The Dojo

Zen Budo's Home Dojo is at the Elwood Smith Community Center, sponsored by City of Rockville Recreation. Too small to be a basketball court or for other indoor sports, it is perfect for Martial Arts. Mr. Bowers has handcrafted the look, feel, and texture of the place to be that of an ancient training hall in Okinawa or Japan. Chris has had Jamie Noguchi, a renowned artist, do his logo and banner. Chris is also an amateur woodworker and created the bamboo/staff wall display, the attendance board, the rock bridge, and the traditional martial arts gate you walk through to get to the Dojo. Working by hand with chisel and hammer in the traditional manner (tongue and groove, wedge and dowel construction), he has made the space into something truly special. 


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The Space

  The Dojo is a sensory experience attempting to get you in the proper mindset for training. After changing into your uniform, taking off your shoes and socks, and tying your martial arts belt, you approach the entrance. Barefoot,  you walk over a traditional martial arts bridge, feeling the real stones on your feet. You pass under a wooden gate, symbolizing your passage into the area of training. You smell sandalwood and juniper incense in the air, and walk over to the attendance board where you ring a meditation chime. You pick up your wooden hand carved name tag and place it on the attendance board. You sit on the color matched falling mats and look at the logo, made by a professional artist. You close your eyes and the instructor uses a voice command to cause the sound of rain to surround you. This is to foster your opening concentration and meditation. After two minutes you stand up, ready to begin.    

The Use

 The whole idea of The Dojo is to foster sensory input that improves martial arts performance. Similar to a children's science museum, The Dojo is set up to create not just a training experience, but a physical sight, smell, sound and touch experience which creates total immersion for the student, honors the tradition of the past, and looks forward to the future.   

The Dojo features full length mirrors on the back wall for Kata training and technique refinement, as well as seamless transitions from striking to grappling to weapons training. Voice activated surround sound plays music, times sparring sessions, and creates helpful ambient noise, or plays verbal workout instructions which frees up the instructor to give individual attention.

Exterior and Location

The Zen Budo Dojo is located inside the Elwood Smith Community Center. It is located in a park alongside a park trail. In fact, long ago it was nothing more than a rest stop along the walking trail, the community center was added later. Directly off of Rockville Pike in the heart of downtown Rockville, the center is 1 block from Richard Montgomery High School. Unlike most other dojos, we are surrounded by nature, the typical setting of training. Elwood Smith is just a 15 minute walk from Rockville Metro. The Center features a 30 car lot on a quiet side street which is safe and accessible for children. Because we are in a natural setting, we are one of the few martial arts studios that can engage in outdoor training (for things like staff and Tai Chi) training.