Dojo Etiquette Print E-mail

Tradition, Respect and Discipline

One of the most important aspects of the study of Budo is learning to discipline one's own behaviour and self-control. A prime example of this discipline is the etiquette we observe with our instructor and fellow students, and in the dojo or practice area. Unfortunately, the etiquette we observe is often confused with worship. Aikido is not a religious practice. When we bow or observe special ceremonies, we do so for the purpose of training our minds, not worship or submission.

Etiquette is also confused in our minds with respect. The etiquette we practice may reflect respect, we can show respect, and we do so by following the correct procedures of dojo etiquette. It is not so important that others respond to our respect, to be respectful is the important part. To be impolite is to be lacking in consideration for others, to be inconsiderate is to be lacking, somehow, in some essential kindness. Correct etiquette in Aikido is, consideration for others.

When entering or leaving a dojo we face the front of the practice area and bow. We use this bow as an opportunity to remind ourselves to be grateful for this place to train.

We take off our shoes and stop any distracting practices that might interfere with our training or others' training. Grateful for the opportunity to study Aikido, we want to focus all our attention and energy on that one task. Visitors are also expected to observe these guidelines.

At the dojo, we take off our street clothes and put on a training uniform (Dogi). This helps us to shed our outside concerns and focus our attention on our current task - AIKIDO TRAINING. Complete uniforms are preferred. Our study is a formal one, and the completeness of our dress reflects the attention we give our study.

When we greet a fellow student or an Instructor, we greet them with a traditional bow. This is customary in the practice of Japanese Budo. Bowing is also a sign of humility and reminds us that we are unendingly involved in a relationship with people around us.

When coming into or leaving the practice mat, we bow again to the front of the Dojo. This expresses our intent to concentrate fully on our Aikido training, and acts as recognition of all the individuals, past and present, who have contributed to Aikido.

Aikido is a form of self-defence that has been developed over many hundreds of years, many techniques can be LETHAL, with this in mind you must never make light of practice, never abuse your teaching, only ever use your knowledge of Aikido in self-defence and even then use only the minimum amount of force that is required to defend yourself.

Remember your teacher will show you the way to guide you, the rest is up to you, if you do not practice regularly then you will never master Aikido. Develop your mind, your character, and above all be humble.

General Rules and Other Points On Etiquette

You should ALWAYS arrive at the Dojo at least 15 minutes before training begins, remember it is your responsibility to warm up your body by light exercise before practice begins, if you don't then you run the risk of injury.

ALWAYS bow on entering or leaving a Dojo or Training Area.

ALWAYS assist with the putting out and putting away of Tatami (training mats.

All jewellery and watches MUST be removed or covered before practice. Make sure all finger and toe nails are trimmed short so as not to cause undue injury to others.

Complete Training Uniforms (Gi's) are preferred. Always keep your Gi clean and laundered.

If you arrive late and training has already begun, ALWAYS WAIT at the side of the mat until your Instructor invites you to step onto the mat.

DO NOT carry yourself in a slouchy manner, when required move quickly and safely to your required position in the Dojo.

When sitting ALWAYS sit in the traditional Seiza position unless told by your Instructor to do otherwise.

When the class is ready to begin or finish, the students line up sitting in Seiza, in a STRAIGHT line, before the Instructor sits. The person to your right should be of equal or higher rank.

To BEGIN the class, the highest ranking student will command 'Shomen Rei'. This means 'Bow to the front' and is a sign of respect to the founder and the traditions of Aikido. The senior student will then command 'Sensei Rei', which means 'Bow to the Instructor', as you bow, everyone says 'Onegai Shimasu', meaning 'Let us begin, we are ready for practice'.

When a technique is being taught, the students kneel quickly. When corrected by the instructor, they bow and say either "Osu", or "Thank you".

When speaking or being spoken to by your Instructor you should ALWAYS address he or she by the term 'SENSEI'. This means Instructor / Teacher and is a mark of respect.

During class, any student wishing to leave the mat or practice something other than the technique shown, MUST first ask permission of the Instructor.

When the Instructor is off the mat, treat the senior student with the same respect you do the Instructor.

NEVER shout, curse or become angry on the mat. If there is a disagreement, ask the Instructor what is right.

If your Gi becomes disarranged during practice, you must bow to your partner then walk to the edge of the mat and straighten your Gi before resuming practice.

Always begin and end your training with your partner by bowing to each other.

When the class is ending, the students QUICKLY line up in a STRAIGHT line and kneel, before the Instructor sits.

To finish the class, the highest ranking student will command 'Shomen Rei' followed by 'Sensei Rei', as you bow, everyone says 'Honjitsu No Keiko Domo Arigato Gozaimashita', meaning 'Thankyou very much for the tuition we have just received'. Students should remain kneeling until the Instructor has left the mat.

Students MUST remain kneeling until all of the Instructors have left the mat.

On NO account should you practice Aikido whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. If you are found doing so, your membership to the club will be revoked.

If your return to training after a period of absence of three months or more. You MUST wear a white belt until your Instructor feels that you have trained sufficiently, whereby you can continue training at the level at which you left.

Students should wait for the class to be dismissed, then find their partner and bow to him or her, thanking their partner for training with them.

Other important aspects of etiquette deal with more commonplace concerns. Please remember to pay your dues on time. In our enjoyment of Aikido training, we may forget about our responsibilities to Aikido, and to our Instructors. When training as a visitor in another dojo, please check the visiting policies, and remember that your behaviour reflects on your home dojo.

In short, our practice of correct etiquette may be thought of as courtesy or kindness, and an extension of our Aikido training not to be overlooked.



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