From the moment I started to even think of opening my own school, I knew I wanted to model it after Grand Master Gorino’s.
Although I’ve trained for over 30 years, I have been training with Grand Master Gorino for over seven years now. And the moment I walked into his school, it felt welcoming. It was bright. It smelled good. The colors were right. The front reception area was not overwhelming. I immediately fell in love with everything about the school and the dojang.
Simply put, Grand Master Gorino’s felt like home. So, when he gave me the honor of inviting me to open our first extension school, I knew that I wanted it to feel like home as well.
For me, that started by replicating what feels like a home.
The training space is an important example. Our colors are traditional: white and dark gray. Tradition is a part of who we are, and it’s a big part of how we want to present ourselves. But we try to combine tradition with what looks and feels like home.
We add things to the dojang that bring elements of warmth. That’s not just the decor, though. We create warmth in other ways.
For instance, we have a front desk in our lobby, yet there is no barrier at all between the door and the class space. This opens the classroom up to the folks in the lobby and the families there to watch.
I am able to speak to both my students and the audience at the same time. That feels like home to me, and I hope it does to them as well. We appreciate the loved ones who support our students, and we consider them part of the family we are building here.
Another way we make our dojang feel like home is having everyone within your reach. And not just physically. That means creating areas for people to speak to each other, areas to train more directly with each other, etc. We want our students to be able to see everybody and be able to talk to everybody at the dojang.
We have a big training space, but we are able to use it in a way that the person training next to you feels like they’re your training partner. It’s somehow very large, yet very intimate at the same time.
The cleanliness and freshness of our space is another way it feels like home. It is our home, and I treat it with the same respect I treat my own home. Right now, I am the only one responsible for keeping the dojang clean. But increasingly, students have been chipping in and helping. Beyond being just an amazing gesture, it tells me that they are starting to feel more and more like this is their home as well.
That was the case when we were first getting the dojang ready as well. So many students from Grand Master Gorino’s dojang in Amherst came over to help us. They painted, they built, they repaired.
They literally put the school together.
So much time and effort was put into every single detail to make our school feel like Grand Master Gorino’s. And it’s all because they know what we have there, they love the school like I do and Grand Master Gorino does, and we’re family. So they wanted the same for my school. It was truly heartwarming.
We spent countless hours, weekends, afternoons, evenings, and pizza parties as a family working to make this new school become.
It was an empty space. A shell.
And now, all of the things around me – from the Korean artwork, to certificates, to pictures of our students, and the drawings from new students who have come in – are all part of the design that makes this place feel like home.
And not just our home, but an extension of our main school in Amherst, which is an extension of Grand Master Gorino himself.
I believe in Grand Master Gorino, and I believe in what he does. A big part of that is not just the Tae Kwon-Do we do, but how we do Tae Kwon-Do within that space.
The dojang is a sacred place. We bow before we go in, not just out of respect, but also to show the happiness and appreciation we have to be there.
We have the same rule that Grand Master Gorino has about shoes. We leave our shoes at the door when we walk in. And that is symbolic of us leaving our problems and all of the trappings of our outside lives behind us, and becoming part of the school for the time we are there.
But it doesn’t work both ways, oddly enough. You can leave your outside life behind when you walk in to the dojang, but I find that it is impossible to leave the dojang without taking at least a little piece of it home with you.
And that is because this place makes you feel special. It makes you feel home.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!