Dating in the Dojo: Good or Bad Idea?

Last week, I asked a random group of martial arts instructors and students the following question:

Do you think dating in the dojo is a good or bad idea? Why?

Here are their answers…

Jessica (Black Belt Mama):

I am torn on this one. On one hand, it’s a great way to find someone with common interests. However, a dojo is like a family and if two of the family members are dating and something doesn’t work out, that could spell big trouble for the dojo. I guess if I have to take a side, I’d say that dating in the dojo is a bad idea. However, married dojo members are quite common in my dojo and that seems to work just fine.

Lori (Jiu-Jitsu Sensei):

It can be both a good or bad thing. If the couple in question maintain a “professional” relationship on the mats and the romantic relationship goes well, it can be a great thing. Their training can be a bond that helps strengthen their relationship and vice versa.

It can, however, be a bad thing too. If they can’t keep their relationship issues off the mat it can create awkward social situations at the dojo. Or if the couple has a bad break-up it may lead to one or both people leaving the dojo.

Whatever way you look at it, in my opinion, a Sensei has no right to meddle in the affairs of their students and tell them who they can or can’t date. This leads to one of two things. 1) The couple dates in secret and do whatever they’re going to do in spite of any “policies” you may have. Or 2) One or both people may leave the dojo so that they can pursue the relationship unfettered. The best thing you can do as a Sensei is to encourage the couple to remain professional while on the mats and hope for the best.

John (Dojo Rat):

My old Tae Kwon Do Master, Mr. Choi told us “We should not fish off our own docks”.

Of course, nobody paid attention to this. I’d say at least three of my girlfriends were in that Tae Kwon Do school.

I would say it never affected school policy. Everybody seemed to be dating, and as it was a large school with many satellite branches there were lots of potential partners. Of course, it was the late ’70’s-early ’80’s– sex, drugs and rock and roll…

I never saw anyone abuse the instructor/student relationship.

Jesse (Karate by Jesse):

Thinking about what should and should not be going on in the dojo instinctively brings me back to Okinawa, from where I have quite a few memories of “broken” social codes (of which there are surprisingly many!) in the dojo.

To sum it up – No, I don’t think dating in the dojo is a good idea. The dojo is a zone where you need to be able to shut off the ‘outer world’ (with its distractions and obligations) and focus completely on yourself and your own progress on ‘the path’… Without having to worry about romancing the opposite sex at the same time! This must be respected by everyone.

However, what happens before and after the “SHÔMEN NI REI!” is another thing… <3

What do you think? Is dating other members of your dojo a good idea?

13 comments on “Dating in the Dojo: Good or Bad Idea?”

  1. Why would anyone date in a dojo? It smells bad and is really just too noisy.

    Should dojo members date each other, they should have their dates elsewhere. Then, when they are in the dojo, they practice.

    Not much too it really. Making artificial social rules for adults is a losing proposition, so making dating verboten is just going to cause undue tension. If people aren’t mature enough to handle their interpersonal relationships in a positive way, you probably don’t want them hanging around anyway.

  2. The question is not just about what other people ought to be allowed to do, but what you would (or would not) do yourself.

    Consider a hypothetical worst-case scenario. You search the city for the best dojo, and eventually find and join it. You meet a girl there, who shares your interests and your standards–but by the time you fully appreciate how wonderful she is, you have already been classified as her “friend.” Trying against the odds to change the nature of the relationship, you lose access to both the girl and the school…leaving you little choice but to leave town and start a new life elsewhere! 🙂

  3. In response to the comment, “Why would anyone date in a dojo? It smells bad and is really just too noisy.” let me say if your dojo smells bad your sensei needs to work a little harder at being mindful.
    In our dojo we strongly discourage instructors and staff members to get romantically involved with students. The student looks up to the staff, and particularly the instructional staff. That is a relationship that can be abused and must be honored.
    As far as students dating in the dojo, we have had a number of couples that have found their eventual spouse through their training. It makes sense, similar values, healthy shared interest, a regular activity that they both enjoy.
    The “dates” in the dojo are strictly martial art training and the “outside” the dojo dates are what would be consdiered more mainstream dates.

  4. Personally, I don’t think I’d like to date someone from my dojo. When I’m training, I’m surrounded by handsome gents. I don’t want to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings because it looks like I’m paying too much attention to someone.

    I’m a no vote on this issue, but I’m only speaking for myself.

