May 10, 2017

Dojo Etiquette

Although Aikido is a relatively young art form, it is derived from the ancient fighting arts of Japan and is therefore steeped in tradition. Although there seem to be many forms of etiquette to remember, they will come naturally as you continue to train. Please do not be resentful if you are corrected on a point of etiquette for each one is important to your safety and to the learning experience. If you are unsure of what to do in a particular situation, ask a senior student or simply follow your senior’s lead.

  1. Upon entering and leaving the practice area of the dojo, make a standing bow.
  2. Always bow when stepping on or off the mat in the direction of the kamiza and the picture of the founder O-Sensei.
  3. Respect your training tools. Gi (practice uniform) should be clean and mended. Weapons should be in good condition and in their proper place when not in use.
  4. A few minutes before class begins, you should be warmed up, seated formally, and in quiet meditation. These few minutes are to rid your mind of the day’s problems and prepare for study.
  5. The class is opened and closed with a formal ceremony. It is important to be on time and participate in this ceremony. If you are unavoidably late, you should wait, formally seated beside the mat until Sensei 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.
  6. The proper way to sit on the mat is in seiza (formal sitting position). If you have a knee injury, you may sit cross-legged, but never sit with legs outstretched and never lean against walls or posts. You must be alert at all times.
  7. Do not leave the mat during practice except in the case of injury or illness. In such cases, notify the instructor of your situation first.
  8. During class when Sensei demonstrates a technique for practice, you should sit quietly and attentively in seiza. After the demonstration, bow to Sensei, then to a partner and begin practice.
  9. When the end of a technique is signaled, stop immediately. Bow to your partner and quickly line up with the other students.
  10. Never stand around idly on the mat. You should be practicing, or if necessary, seated formally awaiting your turn.
  11. If for some reason, it is absolutely necessary to ask a question of Sensei, go to him, never call him over, bow respectfully and wait for his acknowledgment. (A standing bow is appropriate.)
  12. When receiving personal instruction during class, sit in seiza and watch intently. Bow formally to Sensei when he has finished. When he is instructing another, you may stop your practice to watch. Sit formally and bow to him when he has finished.
  13. Respect those more experienced. Never argue about technique. You are here for practice; do not pressure your ideas on others.
  14. If you know the movement being studied and you 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 it you are not of senior yudansha (black belt) level.
  15. Keep talking on the mat to an absolute minimum. Aikido is experience.
  16. Do not lounge around on the mat before or after class. The space is for students who wish to train.
  17. The mat should be swept before class each day and after practice is over. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the dojo clean.
  18. No eating, drinking, smoking or gum chewing on or off the mat during practice or on the mat at any time.
  19. No jewelry should be worn during practice.