RJJ LogoJack Sensei always talked about ‘Dojo-itus’. It is not something that only our school suffers from. You may have heard the phrases “Phoning it in”, “Head in the clouds”, “Not even trying”, and a whole host of others. It is a combination of “going through the motions” and not really trying. It can be brought on by boredom, worrying about things outside of class, or just plain carelessness.

We are lucky in that our art stresses partner practice. This means both partners should be getting a good practice in. Uke should be practicing things like their balance, strikes, distance, and falls. Tori should be practicing balance, distance, blocks, and awareness.

It is said we react under pressure in the way we train. If we practice poor strikes, poor balance, poor awareness, we will react poorly when we need it most. When training both partners need to practice good techniques. Jack Sensei used to state that attacks have to have 3 parts, Intent, Capability, and Opportunity. While these are important ingredients when training, we are going to examine what I feel is the most important part of training.


When we are training, we already have the Opportunity for attacking our partner. It is given that our partner has the Capability to complete the attack. The missing ingredient is Intent. Unfortunately, that is ingredient that is missing most often.

I am sure by now you have heard the sensei’s say things like “You attack like a wet noodle”, or “Give me my money’s worth”. If you give your Tori weak strikes or strike off target, your Tori can’t get a good practice in. You hurt both of your training. You practice poor technique and your partner practices against poor techniques giving them a false sense of security.

I want you to understand I am not saying you have to go full speed or full power. Instead, I am talking about striking from a well balanced stance. Not over extending yourself. Striking on target and following through the target (not just hitting the surface). Making sure your strike is good, your arm is stiff (not locked but rather rigid), your wrist is rigid, and your fist is tight.

As the Tori, you need to practice things as well. Things like maintaining your balance through the defense. Making sure your blocks are good, driving the attacker’s arm off target. You have to practice your distance, knowing how close they have to be before their attack can hurt you. This all comes with good practice.

Speed vs Timing

The natural tendency when we slow the attacks down, is that we use speed to beat the attack. This is another bad habit to get into. When you start to increase the speed of that attack, you will get to a point where it becomes harder to be faster than their attack. You need to practice on timing.

I saw an old video once and the instructor was talking about timing being like a video tape. If you speed the video up the defense matches the attack. If you slow the speed of the video down to frame by frame, the defense will still match the attack. By matching the timing of the attack you will begin to understand at what point you need to react to match the attack. You will also begin to recognize clues of the impending attack.

As your timing improves, you will discover you don’t need to be as fast. You will learn that with better timing you will be able to wait longer before having to react. Finally, you will learn to blend with your attacker, redirecting their attack before it fully matures.


You have to be in the now and put your worries aside at the door. You have to have good practice habits, as it is easier to learn good habits, than unlearn bad ones. You have to practice being a good training partner. You need to learn balance, timing, and distancing. These three things are the keys to every technique you will ever learn.

I recommend practicing balance at home. Work on moving from stance to stance with out losing your balance. Work on doing strikes from a well balanced stance. If you have a mirror, ensure you are not learning forward or back when striking as that can be used to pull or push you off balance.

When I say leaning forward or backward, I am talking about your shoulders. Your shoulders should not be in front of your forward foot nor behind your rear foot. If you think about all our stances, your torso is either over the front leg, the rear leg, or centered between them.

Remember to always practice good habits. Attack with intent. Defend like your life depends on it. Never forget to have fun!

2 thoughts on “Dojo-itus

  1. Sensei says:

    Testing a comment

    1. Clay says:

      2nd comment to see what it looks like.

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About the Author

My name is Clayton Søby and I am a Nidan from Rushmore Jukite Ju-Jitsu. I started studying Jukite Ju-Jitsu in August 2001. I still train when I can. In the meantime, I keep busy writing a monthly column for the website and studying Aikido here in Maryland. I hope to see you in class whenever I can make it back to visit.