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. KaraTe-Do 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 KaraTe-Do is, consideration for others.
When entering the dojo, take off your hat and shoes, dispose of chewing gum, turn off radios, and stop any other distracting practices that might interfere with training. Visitors are also expected to observe these guidelines for conduct.
At the dojo, change from your street clothes and put on a dogi.
When you greet a fellow student or an instructor, greet them by bowing. This is customary in the practice of Japanese Budo.
When the class is ready to begin, before the teacher sits, all students should line up in 6 straight lines. The person to your right should be of equal or higher rank; the person to your left, equal or lower rank.
The highest-ranking student will command "Seiza" (kneel) Mukso (meditate) - Mukso Yame(end meditation) - Shomen ni (face front) Rei (bow)
everybody bow at the same time. Now Sensei will turn and face the class and the senior will command Sensei Ni (everybody face the sensei) Rei (bow). The next command is Otagai Ni (face your partner) Rei (bow). The last command is Shomen which simply means face the front again. The teacher will stand up and the whole class will follow.
When Sensei comes into the dojo or onto the floor for the first time that class, the person insructing will stop the class and have the students face sensei and bow. This is reishiki! If you think about it, imagine just ignoring the fact that your sensei has arrived to the dojo, or entered the room. (Kids, would you ignore your parent when they come home from work?)
If you arrive for class late (a practice that is not encouraged), it is proper etiquette to wait kneeling, until Sensei invites you to join in. Once you enter, you should kneel at the back of class, close your eyes and meditate for a few moments to calm your mind to prepare for class. Then, do 100 push-ups before joining in the warm-up. This is an excellent way of warming up quickly, and helps you to remind yourself to be on time in the future.
When Sensei is instructing the class, or if you wish to listen to an explanation given to another student in practice, you should kneel politely in seiza. When corrected by Sensei or another senior student, bow and say “Arigato Gosaimashita Sensei” (thank you)
During the class, any student wishing to leave or to practice something other than what the class is practicing must first ask the permission of the instructor.
Always begin and end your training with your partner by bowing to each other.
Never shout, curse, or become angry.
Talking during class is impolite and interferes with the concentration of other students. When discussion is necessary, keep it brief and quiet.
It is very poor etiquette to question a teacher's or senior's authority or technical knowledge, and especially so during a class. If you are confused about something, ask respectfully. Don't insist on your point of view.
After the class is over, you should find your partners and bow to each of them, thanking them for training with you.
Respect your training attire and equipment. Gi's should be clean and mended. Weapons & safety gear should be in good condition and in their proper place when not in use.
Respect those with more experience. Never argue technique with Sensei or Senpai
If you feel it is absolutely necessary to ask a question of Sensei, go to him (never call him/her over), bow respectfully and wait for his/her acknowledgment.
No jewellery of any kind should be worn during practice.
Ensure that your hands and feet are clean before stepping on the dojo floor. Keep fingernails and toenails trimmed for safety.
Treat all others with courtesy, respect and kindness.
Never display a negative attitude toward the other dojo, martial arts or other martial artists.
When the Sensei or instructor enters the dojo all members should line up in attention stance facing the kamiza. Students generally line up with the highest rank on the right to the lowest on the left.
Make sure your karate-gi remains properly tied during practice and that you remain adequately covered. If you need to adjust your uniform, bow to your partner, turn away from the kamiza and adjust your uniform. Bow to your partner when you are ready to recommence practice.
Leaving early? wait until the instructor is not demonstrating, then ask permission to leave the class. Perform a proper bow before stepping out of the dojo. Also Sensei should have been aware of the fact that your were leaving early.
Karate-gi should be washed after each training session and be kept in a good state of repair.
Take pride in your dojo. Assist in cleaning the dojo before and after every practice session.
When going onto the dojo floor let your senior go on before you as you enter the dojo floor
Always line up in grade, according to rank. If someone is in the same grade then line up in the order of date graded and then by age (eldest first).
When kneeling for the opening rei always go onto the left knee first then right. Kyu grades should not kneel before the black belts.
No talking in class unless asked. It is a sign of respect that you listen to the instructor taking the class
When told to sit down in class sit seiza unless told to sit relaxed.
When addressed in class personally (this includes being corrected) acknowledge that you have heard by answering “Hait Sensei”. This is also a way of appreciating the fact that your instructor has taken interest in seeing that you do the techniques properly.
When putting your kumite gear on, do so as quickly and quietly as possible then return to the dojo floor lining up in one straight line in order of grade. You should have on all the correct kumite gear before walking on to the dojo floor.
If you do not have on all the correct kumite gear then you should try to borrow some, failing that you must advise the instructor who has the discretion to excuse you from the session or allocate an alternative form of training.
When told to partner up always turn to your senior first.
In a jiyu kumite situation the senior grade must adjust their level of intensity to suit their partner. Dojo kumite is not about who is the best. Instead it is an opportunity to exchange techniques so that everyone can learn and develop.
Just as etiquette plays an important part of our training, it is equally important outside the dojo. The principles and values of Karate such as love, respect, obedience, patience and courtesy are all completely transferable.
When addressing a Black Belt outside the dojo you should call them Sensei unless otherwise told by that person to refer to them on a first name basis.
When sitting for a meal or having drinks, it is common courtesy to wait until Sensei or your head instructor (who ever is present at the time, has started first).
If you are unable to train for a period of time you should let the instructor know so that he/she is not left wondering if there is a problem.
If you stop training for three months or more, it is a requirement and a sign of courtesy to wear a white belt upon your return. You will still maintain your position in the line up. By wearing your white belt you acknowledge your absence from the dojo and at the same time demonstrate your respect to your fellow karateka who have continued to train during your absence. Sensei will inform you at the appropriate time when to begin wearing your coloured belt again.
Learning and practicing etiquette inside and outside the dojo is as important as the syllabus you learn; therefore it should be reviewed on a regular basis.
Don't say any words when you kiai. "Kiai" itself, being a Japanese word should NOT be a kiai. Common kiai include "Ya!" and "Ei!"
Don't be afraid to kiai! In general, people tend to kiai too softly rather than too loudly. If you have a strong kiai, it will often spur others to work harder, as well. The overall tone of a class is set by the level of spirit of the class, which can be raised with better kiai. On the other hand, if your spirit is poor or your kiai weak, you might bring down the class spirit.
Do not hesitate to ask senior students and instructors for help before or after class. Time permitting, you should try to learn kata outside of class so that during class, the instructor can spend more time making comments about your technique rather than what move comes next.
KaraTe-Do 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 KaraTe-Do 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 and guide you; the rest is up to you, if you do not practice regularly then you will never master the art.
- Develop your mind, your character, and above all be humble.