Aikido – and other martial arts as well – is not all about learning techniques. It requires discipline and respect to yourself and others. Following a dojo etiquette in the dojo is not only nice to for others but for your own benefit too. Many people do confuse religion with martial arts dojo etiquette, However bowing when entering the dojo has got nothing to do with worshipping but only to show respect. The Etiquette in a dojo might seem a little serious but please bear in mind that in a Dojo you practice a Martial Art. Following the Dojo Etiquette, you will not only show respect to your instructor but to others and yourself as well, by making their and your practice as focused and safe as possible.
Proper Dojo Etiquette:
- Upon entering and leaving the dojo, make a standing bow.
- When stepping onto or off of the mat, always bow in the direction of the shomen and the picture of the founder.
- Respect your training tools. Gi should be clean and mended. Weapons should be in good condition and in their proper place when not in use.
- Never use someone else’s practice gi or weapons without permission.
- A few minutes before practice is to begin, you should be warmed up, seated formally in seiza, and in quiet meditation. These few minutes are to rid your mind of the day’s problems and to prepare for study.
- The class is opened and closed with a formal ceremony. It is important to be on time and to participate in this ceremony. If you are unavoidably late, you should wait, formally seated beside the mat, until the instructor signals permission for you to join the class. Perform a formal seated bow as you get on the mat. It is most important that you do not disrupt the class in doing so.
- The proper way to sit on the mat is in seiza. If you have a knee injury, you may sit cross-legged, but never sit with legs outstretched and never lean against the walls or anything else. You must be alert at all times.
Do not leave the mat during practice except in the case of injury or illness. If you must leave the mat for personal reasons, request permission before doing so. Although it is important to push your body to discover your limits, it is permissible to rest if necessary. Do so by moving to the edge of the mat and sitting seiza until able to rejoin the class.
- During class, when the instructor demonstrates a technique for practice, you should sit quietly and attentively in seiza. After the demonstration, bow to the instructor and then to a partner and begin practising the technique.
- During class, practising of techniques is normally done in pairs, with sempai taking four turns as nage and then four as uke. If there is an odd number of students in the class, a group of three may be formed, with practice proceeding by twos instead of by fours.
When the end of a technique is signalled, stop immediately. Bow to your partner and quickly line up with the other students.
- Never stand around idly on the mat. You should be practising or, if necessary, seated formally, awaiting your turn.
If for some reason it is absolutely necessary to ask a question of the instructor, go to him or her (never call out), bow respectfully, and wait for an acknowledgement. A standing bow is acceptable.
- When receiving personal instruction during class, sit in seiza and watch intently. Bow formally to the instructor when the personal instruction is finished. When the instructor is instructing another, you may stop your practice to watch. Sit formally and bow when he or she has finished.
- Respect those who are more experienced. Never argue about technique.
- You are here for practice. Do not force your ideas on others.
- If you know the movement being studied and are working with someone who does not, you may lead the person through it. But do not attempt to correct or instruct your training partner if you are not of senior yudansha level.
- Keep talking on the mat to an absolute minimum. Aikido is an experience.
- Do not lounge around on the mat before or after class. Space is for students who wish to train. There are other areas in the dojo for socialising.
- The mat should be swept before class each day and after practice is over. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the dojo clean.
- No eating, drinking, smoking, or gum chewing on or off the mat during practice, nor on the mat at any time.
- No jewellery should be worn during practice unless properly secured.
- Never drink alcoholic beverages while still wearing practice gi.
- Respond to new situations with common sense.