Dojo

Etiquette

  1. Upon entering or leaving the dojo, students bow in the direction of O’Sensei’s (Morihei Ueshiba) picture at the front of the practice mat. This is a tradition to show respect for the founder of Aikido.
  2. Normally shoes are taken off at the entrance of the dojo but due to the shared usage of the room footwear is allowed to the dressing room and along side the mat area. Only bare feet are allowed on the mat in order to keep it clean.
  3. All students should be on the mat at least 5 minutes prior to the beginning of scheduled class time. After the instructor claps his hand signaling the beginning of class all students should line up in a straight line following proper rank order (higher rank on the right side as you face the front). The instructor will lead the class in a formal bow to O’Sensei’s picture. The class will then bow to the instructor as he bows and greets you. If you arrive after the class has “bowed in” and formally started please bow in and remain sitting at the edge of the mat in seiza position until the instructor acknowledges you at which time you should join with the rest of the class.
  4. If you have questions for the instructor during class raise your hand. It is not proper to shout across the class to get the instructors attention. The instructors at this dojo prefer to be called by their first name or sempai, which means “senior student”. The feeling at the Kansas City Aikido School is that Tohei Sensei in Chicago is considered our Sensei. At other dojos it is proper to refer to the instructor teaching on the mat as Sensei (teacher).
  5. Students must ask the instructor to leave the class early or to leave the mat for any reason; common sense excludes injuries. It is not permissible to get a drink of water or sit down and rest unless given permission. Students should stay on the mat until the class is over. If you are feeling dizzy or tired to the point of exhaustion please sit in seiza at the side of the mat.
  6. Practice with unity of mind and body, avoiding all other extraneous talking and actions. Keep all talking on the mat to a minimum and in reference to what you are practicing at the time. Clear your mind of everything but the lesson given and the principles of Aikido.
  7. When the instructor claps, students should sit down promptly and listen and watch attentively. When the instructor indicates that practice is to resume, students bow to the instructor and promptly resume practicing.
  8. When changing partners during class, one should acknowledge the partner you are leaving as well as your new partner with a seated bow.
  9. Your partner is not an opponent. Techniques are learned through him and with him, regardless of the persons rank or abilities. It should be a pleasure being the person thrown (Uke) as well as being the thrower (Nage). Each movement in Aikido teaches the principles and spirit of Aikido and should be practiced sincerely.
  10. Care should be taken to be aware of the abilities of one’s partner so that no injuries may occur. Nage should always be watchful for signs that Uke is in pain. Uke’s attacks should always be under his full control and Nage should respond likewise. Uke’s “job” is to attack sincerely and then to follow while maintaining as safe a posture as possible. Nage’s “job” is to 1 ) move off the line of attack, 2) redirect Uke’s momentum via a technique, and 3) peacefully resolve the attack with the appropriate throw or pin.
  11. At the end of class, students should straighten their uniforms and line up. The instructor and students bow to O’Sensei’s picture and then the students formally thank the instructor while bowing to him. After that, the students remain in seiza position until the instructor leaves the mat or they are dismissed by him. At this time it is proper to bow to each student with whom you have practiced.
  12. It is the responsibility of the higher ranking members or more senior students (sempai) to see that the rules of etiquette are understood and followed by the members of the dojo. The senior students should assist the beginners in learning the proper bowing techniques, beginning exercises, and ukemi.
  13. It is the responsibility of each dojo member to ensure that the various needs of the dojo are met. These include: paying dues promptly, and making sure the dojo and mat are clean and presentable at all times. Fulfilling these needs should be anticipated, not prompted by the instructor. They should also be carried out cheerfully, without complaint. Taking care of the dojo and oneself should generate a feeling of pride in doing things to the best of one’s ability. This is as much a part of our training as is the repetition of techniques, suburi or ukemi.

Some Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Don’t sit on the mat with your back to O’Sensei’s picture, lie on the mat with your feet toward the kamiza or lean against the walls.
  • Don’t wear jewelry or watches.
  • Don’t eat food, smoke or chew gum in the mat area.
  • Don’t talk when the instructor is talking.
  • Don’t wear a dirty uniform. Don’t wear a hachi-maki (headband)while bowing.
  • Do keep your finger-nails and toe-nails trimmed and clean.
  • Do come to the dojo with clean hands and feet.

These “Do’s and Don’ts” are for respect towards the instructors, fellow students, and yourself, and to insure safety in the dojo.