This section is designed to give you a fairly thorough run through on how to behave in the dojo. Having said that no one should go into a state of panic over trying to remember every last little detail or worry that they will get into trouble if they forget something. This is a guide to help you. The most important thing in the dojo is for us to enjoy ourselves, if we show respect to our fellow Aikidoka & training area then we will build our own etiquette naturally for our dojo.
When entering the dojo, after opening the door and stepping in - bow
When leaving the dojo, before opening the door - face the training area and bow
When entering the dojo, take off your hat and shoes, dispose of chewing gum and stop any other distracting practices that might interrupt training. Visitors are also expected to observe these guidelines for conduct.
In the gathering room - talk in reasonably low voices as not to be heard in the dojo during class
Please remove all jewellery before entering the dojo training area. It is easy to get scratched or cut from jewellery when sparring or practising.
Never sit with the bottom of your feet facing the dojo. Showing the bottom of your feet to a Sensei is considered rude.
Bow upon entering and leaving the dojo training room.
Be sure to bow to Sensei when you first see him and bow when you are ready to leave.
The dojo is a place where we train. It is important to show respect to our Sensei by keeping it clean. If you see something out of place or messy - take a moment and clean it up. Also, in the same respect, if you make a mess, stop and clean it up
Bring your own towel to clean the dojo floor at the end of class
Eating, chewing gum, and using cell phones are not permitted in the dojo.
Never throw or drop your obi (belt) on the ground.
Never wash your obi, your obi is a symbol of your spirit.
Practice your kihon waza and kata consistently outside of class, even if it is just for a few minutes every day. This is the only way to improve your skill and physical conditioning.
Keep in mind that DOJO refers not only to the mat, but to the entire area inside the building. Maintaining quiet and practising courtesy in the dojo pertains to all areas of the dojo.
Keep your toe nails and finger nails cut short at all times.
Always be sure your feet and hands are washed for training.
When training, you work/practice with other students so be aware of your cleanliness, nobody likes to train with someone who is dirty.
Please pay your fees on time, sensei has bills to pay like we do.
Beginning of Class
When the class is ready to begin, before the teacher walks to the front of class, all students should line up in seiza. Measure the distance between each other. The person sitting to your left should be of equal or higher rank; the person to your right, of equal or lower rank.
The sensei will clap twice bring his hands together in front of his face & bow to Shinzen, he will then perform a normal seated bow (bow to the shinzen at the front of class, hands come together in-front of your face & you make a small bow, on returning from the bow do not raise up till the person to you left has done so. Raise your left hand to the top of your thigh first followed by the right) this bow is repeated twice.
Sensei will turn and face the class & bow, everyone will bow at the same time, sensei will say "onegaishimasu" (thank you for what you are going to teach me), the students reply with the same.
Always respect the senior students - they are your sempai.
Stay focused in class, if sensei is demonstrating something, stop what you are doing and watch quietly.
If sensei asks you to do something, bow first and say "hai, sensei", telling sensei you understand and will do it immediately - always move as quickly as possible - do not stroll.
Learn all the Japanese words that you are asked to learn. This helps sensei in teaching class.
It is very poor etiquette to question a teacher's or senior's authority or technical knowledge, and especially so during a class. Remember you are at the class out of your own choice if you don’t have faith in your sensei or sempai’s then you should cease training with them as you are wasting your time.
When you greet a fellow student or an instructor, greet them by bowing.
Be prompt & arrive before class begins. If you arrive late for line-up, but before sensei has come into the dojo, you should take your place in line after the ungraded students so as not to disturb the class.
If you arrive late for class (a practice that is not encouraged), it is proper etiquette to wait kneeling in seiza just outside the mat quietly, until sensei invites you to join in. Once you enter onto the mat, you should warm up at the back of class. Also line up on the end of the line as to not disturb the other students.
When sensei is instructing the class, or if you wish to listen to an explanation given to another student in practice, you should stand quietly. When corrected by sensei or a sempai, bow and say "Hai sensei, or Hai sempai"!
If for any reason you must leave the dojo floor during practice, either temporarily or permanently, always ask sensei’s permission to leave or return.
Always begin your training with your partner by bowing to each other and saying "onegaishimasu" (Thank you for what you are going to teach me). At the end of training say "domo arigato gozaimashita" (Thank you very much for what you have taught me).
Never become angry, curse, raise your voice, swear, lounge or act inattentively during training. Treat your training seriously. Do not waste your time and everyone else's if you are not prepared to treat your training and your fellow Aikidoka with the respect and the seriousness deserved.
Talking interferes with what sensei is explaining and with the concentration of other students. Never Talk whilst sensei is demonstrating or explaining.
If you need to fix your gi/hakama during class bow and turn to the back of class. Fix your gi/hakama quickly and quietly. Turn and bow. Resume the activity.
If sitting at the back of class - never lean against the wall. This shows signs of weakness and sloppiness. Always sit in seiza or sat up straight with your legs crossed.
Do not talk during instruction, if you have a question raise your hand and bow to ask sensei.
Junior students (Kohai) are expected to look to senior students (Sempai) for information and guidance. Try to imitate the behaviour of the sempai.
Treat the sempai with respect and consideration. Watch the sempai when they stand, you stand, when they sit, you sit. The higher rank students are always to your left.
Sempai are expected to set a good example for Kohai. Sempai must protect the Kohai from injury and help them learn. Sempai will treat everyone with same respect and consideration equally.
Pay attention during class. Don't daydream! Concentrate fully on your training while you are in the dojo - for this too is part of your training.
Don't be concerned with what rank you are. It shows a lack of understanding why you are studying martial arts. Anyone can buy and wear a belt. Belts are meaningful only as signs of personal achievement. What is truly important is what you learn and what is inside yourself which has true meaning.
Be aware of the ability of your partner. Everyone can avoid injuries by keeping in mind that we are here to train and learn from each other.
At the start and finish of class, be sure your gi (uniform) is neat and tucked in.
Seiza - sitting on your knees. For Seiza, you step back & kneel with the right leg first then the left. Place your open hands on the top part of your thighs, with your elbows in and your left big toe over your right. When rising, you will step up with the left foot first and then the right to stand.
When returning to the back wall, e.g. during Kihon Kata, walk backwards so as not to turn your back on sensei.
End of Class
We quickly line up according to rank.
The sensei will bow to shinzen (bow to shinzen at the front of the dojo, left hand goes to the mat in-front of your knee first followed by the right hand, making a triangular shape with the thumbs & fore fingers, on returning from the bow do not raise up till the person to you left has done so. Raise your right hand to the top of your thigh first followed by the left).
Sensei will turn and face the class & then bow, everyone will bow at the same time, sensei will say "arigato gozaimashta" or "domo arigato gozaimashta" (thank you for what you have taught me me), the students reply with the same.
At any time whilst in the dojo, make sure that you DO NOT:
* turn your back on Kamiza/O’Sensei
* lie on the mat, unless told to do so
* lean against the walls
* stand with your arms folded or with your hands in the side splits of your Hakama
* sit with your legs stretched out showing the bottom of your foot to sensei
* wear jewellery
* chew gum or sweets
* wear a dirty or torn gi