In BUDO (the martial way) the dojo is the place where training takes place, but it is also symbolize the deepness of the relation a practitioner establishes with the martial art;
this last aspect is proper of Chinese and Japanese Buddhist culture, which identify the dojo as the place of isolation and meditation.
Dojos were often small rooms located near temples or castles, near forests ends, such as the secrets of the techniques could be easily preserved.
With the diffusion of martial arts, many dojos started to appear and in many cases they would be considered by masters and practitioners like a second home.
Dojos where embellished with works of calligraphy and artistic objects made by the very students, they fully conveyed the atmosphere of dignity that reigned in the dojo; sometimes on a wall there was a chest, which symbolized that the dojo was dedicated to the higher values and virtues of the dō, not only to physical exercise. In other dojos there were altars called kamiza (seat of the gods), they were not referred to divinities, but the were to the memory of a great deceases master.
A dojo stands for a place of meditation, concentration, learning, friendship and respect, it is the symbol of the “way” of martial art.
In the west the term dojo is wrongly translated as gym and it is only indented as a place for training, while in the oriental culture the dojo is the place where, by following the “way”, one can achieve a perfect unity between zen (mind) and body (tai), this the perfect psychophysical balance, the greatest realization for oneself.
Dojo is the school of the sensei (teacher): he is the head of the school and his are the directives and norms of good proceeding of the school; beside the sensei there are other teachers, his students, and senpais (student of higher rank) which fulfill an important role: their behavior is the example that must guide other students; when a senpai doesn’t care about his behavior he/she becomes harmful for the whole school.
No advanced student takes more from the dojo than what he gives in return: the dojo is not simply a place, but the image of a behavior, dojos of the “way” differentiates from standards sport places: physical exercise can be the same, but it is the searching for the right attitude that allows one to progress.
A student that enters the dojo must live behind all the problems of daily life, purify his/her mind and concentrate on training to overcome his/her limits and insecurities, in a constant challenge with oneself.