You will find that Aikido Kenkyukai has a light hearted and joyful approach in the dojo, but there is also a serious side where standards of etiquette apply. A dojo is a place of great respect and demands students understand this. Not only does etiquette have a practical nature, avoiding unnecessary injury, but also sets a tone of concentration and awareness.
Please note that Aikido practice is not religious, but that there is bowing involved. At the beginning and the end of the class students are asked to bow to the front of the dojo where a picture of OSensei is placed, and then bow to the instructor. This is simply a mark of respect, not a religious ritual. If your religious beliefs restrict you from bowing to anyone but God, please speak to the instructor and seek exemption from the bowing. In this case you will be asked to sit respectfully to the side of the class while the bowing is conducted.
Aspects of Etiquette
Etiquette is customary behaviour and social rules of conduct. Through our embodiment of the spirit of etiquette the subtleties of its purpose will be revealed and deepen respect for the system and the art of Aikido itself. To help cultivate the correct spirit we must keep in mind what the meaning of the art of Aikido and its desired achievements. There we will find the inner desire and respect to perform the etiquette correctly.
One needs to embrace the principals of Aikido and dedicate oneself to the process of refinement of the self. This will be seen in:
- a desire to look further into the principles and not just the techniques,
- a desire to make use of what is learnt in one's life,
- being early for class (it creates cohesion of the class for all members),
- a spirit of cooperation rather than competition,
- a willingness to endure tough times,
- a willingness to be of service both on and off the mat,
- a willingness to be diligent with procedures,
- to be respectful and maintain a balanced personality,
- to speak openly and honestly and supportively (particularly in constructive criticism).
Respect is avoidance of all degrading aspects of martial arts by its members, and in daily life in general.
Acknowledge order, i.e., those with more seniority.
Bowing is an extension of gratitude and respect to that which you bow to.
Bowing should be done with the correct posture and feeling and is considered and felt as an insult if not done with proper integrity. Understanding and practice of the appropriate Ki tests will help you develop this technique and overcome possible embarrassment or misunderstandings.
Be alert, move swiftly and calmly.
Be aware of what's required, i.e. open windows, clean mats and dojo, pay fees, follow etiquette, etc.
Take responsibility - don't leave things for others, be early and ready to help, think of others.
Keep your dogi clean and tidy.
Keep your body clean and tidy.
Keep your language clean and respectful.
Keep talking to a minimum and appropriate especially when training.
Keep your mind free and alert.
Do not wear rings or jewellery, etc. while training.
Wear shoes to and from the mat (but not on the mat).
Bow in before entering the dojo (training room).
Bow in before entering the mat; if late for class wait until the sensei invites you on.
Line up before class in straight lines.
Bow together to Shomen (usually indicated by a portrait of O'Sensei).
Bow to your sensei.
Be attentive and focussed, move swiftly and calmly at all times when required.
Bow to your partner before training and bow on completion.
If you need to leave the mat, ask the sensei for permission.
If you need a rest sit neatly on the edge of the mat. Do not slouch or sit on a chair or talk unnecessarily.
Bow to your sensei when you are approached and bow on departure.
Bow out together to Shomen on completion of training.
Bow to your sensei.
Bow off before leaving the mat.
Bow out when leaving the room.
(Note: Some dojos have elaborate etiquette procedures so if you are in a new dojo ask some one about this. It is a sign of respect for their way.)
- Line up facing Shomen.
- Bow to Shomen.
- Bow to the Grading Panel.
- Bow to your partner(s).
Reverse the procedure after the grading