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Martial Arts in Chapel Hill. Community-Minded, Family-Oriented, Behavior Based.

Karate in Chapel Hill and Durham : Family-Oriented, Behavior-Based, Community-Minded.


Notice in this photograph, kids, adults, parents, and siblings, all of us together on a weekend trip to a tournament in New York.

Martial Arts training, at its core, is the Art of defeating oneself, and defeating in one’s self weakness and vice. Central to that end, is a tireless pursuit of self improvement through training, academic study, and artistic understanding. Karate training is most certainly an art form, but it is one that is misunderstood in the West far more often than not. In America, it is misused in many cases as a money-making enterprise in which kids, and adults alike, are led to believe they’re benefiting from some kind of esoteric Eastern philosophical system that is more often than not, only imitated by their instructors. Martial Arts, in its truest form, is both beautiful (physically) and applicable (in terms of self-defense), and there IS also a philosophical esoteric that tends to elude its Western practitioners. At the heart of that esoteric is self-defense on one hand, and family, community and behavior on the other.

The great Karate masters of Japan would say that mastery of self-defense, mastery of character, and mastery of art are all one and the same. The only way to be truly invincible in the self-defense situation that we hope, in this day in age, we’ll never find ourselves in, is also to be truly selfless, defending life, therefore, for the sake of the others who depend on us, and the work we might do to improve the human community, rather than so we might pursue the selfish concerns of bettering our own positions in life. One need only see one of our classes – or watch our kids participate in competitions! – to see how art and character development are coming together for these youth. 


It’s far from comfortable the first time a karate student supports his/her weight on his/her fists like this. Of course it does no harm, and only makes the students stronger, but the dojo is a place, first and foremost, where kids and adults learn to persevere in the face of hardship. Of course, in the video game and fast food era, this kind of hardship in young people’s lives is sometimes hard to come by. All the more reason for them to practice karate at Ligo Dojo. Learning to persevere improves character in a world in which opportunities to be thus tested are few and far between.

As a result, behavior is stressed above all other things at Ligo Dojo. Both kids and adults learn that the path to physical strength and prowess lies through strong behavior, and students are not promoted unless they can progress in terms of behavior as well. Sensei Ligo holds the bar very high in his classes, because he believes that improving character through karate training can improve the entire human community when karate students spread out in life to influence the community, in both big and small ways, as role models. Many for-profit area martial arts schools have an “anything goes” training environment where students are permitted to take the training as seriously as they want to. At Ligo Dojo there is a strict curriculum both in terms of kicks and punches, but also in terms of character development and leadership. Parents tend to appreciate the work that we do exactly because we are NOT an anything goes karate school.  


One year in Rochester, NY this group of Ligo Dojo kids had a long wait for time for them to compete at a tournament. We were having trouble settling them down so we stretched them all out for a bit of quite time. Note the adults at the far end participating in order to show the kids how to be calm. They had been warming up for their matches, hence the crossed arms and legs. We had them doing this to stay warm. Of course it also served to keep them keeping their hands to themselves. We won lots of trophies that day.