Why the etiquette?

Etiquette plays an important part in our training in Karate-Do. It makes us aware of what is going on around us as well as reminding us of our responsibility in being part of society. Etiquette is just common courtesy - a basic feature of life which is noticeably missing from society today. It is also important to remember that this must not be seen or interpreted as an act of subservience. You cannot respect others unless you can respect yourself first. For those who have no difficulty in the dojo etiquette, you must respect others discomfort in practicing some (if not all) of the etiquette rules required in the dojo. Like acquiring karate techniques, let them progress at their own pace.

The following rules of etiquette are not a form of servitude. They are to show your respect for the dojo and the people who train within it. If you are unsure about any dojo etiquette please ask a senior member of the dojo. Most of these are based on the traditional Japanese customs from where our style of karate originated from.

Chashitsu - (tea ceremony)

A "Chashitsu" (Room for Tea Ceremony)

Entering and Exiting the Dojo.

  • Remove outer clothing (overcoat, hat, gloves, shoes etc) before entering the dojo floor.
  • Bow and "Osu" when entering and exiting the dojo area and dojo floor.
  • If higher graded people enter the dojo with you, you should let them go first as a sign of respect for their grade. This includes going in and out of the changing rooms.
  • Always "Osu" when a black belt enters the dojo or walks past you as a sign of respect. This is an acknowledgement of their experience and dedication and, in most cases, for passing on their knowledge to you when they instruct the class.

Greeting Each Other

Mutual respect is very important. This acknowledgement should apply in class and out of class. Show respect to other people training by being quiet when changing or warming up if a class is in progress. Lining up for Class when going onto the dojo floor let your senior go on before you and say "Osu" 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 age (eldest first). When lining up always ensure that you are not standing ahead of your senior grade i.e. always make sure your lines are straight. When kneeling for the greet always go onto the left knee first then right. Your senior grade should begin kneeling before you.

Class Etiquette

  • If you cannot train for the whole duration of the class, then arrange with the instructor of that class to be excused at the requested time. The instructor then will ask you to leave the class at an appropriate time so that you do not disrupt the class when doing so.
  • No talking in class unless asked. It is a sign of respect that you listen to the instructor taking the class.
  • When moving to your place during the class always go around the class, never cut through the middle of a line
  • When joining or leaving your partner always bow as a way of thanking them for the opportunity in working out together.
  • 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 ""Osu" sempai/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 told to line up do so quickly and in order of grade. Always ensure that lines are straight in class.

Being late to Class

  • Always endeavour to be at class on time, it disrupts the class when someone is late. However, there are times when being late is unavoidable for genuine reasons so being late to class is better than not being there at all.
  • If you are late, get changed and sit in seiza at the back of the dojo floor. Wait to be acknowledged to join the class by the instructor.
  • When the instructor acknowledges you to join the class, answer by saying ""Osu" sempai/sensei". Sometimes, you are told to do a few press ups before you join the class. This is done as a way of saying to the rest of the class "Im sorry Im late but Im here now to train hard with you".
  • When joining in, go to your normal place in the line up order.

Keeping the Dojo Clean and Tidy

  • Dojo comes from a word meaning "place of enlightenment". We respect this place by keeping it clean and tidy.
  • All equipment and gear should be removed from the dojo floor after the class and put away.
  • The dojo includes the changing rooms the toilets and the social area. These should be kept clean and tidy at all times.
  • The dojo floor is wiped with rags after every class. It is the responsibility of the senior kyu grade in the class to start the cleaning of the floor.
  • If you see a senior doing any cleaning etc offer to help or do the work for them.

Tidying up your Gi

  • If you find it necessary to tidy up your gi, bow and go down onto your left knee and ensure that you are facing away from the "kamiza"

Personal Etiquette

  • Always keep your Gi clean and tidy. Repair any rips or tears.
  • No jewellery is to be worn during class as it may injure yourself or another person.
  • Fingernails and toe-nails should always be kept short.
  • A WHITE T-Shirt is allowed to be worn underneath the Gi by females ONLY

Social Etiquette

  • Just as etiquette plays an important part of our training, it is equally important outside the dojo. The principles and values of Karate-Do such as love, respect, obedience, patience and courtesy are all completely transferable.
  • Karate-Do is known to be a strict traditional Japanese style and that is why we practise these traditions today.
  • An example of this when offering or receiving any object. This could be a weapon or in a more social environment a glass. It is Japanese tradition to offer or accept using two hands which demonstrates trust and openness.
  • When addressing a Black Belt outside the dojo you should call them Sempai/Sensei unless otherwise told by that person to refer to them on a first name basis.
  • If you notice one of the seniors waiting in a queue behind you, offer to get their order.
  • When sitting for a meal or having drinks, it is common courtesy to wait until Kaicho, Shihan or your head instructor (who ever is present at the time), has started first.

Absence from the dojo

  • 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.
  • Senior students should make an effort to have your apologies passed on if unable to make your regular class.
  • If you stop training for six months or more, it is a sign of courtesy to wear a white belt upon your return. You should first contact your sensei by telephone and arrange to return to the dojo. In some circumstances the student may not be required to wear a white belt. Your sensei will advise you on the protocol and inform you when you may wear your coloured belt(s) 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.

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Information courtesy of Kyoshi Roger Thyer-Jones

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