Dojo Etiquette

A dojo is a place where we cleanse and enrich our mind, body and spirit. A dojo offers effective use only when it is filled with feelings of grace, respect, proper attitude and positive mutual support. When you enter the dojo, you will notice that everyone works very hard and sincerely to maintain these feelings, therefore feelings to the contrary should be left outside of the dojo. In order to ensure a safe and rewarding environment our dojo has implemented the following Rules of Etiquette.

Please note, some of these may be more restrictive than other Aikido schools. They have been adopted either to address safety concerns or to further enhance the unique training environment that Water Oak Aikikai provides.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the dojo please bring them to the attention of the Dojo-Cho or Chief Instructor.

General Etiquette
  • Food and drinks shall not be brought into the dojo. Water bottles may be left on the dojo porch with your shoes.
  • Smoking, drugs and alcohol will not be tolerated in the dojo or on the property.
  • Shoes or sandals must be worn between the house and the dojo. All footwear will be left on the dojo porch in an orderly fashion during training. They should be placed under the benches to the right of the door.
  • Items on the porch will be limited to footwear, weapons bags (neatly folded and placed on top of footwear), car keys (placed in footwear), cell phones (placed in footwear) and water bottles. All other articles will be left either in your car or in the house. Please remember that it is your own responsibility to retrieve your items.
  • No items will be placed on the window ledges or leaned against the screens or walls.
  • Jewelry shall not be worn on the mat during class. Jewelry should be left in the house or in your footwear. It is recommended that you purchase a small carbineer to hold rings and such. These can be hung on the bulletin board in the dojo.
  • Your training uniform shall be clean and mended at all times.
  • The dojo is not a locker room. You will be properly dressed at all times while in the dojo. (i.e. Hakamas will be put on before entering the dojo and removed after leaving the dojo area.)
  • Personal hygiene of hair, nails and body odor shall be conscientiously attended to. Be especially attentive to long finger nails and toe nails to minimize injury to oneself or to others. If you have long, dangerous nails you will be asked to leave the dojo until they are attended to.
  • Every student shall participate in keeping our dojo (inside and out) facilities clean and safe at all times. The cleanliness and safety of our dojo reflects the personal character of the dojo students as well as the dojo instructors.
  • Keeping the mat clean is extremely important since we really don't want to put our faces down on the things we walk through every day. Therefore, shoes or zoris will be worn at all times when outside the dojo. Training will be done barefooted and your feet will be kept clean. Tabi or socks are permitted during the winter months. Tabi must have cotton or leather soles because nylon is too slippery and rubber will damage the mats.
Training Etiquette
  • Always bow, when entering or leaving the dojo, in the direction of the Shomen.
  • Each class is started with a bow towards the Shomen. Then there is a bow between the instructor and the students. Classes are closed in the same fashion, first by bowing to the instructor, then the Shomen.
  • Be on the mat a few minutes before class starts to warm-up and then be quietly seated in seiza (folded legs position) before the instructor begins. The instructor may begin training immediately, that is not doing a warm-up, so be sure to stretch before hand.
  • When you arrive and class has already started, quickly change into your uniform, then wait patiently standing outside the dojo on the porch. Wait until the instructor signals permission for you to join the class before opening the door and entering the dojo.
  • The proper sitting position on the mat is in seiza. If you have a leg injury you may sit cross-legged (anza), but never with legs outstretched.
  • If you are waiting your turn to train, be seated in seiza. Never stand idly on the mat during class.
  • Never lean against the walls, columns or door of the dojo.
  • If your dogi becomes disarranged during training, bow to your partner, then sit facing away from the shomen to arrange your dogi. Stand, bow to your partner and resume training.
  • No one shall leave the dojo when a class is in session, except in the case of injury or illness. You shall first ask permission from the instructor before leaving the mat.
  • When you become physically ill or exhausted during class you shall refrain from training.
Instruction Etiquette
  • There shall be no conversation of any kind while the instructor is demonstrating or explaining to the class.
  • During class, when the instructor demonstrates a technique to the class or to you personally, sit quietly and attentively in seiza. After the demonstration bow then immediately resume your training.
  • Keep your conversation on the mat to an absolute minimum during your training. Aikido training is to be a meditative experience for yourself and your partners.
  • When the instructor is teaching a lesson with the class, you shall follow in accord. You shall not attempt to move ahead to another point, assuming that you know the present lesson.
  • When a technique is signaled to end complete the technique safely. Your partner has committed to the attack and you should not leave them hanging or dramatically alter the technique unexpectantly. Then bow to your partner and quickly line up with the other students.
  • Students shall not argue or discuss the technique to be practiced. Immediately request for the instructor to solve the difficulty.
  • If it is necessary to ask a question of the instructor, you shall go to the instructor and bow, then request personal instructions. Never call the instructor from across the dojo.
  • When another student nearby is being instructed, you MAY stop your practice and sit in seiza to learn. Bow to acknowledge the instructions and resume your training. Never interrupt another student's instruction.
  • Students shall not compare an instructor's teachings with another's for any purpose. Every instructor has some unique lesson to share. Respect those more experienced in Aikido.
  • It is inappropriate for any student (of any rank) to offer instructions or corrections when not formally conducting the class. During free practice all instruction should be limited unless with the direct and specific permission and supervision of the instructor. This is an essential lesson for your personal development, and shall be followed particularly among those who assist or instruct other classes.
  • Students of any rank may train with each other. Beginner students should be eager and are encouraged to seek out and train with advanced students.
Equipment Etiquette
  • After every class your uniform and weapons shall be taken home unless otherwise authorized. No personal articles should be left at the dojo or in the house.
  • All training weapons shall be treated with respect. Your weapons shall be in good condition and in their proper place when not in use. During class weapons are to be stored in the weapons rack and weapons bags are to be left on the dojo porch or in the house.
  • Never move or use another person's weapon without their permission.
  • Always respect every weapon as a dangerous instrument, even if it is made of wood.
  • When removing a weapon from the rack for use you should turn and raise the weapon and bow to the shomen before using it. You should also bow again when you conclude your use of the weapon.
  • If you need to set a weapon down during training you should lay it flat on the floor next to the wall. Never lean the weapon against the wall.
Sempai/Kohai Etiquette

Sempai = Senior                    Kohai = Junior

  • It is your honor to care for the instructors' well being. Your instructors shall be at all times treated with respect and referred to as sensei (dan ranks) or sempai (teaching kyu ranks)
  • Learn from your sempai the proper method of folding the instructors' hakamas and the placement of other personal items of your instructors.
  • It shall be every students' responsibility to inform new students of the rules and etiquette of our dojo.
  • Sempai will remember that they have a responsibility to help and guide their Kohai. Sempai will not take advantage of their position in any way.