BEHAVIOUR IN THE DOJO
These rules and those that follow I learnt many years ago: Most Dojos that I have come across do not follow literally these rules and you may find that you will need to adjust when you visit other Dojos.
I always teach new students these rules so that they know where the etiquette comes from and also teach respect for there art and the people that practice with them.
Sensei Steve Fyffe
Make sure that all finger nails and toe nails are kept short and that long hair is securely tied back.
Note that no jewellery of any kind should be worn in the Dojo. Wedding rings etc which cannot be removed should be covered with a plaster.
Never walk on the mat with shoes on.
Never use the Dojo to change your clothes. Always use the changing rooms provided.
It is very important that you do not wear your Training GI outside of the Dojo unless Sensei has given permission or, that the circumstances (such as no Changing Rooms are provided). Wearing Training Gi outside of the Dojo does show a lack of respect for the School you train with and does show a lazy attitude. It could also lead to unnecessary problems outside the Training area.
Wash your Gi at least once a week and keep it in a good state of repair.
Keep a high level of personal hygiene.
No mobile phones turned on in the Dojo unless, there is an emergency, or, permission is obtained for personal reasons from the teaching Sensei.
Take pride in your Dojo and show respect when visiting others.
Five minutes before the start of class the Tatami (Mat) should be swept before practice will help maintain the Dojo in a clean, neat condition. All students should sweep the mat at some time without having to be asked. Regard the sweeping of the mat as a personal purification in preparation before training.
It is essential that you try always to be on time for training. If you are not regular with your time keeping, without reasons, it will be assumed that you show lack of respect for your Dojo, Your Sensei and the people that you train with. Unfortunately, it also shows lack of discipline and one would wonder if you were really interested in training at all.
Bullying will (NEVER) be tolerated either in or outside of the Dojo anyone who is found to be bullying will be severely dealt with. If any (Udansha) Black Belt is found to be bullying they will be expelled from the Dojo with immediate effect.
THE DOJO (PLACE OF TRAINING)
The Dojo is not the place to socialise, it is a place of training. Socialising after training sessions is encouraged and Dojo meals are organised twice a year (more if interest is shown).
When one is training in any Budo art Japanese Martial Arts, it is very important for everyone to understand and follow all of the above rules.
SEMINARIES AND VISITING OTHER PEOPLE'S DOJOS
When visiting other places of training, things maybe done differently so make sure that you ask first the main rules if any they have.
We follow the Japanese style of training NOT the western ways.
How to enter the Dojo
Even though the mats may not be down on the floor at the time of your arrival, please pause at the main door of the Dojo and perform a Standing Bow towards the Kamiza (the area in the Dojo where the photograph of O Sensei is displayed). This is to indicate that you have left the outside world and entered the place of training.
Zori (sandals or other slip on shoes) must be worn to and from the Tatami (practice mat). Step out of them and on to the Tatami with a backwards step, thus leaving them ready for use when you leave the Dojo. Go to the corner of the Tatami and perform a Kneeling Bow towards the Kamiza.
To perform a Kneeling Bow remain seated on your knees. Place the left hand, then the right, on the Tatami in front of you so that the two thumbs and index fingers form a triangle. Bow the head, keeping the back straight, towards the Tatami. The forehead should not touch the Tatami, but remain about four inches above it.
If you are late for any reason, get changed first then enter the Dojo as usual perform Kneeling Bow after removing your Zori (sandals or other slip on shoes) at the corner of the mat and wait in Seiza (kneeling, sitting on your feet) to be noticed by Sensei or senior student.
Please make sure that you have been put in the register and paid for your mat fee before you get changed for Class.
Starting The Class
When the Sensei (teacher) enters the Dojo all members should already present and should be lined up, sitting in Seiza (kneeling, sitting on your feet) in grade order with the senior graded students to the right hand side when facing the Kamiza. The Sensei's entrance may be announced by the signal of a double handclap from a senior student (Senpai).
All class members will join the Sensei in 3 successive Kneeling Bows to the Kamiza, followed by clapping in time 4 times. The Sensei will bow to the Kamiza, then the Sensei will turn round and face any black belts, they bow to each other. The Sensei will then bow to the class, everyone should then return the Sensei's Bow, the class may say "ON-EGAI-SHIMAS" ("Please Teach me").
Generally, warming up exercises will follow unless these have already been done prior to Sensei's arrival.
During The Class
When practicing with a partner you should perform a standing Bow to each other at the beginning of a technique to denote acceptance of a partner's offer of practice and to thank them for their practice when the technique is concluded.
If the Sensei should instruct you or your partner individually, sit in Seiza on the Tatami at a safe distance while the Sensei is working with your partner, but be ready to participate. Both should perform a Bow of gratitude to the Sensei afterwards.
