Aikido Dojo Etiquette

General Rules

Aikido Dojos operate in the spirit of Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei. Adherence to traditional standards and proper etiquette is a necessary element of a dojo's successful operation. The dojo is a place for the dissemination of O'Sensei's teachings and each student much make a commitment to honor and follow those teachings.

1.   Every student is responsible for creating and atmosphere of harmony and respect.

2.   Respect O'Sensei's teachings as interpreted and taught by Waite Sensei.

3.   Respect the dojo, respect your training tools, and respect each other.

Dojo Etiquette

Upon entering a traditional martial arts dojo, Westerner's are often uncomfortable with the unfamiliar bowing and the many forms of etiquette.   Many may feel the bowing and the rules of etiquette are exaggerated and unnecessary.   However, just as daily life in the Western world is filled with social manners and customs designed to enable communication without misunderstanding, so too is life in a traditional martial arts dojo.   Etiquette and social manners allow us to practice safely as well as develop compassion and mutual respect.   The martial arts are a discipline and physical technique is a vehicle for your personal refinement and spiritual growth.   The dojo is not a place to display your ego but a place for uplifting and cleansing one's body, mind, and spirit.  

Although there are many forms of etiquette to remember, they will become natural as you continue to train.   Please do not be resentful if you are corrected on a matter of etiquette, this too is a part of your training.   Practicing proper etiquette goes a long way in promoting an ideal atmosphere of harmony and respect.   The correct attitude of respect, sincerity, and modesty creates an atmosphere essential to the learning process and safety of each student.

1.   Upon entering and leaving the dojo, always perform a standing bow toward O'Sensei's portrait.

2.   Remove your shoes and place them neatly on the shoe rack when entering the dojo.   This not only keeps the dojo clean and free of tracked in dirt but it also symbolizes leaving your material day, your ego, and your troubles at the front door.

3.   When entering and leaving the mat area, always perform a seated or standing bow facing the Kamiza.

4.   Respect your training tools.   Dogi should always be clean and in good repair.   Out of respect for your training partners, always wash your uniform after no more than two training sessions.   Dogi should never be left overnight, always take them with you when leaving the dojo.   Weapons should be in good condition and stored in the proper place when not in use.

5.   Use good personal hygiene.   Finger and toe nails should be trimmed short and kept clean to avoid injury.   If you use the dojo showers, please supply your own towel and bath products.   Rinse the shower thoroughly when finished and take your towel and bath   products with you.

6.   Do not be late for class.   Getting on the mat after class has begun is disrespectful to Sensei and is a disruption to your fellow students.   Arrive at the dojo early enough to be changed and on the mat 10-15 minutes before class starts.   Use this time to warm up or sit quietly in preparation for class.   Do nothing to disturb others who are waiting for class to begin.  

7.   Class opens and closes with a bowing ceremony and it is important for you to participate.   If you are unavoidably late for class, sit quietly in seiza, at the edge of the mat, until Sensei gives you permission to join the class.   When stepping onto the mat perform a seated or standing bow facing the Kamiza.   Do not disrupt the class when entering the mat area.

8.   The proper way to sit on the mat is in seiza.   If an injury prevents you from sitting in seiza, you may sit cross-legged with your feet underneath.   Never sit with your legs outstretched or lean against walls and posts.   You must remain alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

9.   Do not leave the mat for any reason without first receiving Sensei's permission.

10.   If you must leave the mat or have a question for Sensei regarding practice, go directly to him; never call Sensei over to you.   Bow respectfully and wait for his acknowledgment.

11.   While Sensei is demonstrating a technique, you should sit quietly and attentively in seiza.   After the demonstration, bow to Sensei, then bow to a partner, and begin practice.

12.   When Sensei signals the end of a technique or practice session, stop immediately, bow to your partner, and line up with the other students.

13.   When receiving personal instruction during class, sit attentively in seiza.   Bow to Sensei when he has finished.

14.   If someone near you is receiving personal instruction from Sensei, you may stop your practice and observe.   Sit quietly in seiza and bow to Sensei when he has finished.

15.   Never stand around idly on the mat; you should be practicing or, if necessary, attentively waiting your turn.

16.   If you know the technique being studied and your training partner does not, you may lead your partner through the technique but do not assume the role of the instructor.

17.   Your are here to practice Aikido as interpreted and taught by Waite Sensei; do not force your ideas on others.   At the same time respect those who are more experienced than you.

18.   During class keep talking to a minimum and directly related to what you are practicing.

19.   It is everyone's responsibility to keep the dojo clean and in good repair.   If you see something that needs to be done, show initiative and do it.  If you're not sure what to do, alert a senior student to any need you may uncover.   If you would like to volunteer any personal skills that might be an asset to the dojo, please speak to a senior student.

20.   There is no eating, drinking, or gum chewing in the mat area.   There is no smoking anywhere in the dojo.

21.   In order to prevent injury or damage to personal property, no jewelry should be worn during practice.

22.   The telephone is for dojo business and emergency use only.   Do not use the dojo telephone for personal use.   All cell phones and pagers should either be turned off or on silent and kept in the changing rooms so as not to disrupt class.

23.   Sensei's office, the dojo office, the Uchi Deshi room, and the storage area beyond the mat are private and off limits to students.   If Sensei is in his office, knock first and wait for his permission before entering.

24.   Visitors are always welcome to observe class but the following rules of etiquette should be followed:

  • Do not disturb anyone on the mat.
  • Sit quietly and respectfully.
  • Do not talk or walk around while Sensei is demonstrating.
  • Do not eat, drink, or chew gum in the mat area.   Do not smoke in the dojo.
  • Make sure all cellphones and pagers are either turned off or on silent.

25.   All visitors should be treated as prospective students and training partners.   Everyone should make a concerted effort to make visitors, and new students as well, feel welcome.   If a visitor enters the dojo during practice, either excuse yourself from class to greet them or alert a senior student who may not have seen them enter.

26.   If you are unsure of what to do in a particular situation, ask a senior student or simply follow their lead.

27.   Most importantly, always have fun and enjoy your practice!