Dojo Etiquette & How To Behave During Class

Etiquette in (and outside) the dojo is held of the highest importance in Karate Do. This is a big part of the “Do” of karate. Or “The Way” of Karate (visit here for the meaning of Karate Do).

Dojo etiquette is firmly based on manors. Simple. However, being a Japanese martial art, they are also very stringent on actions that denote manors in the Dojo. As Bayford Karate Club and the JKA are Shotokan, then any dojo you go to will have the same etiquette requirements (including many other styles of Karate Do), so these will do you well.

  • Always arrive at the class 10-15 minutes ahead of time to allow for getting changed, cleaning the Dojo and warming up yourself. Although we do a warm-up in the dojo, it is a short one so we can spend more time teaching. Realistically, by the time training starts you should be warmed up and ready to go.
  • Before entering the dojo, please remove all shoes, socks, jackets and jewellery. Basically only enter the dojo in correct training attire (which can include a jacket to keep warm before and after training)
  • Please ensure hair is tied up and all nails are worn short. All clothing and persons must be clean with no offensive writing on clothing
  • When entering the dojo. You will need to bow towards shomen (the front) of the dojo. This may not always be directly to the front of the door, so a turn towards shomen may be necessary. After bowing to shomen (on the first entry to the dojo in that training session), another bow toward the instructor is also a sign of respect even if the instructor is not looking at you.
  • When leaving or entering the dojo during the course of the training, regardless of the amount of times or for what reason, you must ALWAYS bow towards shomen before entering or leaving.
  • After entering the dojo, if it has not been done already, Soji will be done by the lower graded students. This is the cleaning and preparation of the Dojo. We have all done it at some point, even those students with a high grade. Please note, this does not mean you wait for white belts to arrive. If you are the lowest grade in there (even a black belt), then you should be helping to clean and prepare the dojo. As a mark of respect, if you enter the dojo and a senior grade is cleaning or preparing the dojo for training, it is customary for the lower grade to ask to take over or assist. Cleaning the dojo is done both physically and mentally. Since we train in white and bare feet….it makes sense! It is also, and more fundamentally done, to clean the dojo of any negative energy before training begins.

During your beginners’ instruction, the instructor will explain and show you how to begin a class, where to stand, how to bow properly and even how to tie your new belt. So do not worry, you will be shown everything on your first day, if not by the instructor then by a senior student.

Once in the dojo there are a few guidelines or rules of etiquette.

  • No bad behaviour or disrespectful behaviour to ANYONE, higher grades, lower grades or equal grades
  • No swearing or foul language
  • No talking unless it is discussing karate in the training session
  • Always focus on the instruction being given, not what is happening around the dojo or outside.
  • Please save all questions until after class. If you have a question, wait until after class and then approach the instructor. Bow, say Oss, and ask your question starting with “excuse me Sensei, but may I ask”
  • Always try your best. Do not be lazy.
  • If you are asked to do something or given instruction. Always answer with Oss. It has many meanings, and in your beginner’s class the instructor will go over these with you.
  • Always do what is asked by the instructor or a senior student quickly and efficiently
  • No chewing gum.
  • If you are told to go to the side during class. You must not use this as a chance to drink, eat, chat or anything else. You should stand to the side quietly and watch what is happening in the class. Watching is very important when learning.
  • Never leave the dojo without the instructor’s permission.
  • Never break the line or go to the side without the instructor’s permission.
  • If the class is in a rest period, this just means you stand there in line focussed on breathing and recovery. If it is particularly hot, and the instructor deems it necessary, they may give you the chance to take a drink. If so. Run to the side, take a quick drink, then return as fast as possible to your position in the line.
  • Always be courteous and helpful to your fellow students.

If you have any questions on etiquette or behaviour in the Dojo. Please ask a senior student or the Instructor before or after the class, never during. Trust me, if you break dojo etiquette during the class…. They will tell you.

Contact us on:
07900 217 014

Dojo Address:
Bayford Village Hall
Hertfordshire SG13 8PX

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