Mar 11, 2010


dojo kanji

(from Wikipedia)

A dojo is a Japanese term which literally means "place of the way". Initially, dojos were adjunct to temples. The term can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of any Japanese martial arts style to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters.

The concept of a dojo as a martial arts training place is a Western concept; in Japan, any physical training facility, including professional wrestling schools, may be called dojo because of its close martial arts roots.


In the "training grounds" section I will post pictures of any building or location that evokes a feeling of martial arts training. I realize some photos I post won't be of actual dojos but anything that gives me the feeling of ancient training will be game.

Mar 9, 2010

Karate Kid pilgrimage - 2009

(originally posted on the Rule 31-2 blog, July 22nd 2009)

So this weekend is it, the long awaited Karate Kid pilgrimage!

It all began on a cold day this past winter while I "ran the channels" and came across the Karate Kid on AMC, I hadn't seen the movie in a while so I sat down and watched it. It was like I was 14 again and watching it in the theater, Daniel was so cool and Alli was hotness to the max (even with that stubborn baby fat.)

I took it to the next level while at work and googled Karate Kid fan sites. I found one that had the locations used during filming all mapped out. Most were right there in the Los Angeles area so I told Aimee a summer trip was in store to visit these holy sites. She looked at me like I was nuts but that's nothing new.

Everything went one step further when Aimee's mom mentioned she wanted to go to LA to do some shopping in Japantown. We decided to put together a road trip for sometime in the summer and here we are, only days away from high adventure.

We leave Saturday morning and plan to get to LA Saturday night. Sunday morning we will hit Daniel's apartment and the adjacent field where Mr. Miagi opened up a can of whoop-ass on the Cobra Kai. Then a trip to the Cobra Kai dojo (which is actually Jun Chong's Tae Kwon Do studio) and then if we feel we can handle it, a trip up the coast to Leo Carillo State Beach where Daniel and Alli first met and the Cobra Kai first displayed their awesomeness.

All day Monday will be power shopping in Japantown and Chinatown, then Tuesday we head back.

Watch this space for a full report upon our return.


(originally posted on the Rule 31-2 blog, August 8th, 2009)

When I first toyed with the idea of a Karate Kid pilgrimage nothing stimulated my senses like the thought of entering the Cobra Kai dojo. How could it not?, the scenes that took place at the dojo were epic. "Fear does not exist in this dojo, pain does not exist in this dojo! Strike first, stike hard, no mercy sir!" Those are words I live by, that is my creed.

(Jun Chong's Tae Kwon Do dojo. Photo taken sometime mid-2000's. Notice the mirrors, the archway, and the punching bags from the Cobra Kai days are still there.)

I wasn't even sure the dojo actually existed but once I found out that it did and that it was still a martial arts dojo (or so said the latest information available)fantasies filled my mind. I thought of how cool it would be to take some time off of work, not just a couple of days but a couple of months, and move to California. I would rent a small apartment in Receda, maybe even at the South Seas apatments, and take classes at the dojo. Everyone would think I was there just to learn Tae Kwon Do, but I would keep my secret safe in my mind and close to my heart. I would be there to train on ground as holy as the Shaolin Temple, I would be an actual Cobra Kai in training. Well, that was my fantasy at least.

When we set off on our adventure Sunday morning the air was thick with excitement. I had gone over Google maps, Mapquest, etc. for days and I had the directions written down in detail. Traffic wasn't too bad and we actually arrived in North Hollywood quicker than I had expected and soon we found the street we were looking for, Lankershim Ave. I told the gals that the dojo would be somewhere on the right, somewhere on the block we had turned onto. But as we got to the next road and I knew we had gone too far I was perplexed, nothing even looked close to the dojo. (I also had an old photo of the Jun Chong dojo from the outside that I had pretty much memorized.) I told them we would have to drive around the block and come back for another pass, this time I would look for a parking place and we could search for it by foot. We came back around and found a spot on the street quickly, and with one quarter in the parking meter we had 15 minutes to be tourists. We walked down just about a half a block and then there is was, different than I had imagined but there it was.

It was now painted all white and Jun Chong Tae Kwon Do was no longer on the door. Now there was a sign that said "Body Theory Fitness" and hip hop music blasted through the walls out onto the street. "What is this?" I thought. "What's going on?"

It turns out the place was now a fitness center and there were about 30 people inside doing aerobics or something to that effect. What was worse though was that the place was gutted, no longer were there punching bags and floormats, no longer was there a mystique of the Orient. All there was was fat sweaty people moving to the beats of Sean Paul.

Have you ever yearned? I mean really yearned, not just craved or coveted, but yearned deeply in your soul? Well, Aimee captured my yearning perfectly in this photo. Like a hungry child looking in the window of the corner bakery and smelling the freshly baked bread that he knows he cannot consume, this is how felt as I peered through the front doors of what once was the Cobra Kai dojo.

The dojo was gone, gone forever. Why are there such injustices in this world? That location should be restored to it's former glory and made available to those that seek martial art enlightenment. That place needs to exist, exist for the warriors within.

After we left the former site of the Cobra Kai dojo we headed to Receda to find the South Seas apartments, my heart was heavy and I didn't drive quite as fast to Receda as I had to North Hollywood. How could they have done that to the dojo? Would the apartments still be apartments? With my luck the apartments would be some run down drug and sex trade depot? My soul needed uplifting and thankfully I did get it.

Entrance to the South Seas Apartments.

This is the sidewalk where Daniel struggles with his suitcase and bike when he first arrives in Receda. The entrance and gate as you can see has been updated to "lock-down" status and is no longer the same wooden gate Daniel almost breaks with his massive karate kick.

The pool and patio area.

You can even see fairly well Apartment 20 at the top of the stairs, whomever lives there is pretty darn lucky.

The alley on the side of the apartments.

Here is where Daniel throws his bike in the dumpster in disgust after the Cobra Kai run him off the road on their motorcyles. After being confronted by his mother who saw him throw the bike away he pleads to return to New Jersey. A classic Hollywood moment, and to think I walked that same alley. (Notice a dumpster still occupies the same ground.)

Mr. Miyagi's workshop door, again we are on lock-down status but you get the idea.

Mr. Miyagi's workshop was just temporarily made for the movie, in real life it's a parking space. Lucky people who get to park their car there, I wonder if they know their car is parked on hallowed ground.

The field, fence and battle ground.

As you can see the open field next to the apartments still exists. I'm surprised over the past 25 years no one has built homes or a strip mall there. In the movie there was a gate Mr. Miyagi opened however now it is just a fence, nonetheless it was pleasing to my soul.

Now that we are back and I sit and reminisce I am very happy we went, all-in-all it was a wonderful trip. To be that close to the events of the Karate Kid was a dream come true.

The only thing that would make it any better would be another pilgrimage. I'm sure there will be one, hopefully sooner than later.