Protocol and etiquette

Cultivating a courteous and humble attitude

In all areas of life etiquette is important to ensure thoughtful and stress free interactions between people. In martial arts clubs, etiquette is particularly important because it is essential to have a universally understood system where the correct behaviours can be followed so that training can be safe, healthy and enjoyable for students and instructors. Additionally, in martial arts it is important to cultivate a courteous and humble attitude.

General etiquette

Etiquette at the AAMA Karate Club emphasises courtesy to all and respect for our teachers and all Sempai. The Dojo is a special place where we train ourselves physically and mentally. The students should respect the Dojo and observe the following etiquette:

  • It is the students’ responsibility to look after a more senior student. This is just a small part of your awareness of courtesy in life. As an example, a queue may have formed for access to a door way. Look around as a senior student maybe behind you; it is your responsibility to ensure that you demonstrate courtesy and allow a more senior student to enter before you. Furthermore, within the Dojo where students are responsible for ‘housekeeping’ e.g. keeping the floors clean, a junior student should always offer to take a broom from a senior student.
  • A student must never walk between a teacher and a student; they should always walk behind the teacher.
  • When the teacher has given an instruction or advice to the class or a student, this should always be acknowledged by the student clearly saying ‘Hi (= yes) Shihan / Sensei / Sempai‘ as appropriate.
  • When a student wants to ask a question of a teacher they should raise their hand; in serious issues of illness or injury, the student should approach the teacher, bow and ask their question.
  • When moving more than 3 steps in the dojo, the student should run. Our training times are short and students should move quickly into place so that the class is not delayed.
  • Students should never leave the training mats without the permission of the teacher.
  • Inside the dojo students should be focussed on training – this means that there is no time for hilarity or talking to other students.
  • Students should keep their finger nails and toe nails short to prevent injury to other students or themselves during training.
Entering the dojo
  • Students should remove their shoes at the door and place them in neat order on the designated mat.
  • At the door, students should bow in recognition that they are entering the Dojo, a special place for physical and mental training, and they should be aware of the fact that the Dojo exists because of the efforts of many Karateka who have developed the art.
  • The student should mark their attendance on the role.
  • If possible, students should not travel in their gi – change room facilities are available. Once in their gi, they should then take their towel, mouth-guard and mitts and place them neatly along the wall near where they will be training.
  • If the student has not yet encountered the senior teacher on the mat they should approach the teacher, bow and greet them with the appropriate greeting for the time of training.
  • The student should then proceed to an area designated by the teacher to warm-up prior to the class. Note for some classes that this may be just outside the Dojo.
  • When leaving and entering the training area (e.g. going into the change room), the student should bow.
  • Food and drink should not be consumed inside the Dojo.
Ceremony at the commencement and conclusion of training

The class begins with a ceremony: students line up one arm span apart and facing the Shomen wall. All students line up in order of grade with higher ranks to the right.

  • The highest ranking instructor will then issue the following commands:Seiza (= kneel down)
    Mokuso (= meditate): we take a moment to empty our minds and prepare for maximum concentration during class. Meditation should be done with eyes closed, body relaxed, and exclusive concentration on your breathing.
    Yame (= stop): gently (but immediately) return the focus from your inner self back to the environment you are in.
    Shomen ni rei (= bow to shomen): we bow as a sign of respect and thanks to all of the founders and teachers of Karate.The senior student will then say:
    Shihan or Sensei or Sempai ni rei (= bow to Shihan): the entire class bows to the teacher and all students say onegai shimasu (= please teach me). This is an expression of thanks for the opportunity to learn Karate and for the efforts made by our teachers. It is also an expression of the humility required to be a good student of martial arts.
    Otagai ni rei (= bow to the others): the class bows and all students say onegai shimasu as an expression of thanks to their fellow students for the opportunity to train and learn together.
  • At the conclusion of the class the ceremony is repeated with Seiza, Mokuso with recognition and thanks given to all teachers and students. This time all students say arigato gozaimasu (= thank you very much) ..for teaching me, to Shihan (or the senior teacher) and then the thanks is repeated to their fellow students.
  • Students should always endeavour to be on time for training. If a student is late, the student should follow the procedure with marking their attendance on the role and equipment, then conduct their personal ceremony towards the Shomen wall, after which they should sit in seiza and wait for the teacher in charge to invite them to join the class.