Dojo Etiquette

October 2, 2011

One of the most important things we practice in Japanese Martial Arts is good manners. Our manners reflect how we respect the dojo, Sensei, classmates and the art.

The dojo is a place for learning “the way”, originally the term applied to the place where one would meditate and receive teachings as they pursued enlightenment.

Enlightenment means, being able to live a life free of the suffering that comes from attachment to illusions created by ignorance and desire.

Not all martial arts training halls encourage the study of Zen meditation and some never mention it. Teachers of martial arts are not necessarily teachers of Zen in the U. S., but the protocol of the Zen dojo is the same in the martial arts dojo.

When we bow, we bow from the waist in the direction of the senior present, the Joseki or our training partner. We bow when entering or leaving the dojo, prior to and after practicing with a partner, approaching the Sensei with a question, at the start and end of instruction ; we bow before stepping onto the tatami and as we step off, at the beginning and end of a contest, and whenever summoned or directed by Sensei.

Quiet should be maintained in the dojo when Sensei is speaking, and no toys, tools or weapons should be brought to the dojo without first getting Sensei’s permission.

Other than when scheduled by Sensei, there should be no eating or drinking.

We never chew gum or smoke in the dojo.

Junior ranking students do not instruct others unless assigned by Sensei.

Seniors are expected to set the example for juniors by following all dojo protocols, never contradicting Sensei’s instructions, unless aware of an overlooked safety hazard or imminent danger.

Sensei will notify students who are to be promoted. In the traditional dojo it is not proper to ask for a promotion but one may ask what is required for a promotion.

One must never forget the true value of compassion and humility.

Joe Sensei