Make sure that your Gi remains tied properly during practice, and that you remain adequately covered. If your clothing needs adjustment, excuse yourself and make the adjustment at the edge of the Tatami, always facing away from the Kamiza.
If you require a drink of water or otherwise need to leave the mat during practice, inform the Sensei or a senior student (Senpai) before leaving the mat.
Generally, there is only one Sensei teaching, If you, or your partner has any problems with the material being taught both must go to the edge of the mat and wait sitting in Seiza until Sensei comes to offer asistance.
It is very important that Senior Students (Sempai) do not teach or help their partner when training because it will end up with bad habits being created and will eventually effect the senior Student's own training.
The method of training is: each person should practice attack and defence twice on each side then bow to each other then change role and continue until the sensei teaching calls "Stop".
It is vital that training is continuous as you will learn much more quickly and your general fitness will vastly improve.
Note: Always remember there is only one Sensei teaching unless otherwise indecated.
TALKING DURING TRAINING:
It is very important that chatting is kept to a minimum; this is because Aikido needs all of your concentration, if you are talking your concentration cannot be completely on what you are doing. You would NOT chat with the person you are being attacked by, or in a (Randori) Multiple Attack Defence situations, you would need all of your wits about you!
You are encouraged to stay for a drink after training, please take the time AFTER training session for chatting.
Finishing The Class
When the end of the class is indicated by the Sensei, line up as before in a straight line with the senior graded students to the right hand side when facing the Kamiza as at the start of the class.
All class members will join the Sensei in a Bow to the Kamiza. The Sensei may then Bow to any senior assistants first. The whole class will then return the Sensei's Bow and then may say: "DOMO ARIGATO GOZAIMASHITA" ("Thank you for teaching me").
The Sensei will leave the Tatami first, the most senior student present will call for the whole class to Bow to the Kamiza by calling "REI" ("Bow"). The class will then bow to most senior student present, thanking each other for training together before rising.
Those students who have not been involved in getting the mats out, please could you help put them away as quickly as you can. The more people involved the quicker the job can be done.
When leaving the Dojo perform Kneeling and Standing Bows in similar manner to when entering the Dojo, but in reverse order. Step in to your prepared Zori as you leave.
Titles used in the Dojo
Literally means "Live In Student" These days it means beginning student or junior student.
SEMPAI: literally mean senior training student.
SENSEI: MEANS THE ONE WHO HAS GONE BEFORE, not Teacher as so many people think. Usually in the Dojo (Aikido) other titles are seldom used, these days most dojos use the "BUDO" terms.
RENCHI KYOSHI: These terms are used as levels of teacher skills these titles are generally not used on the mat they should only be used as written or verbal titles to indecate there so called status.
SHIHAN: This term is used far to commonly these days it means "master" teacher and like the above is usually written etc.
The term Sensei is use for all the above senior titles. for example you may be a Shihan but generally you still would be called Sensei.
Shodan is probably the hardest Yudansha as it is your first Black Belt. It does come with immense responsabilities and many fall by the wayside. It is very much like someone stepping on the first rung of a ladder but, unable to place the second foot there alsoIt must be stressed at this point that it is a very full hardy and dangerous thing to compare your grade with others in the dojo. Grades are awarded for many reasons NOT just for technical ability alone. We are all individuals and because this is so, other aspects must be taken in to account. Such as age, disability attitude and so on. If you become conceted about your black belt then you will lose it to one greater than yourself.
REMEMBER: the higher grade you are the more responsibilities you have and I hope the more respect should be given.
Attitude To Aikido
Aikido is a vast inclusive system. An essential part of that system is its Martial Arts aspect.
Aikido is a physical Budo, but should be accompanied by ppersonality improvement and mental and spiritual growth.
Advantage should not be taken of your partner's openings during practice. They are pointed out during training only so that we become aware that they exist and may therefore protect ourselves.
Practice means working with a partner and should never be a contest or conflict of energies. Each individual, both Uke and Tori, move from the centre in all techniques and uniting, become a singlular controlled movement.
In knowing that an aggressor will take advantage of any opening provided, the Aikido Student must eliminate such openings and develop control of the opponent to avoid being hurt. At the same time the Aikidoka must control without hurting the opponent or allowing them to hurt themselves.
O Sensei sanctioned two occasions when Aikido may be used, they were:
1. When one is in personal danger
2. When one sees others in danger
However, even in such a situation every effort must first have been made to settle matters peaceably and only when such efforts seems useless should the art of Aikido be used.
If after reading these rules and you still have questions please do not hesitate to speak to the leading Sensei, or one of the Senior students for more clarification.