general most classes in Spain are run in Leisure Centres or similar
facilities.In this type of
environment participants sometimes forget the true meaning and importance
of Dojo Etiquette.The bow is
the basic form of respect and gratitude.Stand facing the kamidana and bow on entering and leaving the
practice area of the dojo and when stepping on or off the mat.A few minutes before practice begins, warm up and sit in seiza
(kneeling) in quiet meditation.This
time is to rid your mind of the day's problems and to prepare for Aikido
practise.The formal bow to
begin and end practice is a bow in the direction of the kamidana (deity-shelf), and then a mutual bow between instructor and
students.Effort should be
made to be on time for class.If
unavoidably late, sit in seiza at the side of the mat and wait for the
instructor to acknowledge you.If
it is necessary to leave early, inform the instructor before class.Do not enter or leave the mat area while the instructor is showing
a technique.After the
instructor shows a technique, students bow, choose partners quickly, bow
to each other, and begin to practice.At the end of a practice session, stop practice immediately, bow,
and quickly line up in seiza.Wait
for further instruction.The
expression used at the beginning of class and of each individual practice
is onegaishimasu.After each
practice session, domo arigato gozaimashita is the expression used and it
is used also after class.Traditionally,
the instructor's title is Sensei (Teacher) in the dojo.The proper and preferred way to sit during practice is in seiza.A cross-legged sitting position is acceptable if seiza is not
possible, the instructor should be informed.Always, a balanced, straight posture should be maintained.Do not lean on walls or posts, never sit with legs outstretched.Students should not sit with their backs to the kamidana or pass
between the instructor and the kamidana or sit on the kamidana.Dogi’s should be clean and in good repair.Body, hands and feet should be washed and clean; fingernails and
toenails must be trimmed short.All
jewellery, watches and rings should be removed before class.Do not use alcohol or drugs before class.Without full alertness practice can be dangerous for yourself and
others.Blood is a potential
source of infection.If you
are bleeding, immediately leave the mat and attend to the injury.It is important to cover the wound thoroughly and to clean
any blood from the mat.Do
not let your blood come into contact with other students.Once class has started, students should not leave the mat without
consultation with the instructor.Please
do not eat, during class, any drinks should be consumed away from the mat
area and at the discretion of the instructor.When watching a class off the mat, watch quietly from the
back of the dojo.
class it is traditional for the students to sweep the mat area, this
should be treated as an honour and not a chore.The western equivalent would be for the students to take up the mat
area and store it correctly.Occasionally
the mat should be cleaned and sometimes repaired.Again the students should feel that it is their duty and out
of respect to do these jobs and not to try and skive out of them.
you have been to a dojo that was built and prepared according to the
Japanese tradition, you may have seen a shrine in the front of the dojo.The Shinto alter is called ‘Kamidana’
in Japanese and traditionally, every household had one.Kamidana is provided to
enshrine a deity and its purpose is to be a reminder to think about higher
moral thoughts and principals.Bowing
to the kamidana signifies paying
respect to God, nature and every person and object around us.It is also to show appreciation of having good health and
being fortunate enough to be able to carry out work duties, study, or if
it is in the dojo, the appreciation of being able to practise.
the kamidana in the shinden are one or a few ofuda
sacred pieces of paper or wood received from a shine and give divine
protection against calamity and misfortune.Rice, sake, water and salt are ingredients symbolic to Shinto and
are offered to the divine.Shimenawa, or the enclosing rope on the top of the shinden
is a symbol, which designates a holy place.On each side of the shinden are two vases with branches from the sakaki
tree; an evergreen tree which is the sacred tree of Shinto.
should face south or east in a light high clean place.It can be co-located with the shomen,
the front of the dojo, but in no circumstance should the kamidana
face to the north or west.Also,
it should never be placed above an entrance or exit in the intent that no
humans can pass in and out beneath the kamidana.
term ‘kamiza’ in Japanese means the seat where people of high rank or
guests sits, and is the farthest from the entrance, in front of the ‘tokonoma’
or alcove in Japan.
inside the Shinden.
1) Shimenawa (enclosing rope)
2) Kagami (mirror): an indication of pure light, which
bright clarifying light of the Gods as well as the Truth and the Mind free
of all defilements
3) Sakaki (sacred wood)
4) Ghoshikinuno (five-coloured cloth)
5) Tomyo (sacred light)
6) Osonaemono (offerings): Objects which are made as offerings every
morning. Rice (cleaned, uncooked or steamed rice), water, salt on the
first of the month, products of the mountains and sea on the fifteenth,
and sake at festival times and on the first of a crop of rice are offered.
