If you were to come and train with us at the Broken Bokken Dojo you would find a relatively calm and relaxed atmosphere. Visitors with a background in more 'traditional' Japanese Martial Arts are often surprised if not even slightly offended that we are so loose.
I tell them I teach the Okinawan way, not the Japanese way. I teach in a family way, not a military way. Prior to WWII the teaching of Okinawan 'te' was personalized, taught in small groups and was more loose and relaxed...but not soft or lacking in physical rigor. Afterwards, when Karate become commercialized and taught in large groups a military way was easier to teach and to keep 'kids' in place. Plus, Americans learning Karate at that time were military...and so teaching was militarized. (My opinions)
The Japanese are known for their precision, adherence to time and schedules, everything has its place and there is a certain sense of orderliness. Japan is also famous for its meticulous attention to detail in all that they do. If you visit a formal Japanese Dojo it will be very orderly, neat and clean. Students will be very polite, gi's nice and clean as well as the Dojo. I studied Zen in a very formal Japanese style at the Nebraska Zen Center and Kyokushinkai Karate while in College under a very strict teacher. Promptness, eye for detail and adherence to protocol was highly emphasized. I learned a lot from this type of way and it has its place.
Unlike the Japanese, the Okinawans are laid back, easygoing and much more relaxed. Meetings don't start 'on-time'...in fact, not much starts on time. The Okinawans call themselves a Taygay people. Taygay is a term that means 'relaxed and easygoing'. In Okinawa, activities tend to run on what they call Okinawan Time. Meetings start when everyone shows up and ends when it is done. Adherence to a clock or time is seen as more of guideline than a rule. (A good resource for this information is the book: The Okinawa Program by Wilcox, Wilcox and Suzuki. I highly recommend it.)
Karate...again prior to WWII...was taught behind closed doors and in back yards, typically only to family members or close personal friends. Oh, yeah...no Gi's. They weren't incorporated in Karate until Karate became formalized in Japan and needed to become a more official Japanese Budo.
In the summer you will find us in a park. Some of us wear our Gi's...some don't. Some wear their obi's...some don't. It is a very relaxed atmosphere...yet mindfulness is practiced with attention to detail of technique. It is simply taught without, what I call, a military atmosphere, but with a more relaxed family atmosphere. We are laid back, flexible and have a very easy going practice of our art. We smile and laugh a lot...usually at ourselves.
We have an open door policy and love to have guests visit. Don't worry about showing up on time or having to wear the 'right' type of clothes. Come as you are, be relaxed and just let time be.
Thanks for visiting. My Dharma name is Shinzen. I began studying Goshindo Karate under the watchful eye of Shihan Paul Dean in 1969. Yes, I now have gray hair. I am also Lay-ordained in Soto Zen under the tutelage of Rev. Nonin Chowaney of the Nebraska Zen Center.