For complete transparency and clarity, this post features books we’ve personally read and continue to re-read, but we do receive a small commission from any sales to help keep free content available at the Dojo. If you do decide to pick up one or two of the following, we send grateful fist-bumps in advance for your support.
We’re often asked why we’re called The Actor’s Dojo. The “actor” element being pretty self-explanatory as we solely exist to pioneer actor empowerment, but the “dojo” part sometimes raises an eyebrow.
It’s a great question, and we’re pleased we raise eyebrows. We aren’t here to be ordinary.
“Dojo” is a Japanese word that when technically broken down means:
dō = “way, pursuit" + jō = “a place”
so at its core, refers to a place where a specific pursuit is practiced.
That’s all very well and good, and was certainly why we chose the word in the first place, but we reckon there’s an even better definition - one that really sealed the deal for us, and perhaps will for you as a potential Dojo actor too.
The following is a passage from Joe Hyams’ book, Zen in the Martial Arts. Give us a “hell yeah” if you feel it as much as we do.
“A dojo is a miniature cosmos where we make contact with ourselves - our fears, anxieties, reactions, and habits. It is an arena of confined conflict where we confront an opponent who is not an opponent but rather a partner engaged in helping us understand ourselves more fully. It is a place where we can learn a great deal in a short time about who we are and how we react in the world. The conflicts that take place inside the dojo help us handle conflicts that take place outside … The activity in the dojo calls on us to constantly attempt new things, so it is also a source of learning - in Zen terminology, a source of self-enlightenment.”
- Joe Hyams, Zen in the Martial Arts, pg.12 (1979)
This truly defines what we are all about.
We’re actors, but we're also so much more than that. Acting is simply the craft we have chosen - either for now or forever - through which we will realise our fullest potential in our time here on Earth.
It’s a craft that frequently reveals our “fears, anxieties, reactions, and habits”, and demands we “constantly attempt new things”. And as Joe Hyams says, in Zen terminology, this endeavour then qualifies as a potential source of “self-enlightenment”.
The Actor’s Dojo isn’t for everyone. We routinely remind our actors that training the Dojo way requires an intention, courage, discipline and humility that may not be called for elsewhere. It necessitates an approach that acknowledges the interconnected bigger picture, instead of the very limited - but far more typical - “actor bubble”.
As a result, Dojo actors aren’t primarily driven by money, fame, status etc… They know that they’ll naturally attract and accrue these ephemeral fancies as a by-product of their integrity and commitment, and while often nice, aren’t the point. Instead, they use this craft to “make contact” with themselves, to “understand” themselves, and ultimately, fulfil their unique purpose to the greatest capacity.
Dojo actors also discover that by practising this intention, courage, discipline and humility in their craft, they will inevitably see the same results and success overflow into their wider lives as well. It becomes a delightful and virtuous cycle, and does so with surprising ease.
The Dojo doors are always open. We’re always ready to welcome you whenever you’re ready to take your craft - and yourself - to the next level.