    All’s well when things are rosy, but god help you on the days when storm clouds are brewing. I like my dojo space clear – without someone’s else’s upsets creeping in.

  5. I’m a YES. My husband Rob coaches me. We share an interest, get to spend loads of time together, he’s a super sexy, Sicilian guy, with a great physique, and we have freaking amazing sex. 😀
    Anyways, I think dating in the dojo is cool… but only when no one else is about. 😉

  6. Whao this is such a cool blog! Martial Arts + Personal Development, such a cool idea! They go hand in hand in my opinion.

    Dating in the dojo is no problem, as long as you can keep your personal relationship outside the dojo.

    Think of when you bow in to enter the dojo, it means that you are entering your training area. The idea is that you bow and set aside any other thoughts and focus on your martial arts training.

    I’ve seen couples where you can’t even tell they’re dating by looking at their training. On the other hand, there are couples where you can tell by a mile that they are together.

    A common martial arts interest is a good thing in relationships as long as they don’t let their relationship troubles and worries spill onto their training.

  7. 2 girls that I’ve dated in the past have been through my Aikido Dojo. I’ll admit that as a guy I’ve slipped in some flirtatious remarks to girls who I found attractive – and receptive.

    Which goes to my next point: it really, REALLY depends on the two parties involved. The maturity of the people, and the separation of the “dojo life” and the “dating life”. The way I look it is that one must put boundaries for themselves before even doing anything big (like dating) within the dojo. I knew from the beginning that my Aikido dojo was a place for myself improvement and where I’d go to get rid of the drama that happening outside of it.

    Ergo, I keep the dating stuff outside of the dojo. Even when my date was in the same class, I’d keep it “professional”. So if I were to give out any advice it’d be to know your own personal boundaries and establish them. There’s nothing worst than having someone (or both parties) not knowing what the boundaries are.

  8. I met my wife to be in the dojo and I know lots of other people who has done the same. My sensei is living together with one of the other high ranked sempais in my club and it certainly seems to work just fine.

    In my opinion though that you keep the flirting and most other types of signs of affection until after the class. It is hard enough to train well when talking let alone when you’re letting you libido do the talking 🙂
    What happens after class is a persons own business. As a trainer I get to tell people how they should train because I frankly knows that better than they do 🙂 but being a trainer doesn’t automagicly make me an expert as to how they should live the rest of their lives.

  9. dating in dojo is just like a crime in martial rule. here we come to learn martial art. if we pay attention to another matter then what is the nedd to waste money and time by comiog to dojo. so if u are a karateka then be like a karateka. in my dojo there is no any girl student And i will obey to martial rules always that have teach me the to live the life. i live in (himachal pradesh)india. i am ba 3rd student. i want to become ias.

  10. I’ll tell you my story, so you understand why my answer is no. I, a 28 y.o. black belt, dated a student (purple belt, 26) for six months. We had a fairly nice relationship, and we barely talked at class much less flirt. Well…it turns out he was two-timing me…with another black belt in the class, who was 20. And to make it worse, it’s kind of my rival (someone I had trouble respecting anyway for reasons beside class). So they just decided one day to stop hiding and began openly flirting and making out DURING class. It’s such inappropriate conduct for people that old and that high ranking to do, but it’s not my dojo, so I can’t tell them to take a hike.

    I used to respect this guy. Now I am irked by everything he says and does. What I used to think was him being nice to our younger female students (14-16 y.o.), I now see as rather lecherous flirtation, and these girls simply enjoy the attention, not realizing why he’s giving it to them. It makes it very hard to come to class now. This used to be my favorite thing, and he took it away. But let me tell you- HE will leave before I do. I was here first! And…I can’t wait to see the two start bickering.

  11. I was romantically involved with the head instructor of my dojo. I was half his age (I’m an adult so it was legal). I did get involved with him willingly and happily. I had a crush on him and he knew it.

    If you are an instructor who is considering getting involved with your student, I implore you to reconsider. It really messed with my head and my emotions. My relationship with him now is complicated and painful. On one hand, I still admire him as a martial artist and teacher. On the other hand, I am disgusted about our history. I feel taken advantage of and used.

    I realize now that I was only romantically interested in him because he was my teacher. While your student might seem very attracted to you, remember that they probably wouldn’t be if you weren’t their instructor.

    If you are a student crushing on your instructor and they are receptive, try to think things through. Why would they want to get involved with someone they have so much power over? Could it be because they like having that power over you? If they weren’t your teacher, would you still find them attractive?

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