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Etiquette
General Matters During Class

Shoes are always left outside the dojo.

The karate gi (uniform) must always be kept clean and should be ironed before each class. All rips or tears must be repaired immediately.

Before entering (or leaving) class, it is necessary to bow. This is a way of paying respect to the art and to the other students. It is similar to a handshake or a military salute.

When the instructors (or a visiting instructor) enter the dojo, students must stand and bow. Students with long hair may wear something to keep their hair tied back, but such a device must be subdued in style and colour.

Glasses, contact lenses and hearing aids may be worn during training (at the wearer's own risk). Some instructors will not permit students to wear glasses when sparring, but sports glasses always permitted.

Any training injuries must be reported to the instructor at the beginning of class.

If you are watching a class, grading or tournament, sit quietly at the back and do not talk, eat, read or move around. Students are expected to remain throughout an event or a regular class. If you have to leave early, obtain permission in advance.

For aesthetic and safety reasons, all jewellery (including watches, rings, chains and earrings must be removed before entering the dojo. For the same reasons, nails must be kept short.

During class, students should not converse with each other or ask the instructor questions on Japanese culture, one is expected to learn by insight developed after much training, from rationalisation or explanation; this is very much opposite from how one learns about Western culture.

If it becomes necessary to adjust the gi, or belt, students must turn away from the front of the class. Normally, this should only be done during a break in training.

It is considered very disrespectful to yawn during class, as this suggests boredom. Watching the clock is inappropriate for the same reason.

If you arrive late, assume seiza position at the front of the dojo, until directed to join class. If you have to leave the dojo before class is over (because of another commitment, ill health or injury) obtain permission from the instructor.

 

Bow In Bow Out

Japanese culture places great emphasis on respect for one's senior. When the class commences, all students line up in order of seniority, facing the front (shomen). Students stand up in one row (space permitting), from right to left, in order of rank. Within each row, students also line up from right to left, in order of seniority.

The line should be centred behind the instructor and students should be shoulder to shoulder.

After lining up, students kneel down together (seiza). Everyone bows to the front and to the instructor (sensei ni rei).

Students then stand, one at a time, from right to left, in order of seniority.

This should proceed quickly and appear like a wave rolling from right to left. Formal lesson then commences.

At the end of the class, students line up and then assume seiza position. There is a brief meditation (mokusu). The guidelines set out in the dojo kuhn are central to all karate-do training and are meant to apply both inside and outside the dojo.

Exert oneself in the perfection of character

Be faithful and sincere

Cultivate the spirit of perseverance

Be respectful and courteous

Refrain from impetuous and violent behaviour


Again, everyone bows to the front and to the instructor. The instructor stands first, then everyone stands, from right to left, in order of seniority. It is polite, but not required, to move to the front before moving out of ranks.

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