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  Dojo Etiquette



The great master Funakoshi said: "Those who follow karate-do, must consider courtesy of prime importance.  Without courtesy the essence of Karate-do is lost".  Conceit has no place in Karate.  The student who really wishes to progress should show proper respect to his Sensei and his seniors.  He should be aware of , and receptive to criticism, and should not pretend to have a knowledge of that which he does not have.  The way of Karate is not easy; it is not meat to be.  The beginner may find the attitude and methods of his teachers difficult to understand; obstacles will be put in his path; he will be tested. His Sensei will not "tell him everything"; much will be up to him to find; but if he perseveres, truly he will in time find the "way".


Japanese students understand "dojo etiquette" but for the western student ignorant of the customs of Okinawa and Japan, here is a guide to conduct in the Karate dojo.

  1. On entering the dojo or upon meeting one's Sensei, bow (rei).  
  2. Never walk on any training or contest area wearing shoes.  
  3. Smoking or swearing in the dojo is strictly forbidden at all times.  
  4. Any person who has been drinking alcohol will not present himself for training.  
  5. Students must keep their bodies clean, nails must be cut short, gi's should be clean and well pressed.  
  6. No jewellery is permitted during training, unless absolutely necessary.  
  7. No talking is permitted during training, unless absolutely necessary.  
  8. Members shall do their utmost to carry out the training as laid down by their instructors.  
  9. Students must make every effort to attend class on time.  
  10. Never lean against wall or sprawl about on the dojo floor.  Always sit upright (crosslegged or seiza).  If you are waiting for your turn to train with a partner, do not sit or stand around, but train in a similar manner to the rest of the class.   
  11. When listening to explanations by Sensei, never stand with arms folded or hands on the hips.  Hands should be held straight down the sides, fists should preferably be clenched.  
  12. On greeting one's Sensei, training partner or other budoka (practitioner of martial arts), always bow and say "oo's".  
  13. When asked to "line out" or called on by the instructor, always run into position.  
  14. (a) As soon as the Sensei enters the training area, students will line out in the appropriate manner immediately, standing in musubi-dachi (hands by the sides).  
  (b) The senior grade present in the body of the class shall, as soon as everyone is in position, call "seiza".  
  (c) The class shall then kneel in unison,  ( first on the left knee, keeping the back straight, then on the right knee) and finally sitting back on the heels with the palms of the hands resting on the upper thighs.  
  (d) On the command "Mokso" the hands shall be cupped, the eyes are closed and the student composes himself for training.  
  (e) On the command "Yamae" the eyes are opened and the hands returned to the thighs.  
  (f) On the command "Rei" the class shall place their hands on the floor palms down, and bow for approximately two seconds. ( They shall not raise their heads before the Sensei as this is a breach of etiquette).  
  15. Any member arriving after training has begun, shall execute a full kneeling bow at the edge of the mat, facing the direction of the Sensei, before joining the rest of the class.  
  16. Any member wishing to leave the mat (for whatever reason), shall not do so until he/she has received the Sensei's permission.  
  17. Any member leaving the dojo before the class has completed training, shall execute a full kneeling bow at the edge of the mat.  
  18. When demonstrating for, or with the Sensei, or upon receiving instructions from him, students will acknowledge with a standing bow and "oo's".  Note that the students always bows to the Sensei first, the Sensei will acknowledge.  
  19. Instructors and seniors shall never be called by their first names during class.  Instructors shall be called "SENSEI" and senior students "SEMPAI".  
  20. When called upon to assist the Sensei, the student should acknowledge with a loud "oo's", and run into position.  He should then bow to the instructor and await further instructions.  
  21. When training with a partner, both shall bow simultaneously before and after each session of training.  
  22. Before entering any training or contest area for a competition, always bow at the perimeter before advancing into the area, taking care to enter from your own side.  Never cut across the contest area (shiai-jo).  Bow first to the referee and then to your opponent.  At the end of the contest, reverse the order.  
  24. The AIM of Karate is to: -  
  (a) Develop self confidence and personal fitness;  
  (b) To harmonise mind and body;  
  (c) To promote friendship amongst the students;  
  (d) To foster the true spirit of peace and humility through the martial art of KARATE.  


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