Training at Home

By: Sensei Joe Roses – 7th Dan – IOGKF Australia (AOGKF)

Australia (AOGKF) Head instructor, Sensei Joe Roses analyses training outside of classes and provides advice on how to get started in setting up a routine and a training area outside of the dojo in this very informative and interesting feature article...


Dojo training is one thing, training at home is another. All of us have been guilty of striking a Kata pose in our living room or sliding with Suri Ashi across our kitchen floors during everyday life. However, not many of us have ever trained long enough in our homes to break a sweat, but why? The Dojo Kun says we should practice daily, but do you? Most average, modern Dojo’s only open their doors two to three times per week and classes may only go for two hours. With 168 hours in a week, this does not seem like enough to improve rapidly, or is it?

In our Australian Honbu Dojo (AOGKF), we have adopted the policy: don’t come to training to get fit, come to training fit! Now to be clear, training in Goju-ryu will rapidly improve fitness, strength and flexibility, along with a range of other positive attributes. The aim of this article and our training policy is for students to understand that if you are fit you can be good at training, but if you are fitter you can be great! This means taking some time between sessions to keep your level up.

There are a number of ways to train outside the dojo, but first it is important to analyse what you are trying to achieve. All around the globe I see a lack of Hojo Undo training in many Dojo’s. This is all due to fair reasons too; many Dojo’s train in hired halls without storage facilities or transporting the equipment to the hall is difficult. Even then, Hojo Undo can be quite repetitive and if training becomes dull we can lose students to more ‘entertaining’ styles. Therefore, Hojo Undo training tends to become a practice that is something of a personal preference, if practiced at all.

To master a martial art such as Goju-ryu, we need to be proficient in all of its practices, including its strength and fitness training. Kata should also not be neglected.

Joe Roses


The question then is how do I fit all this into my home and outside of the Dojo life? There are two ways:

Allocated time: You set a time frame (Eg: Wednesday between 6pm-7pm) and you train in the aspects you feel you need to focus on.

Everyday opportunities/I’ve found some time: If you find a few minutes to yourself, you have the things you will need on hand to do a short practice. This may be grabbing your chishi while your breakfast cooks or practicing Sanchin while you wait for the kids to get home from school.

 These two systems both work well for those who can allocate time and for those where time to train outside of the Dojo becomes rare or is difficult.


I often hear people say, I wish I had the space for a Dojo at home! Or that they don’t have room enough to train. Chojun Miyagi Sensei said in one of his speeches to promote Karate that Karate-do practice does not require a lot of space – he is correct. It is how you use you space that is the part that takes a bit of thinking. Again there are two main ways.

Allocating a designated space

In most homes, the garage is the most obvious and clever place that, with the removal of cars, is quick space to be able to train in and is easy to decorate as a dojo and still be able to be used as practical housing for your car. The next area that may be available to you may be your backyard or garden if it is level.

If you live in a small place or an apartment without such luxuries, don’t despair, there is always a park, field, or quiet place nearby that you can call your secret Dojo, you just need to get outside and discover it.

Having a designated space gives you the opportunity to have a place to keep your Hojo undo equipment (like Chishi, Nigiri Game and Sashi), which due to their clever design take up very little space anyway.

Joe Roses 2

Sensei Roses making the most of an everyday opportunity in his garage Dojo.

Setting up a ‘Hidden Dojo’

By Hidden Dojo we mean that you have everything you will need discretely spread across your home ready to go, should you decide to seize an everyday opportunity as mentioned before.

Disguise your Goju-ryu tools with simple ideas likes having a chishi as a hat rack. Finding some beautiful jars for decoration in your living room which you can use as Nigiri Game. Using your Sashi a door stop. Having a kick pad a cushion for small chidren to sit on. Or setting a Makiwara up in your garden as if it is a piece of art amongst trees. These are all sneaky, but effective ways that visitors won’t even think twice about.

See a video of training at Sensei Roses’ home Dojo & others across Australia


An important thing to remember about your training at home is not to let it stop you from getting to your classes. You are your own Sensei when you train alone and outside of the Dojo. Push yourself, but look after yourself. I suggest focusing on numerous aspects inone session. Combine cardio and strenght training with your Kata. I find if you bring everything back to Kata your body becomes strong, you move well, you feel good and then you arrive to training in the best possible shape to get the most benefit out of your class and from your Sensei.