A good Aikido student will always conduct him, or
herself, in a dignified, respectful and courteous manner. Treat your
Teacher, Coach, Instructor, Senior grades, Junior grades and fellow
students with respect at all times. Be aware of the needs of others as
well as your own needs. Develop a caring attitude towards others. At all
times in the Dojo, you should train with your body and mind giving 100%
effort and concentration.
You should always keep your body clean
and well groomed, finger, nails and toenails should be kept short. No jewellery
or metal items of any kind should be worn during training.
No food or drink should be taken into
the dojo at any time. Liquid refreshment should be restricted only to
water and this should only be allowed at the teachers discretion and only
under special conditions or circumstances.
All graded students should wear a clean
Gi when training. In this way, all students are equal, it is not possible
to judge the station in life, profession, or ability by uniform. The only
means to evaluate the person as an Aikido student is to watch his or her
techniques and evaluate them against other of equal experience, grade or
standing. This is as it should be.
The Aikido student's Gi (Uniform) should
be white. The Gi should always be kept clean, neat and in good repair. It
should be worn closed left over right for both sexes. Usually men and boys
wear nothing under their Gi top. Ladies and girls should wear a plain
white t-shirt under their top.
In the Dojo there is a formalised etiquette. Covering how to greet people,
how to enter and leave the Dojo, how to tidy your Gi and how to tie your
belt. These formalities are observed by all Aikido students, regardless of
Etiquette is not a question of
Courtesy is based on respect; for oneself, for others and for the Dojo
(Training Hall). The basic expression of respect and courtesy, which comes
from Japanese culture, is the bow or Rei but can also mean courtesy. These
are two positions from which to bow - standing and kneeling.
The Standing Bow or Rei
Is performed with the feet close together and the hands, palm open and
held close to the side (against the side seam of the trousers). In Japan
ladies and girls place their hands flat against their thighs. The bow or
Rei is performed from the hips. Not just a nod of the head, dip of the
shoulders or bending at the waist. The head and eyes must remain
aligned and you should not be tempted look up or forward.
The Kneeling Bow or Rei
This is performed in what is known as "Seiza" or Kneeling
posture, you should use your left knee first, followed by the right knee. This
originates from the days when the Samurai wore their Katana or long sword
(usually on their left side). When sitting the feet should be crossed at
the toes, with the knees about six to eight inches apart (two fists
width). The hands should rest, palms open and down on the thighs.
When bowing from this position the head
should never touch the ground. You should look about 6 to 8 feet in front
of you and bow from the hips. Your hands should be placed palm down. First
left then the right. The hands should form a triangle using the thumbs and
fore fingers. Once again this comes from the days of the Samurai.
By placing the left hand down first it showed that you meant no harm,
because you could not draw your sword from this position. The bow is
complete when you return to the upright position.
When entering or leaving the Dojo, you
should stop just inside the doorway, face the shrine or Joseki (the place
where the Teacher and or V.I.P.'s. sit) and perform a standing Rei. Should a
student arrive when a class is in progress he or she should enter the Dojo
make a standing Rei, then kneel down in "Seiza" and wait to be
invited to join the class, either by the Teacher or by his senior
assistant. Once invited stand up make a standing bow to the shrine or
Joseki and join the class.
Before a lesson begins the class will
line up, in grade order with the senior grade nearest the Kamiza or Joseki. The senior
student will say "Seiza" followed by "Kamiza" or
"Shomen-ni-Rei" followed by "Sensei-ni-Rei". When the
lesson ends the class will line up as at the beginning. The senior grade
will call "Seiza" then "Mokuso", which means silent
meditation. You should sit with your eyes half closed thinking about what
you have been taught during the lesson. Breathing in deeply through the
nose and out through the mouth.
This period of meditation will stop when
the senior grade calls "Yame" (this means end). The next
command will be "Sensei-ni-Rei". The class bow to the teacher
and he or she returns the bow. The next command is "Kamiza-ni-Rei".
The class turn to the Kamiza or Joseki and bow again.
The class remain seated until the
Teacher and senior grades stand up. Here again when you leave the Dojo you
should face the shrine or joseki and bow.
This bowing, is not a sign of subservience but a sign of respect shown to
the whole aspect of, the Dojo, your Teacher, your fellow students,
training with you and for the privilege of being allowed to study the