USEFUL HINTS AND TIPS
We know that joining a martial arts club can sometimes be a little daunting and maybe even confusing. This is particularly true if normal dojo behaviour is steeped in cultural references that you're not used to.
Don't worry, we don't expect you to get it straight away but we've jotted down a few pointers to help you out.
Entering and Leaving the Dojo (Training Hall)
As you enter or leave the dojo, perform a standing bow towards the picture of O Sensei (or 'kamiza') at the front of the mat. You should wear sandals or flip-flops to and from the mat but never on it. As you step on and off the mat, you should always bow the picture of O'Sensei.
Starting a class
When the sensei (instructor) enters the dojo, all members should kneel in a line facing towards the kamiza. Sit in grade order with the senior grades to the right. All members bow to the kamiza as a sign of respect, then bow to the sensei saying “onegaishimasu” (pronounced on-egg-eye-she-mass) meaning, ‘please teach me’. Follow sensei’s lead during the warm-up exercises.
Remember to bow to each of your training partners before you practice and when you stop. If sensei gives individual instruction to you and your partner, it is proper to perform a bow afterwards as a ‘thank you’. Whilst sensei is working with your partner, kneel on the tatami. When sensei demonstrates a new technique to the class, bow after he invites you to partner up and practise it. Always ask permission from the instructor before you leave the mat for any reason.
Arriving late or leaving early
We all run a little late from time to time. Don't worry, if you are late for a session, just get changed quietly and then wait edge of the mat until sensei is not demonstrating and has invited you on. Don't forget to take a bow.
Line up in grade order as at the start of the class and all bow with sensei towards the kamiza. It is polite to say, “Domo arigato gozaimashita” (pronounced go-zy-mash-eeta) meaning, ‘thank you very much’. Allow the instructor to leave the tatami first. After the sensei has left the mat, bow to your partners as a polite thank you.
Please keep you and your gi clean. Fingernails should be kept short and long hair tied back. No jewellery or footwear should be worn on the mat.
Never sit with your back to the picture of O’Sensei.
Always remember that the most important person on the mat is the person you're training with. They are giving their time and their body to help you practice, so please be thoughtful and practice safely. Make sure that your gi remains tied properly and weapons should be placed perpendicular to the sides of the mat and never in front of the kamiza.