Dojo Etiquette


A dojo is the place where you train.  It may be a special martial arts facility, a gym, or a dirt field.  What is important about this place is that it has been set aside for training.  You must remember that you have come to the dojo to learn; therefore, you will be expected to adhere to a set of established rules.  These rules vary from dojo to dojo, so if you are visiting another dojo remember that one will never be corrected for being too formal and courteous.

The following are explanations of rules and guidelines of etiquette that dojo members should be aware of.  Realize that all of these rules are established on the basis of respect for our dojo, classmates, and instructors as well as to promote the safety and well being of all.


1.  How to sit properly in class.

The most respectful ways to sit are seiza (folded legs) and anza (cross legged).  In seiza, the legs are folded under the body with the right big toe slightly touching the left big toe. The back should be straight and hands should be rested on the thighs or in a folded position between the legs.

In anza, the legs are crossed Indian style with the back straight and the hands resting in a similar manner as with seiza.

Admittedly, the legs get tired in both these positions until they have been practiced numerous times.  In this case, sit comfortably but politely in another position, but do not sprawl or lie down on the mat since this is extremely disrespectful.  Again, seiza and anza are the most respectful positions, and you are encouraged to practice them often, especially seiza.


2.  Listening to instructions

When an instructor is explaining a technique or making any type of announcement, stop what you are doing immediately and listen.  Stand or sit (as explained above) quietly and do not wander around the mat, shuffle your feet, or distract in any way.  Also, DO NOT practice a technique while it is being explained.  You will have plenty of time afterwards to do this; while the teacher is explaining is the time to be listening and watching carefully.  Give your full attention to the instructor.


3.  Addressing the instructor

The instructor for a class should always be called sensei or by their title (Dr., Mr., Mrs., etc.).  In response to being called on, being asked to answer a question, or when acknowledging instruction, it is always proper to answer with a “Sir (or Ma’am)” or “Yes, sir (ma’am).”  Do not call the instructor by his/her first name while in the dojo.  Outside of the dojo this is a matter between you and that person.


4.  Asking questions

If you need to ask someone a question, and they are working/practicing at the time, do not disturb their practice.  This breaks their concentration, and could lead to a dangerous situation.  Wait patiently nearby and you will be recognized at an appropriate time.


5.  Rank System

If a dispute arises over how a technique should be executed, the lower rank should always defer to the opinion of a higher rank in this matter.  If the higher rank is uncertain about the technique or cannot properly answer the question, then the next higher rank should be consulted.  The instructor should only be questioned by the highest ranking student except when the instructor is soliciting questions from the class in general.

This is called the kohei/sempei system.  Kohei are all lower ranked students.  Sempei are all non instructing black belts.


6.  Proper uniform

If you intend to continue practice, it is important that you purchase a white judogi.  Do not wear jewelry or any metal objects of any type during practice.  This includes rings, watches, safety pins, barrettes, bracelets, earrings and necklaces.  Please keep your nails clean and trimmed.  Personal hygiene should be of the highest standard.  This is an important safety issue.

If adjustments need to be made to your gi, turn away from your partner and/or the instructor.  This reflects respect and decency.


7.  Warm up

Always work within your own limits.  Every class will begin with warm up exercises intended to prepare the body for more strenuous activity.  The instructor will encourage you to work at your own level, but you are the best judge of your limits at a given time.

If you are late to class, warm yourself up first away from the class and then wait until the instructor notices you.  Do not interrupt the class.  If an instructor is unaware of a person who has joined the class late without permission there is an increased risk of injury.  Everything is done with everyone’s safety in mind.


8.  Injuries

If there is any injury during practice, bring it to the attention of the instructor immediately.  If it is an injury sustained before coming to class, let the instructor know before you begin to train.  It might be safer to sit and watch.  We use red tape for you to mark any area on your body that is healing so that your training partner can easily remember to avoid stress to this area. Remember that almost all injuries are caused by a lapse in concentration.  Be alert and stay focused.


9.  Chewing gum

Do not chew gum during class.


10.  Drinking and drugs

Do not ever come to class intoxicated in any way.


If all rules and guidelines are observed, class will be more enjoyable for everyone and much more will be learned in the limited time that we have.  Improvement in the martial arts comes only through respect and consideration for the instructor, the class, and yourself.