The traditional etiquette of Japanese martial arts will be observed in our dojo at all times.

Bowing

Bowing is an important part of Budo etiquette. Please note that this bowing has no religious significance.

Students should perform a standing bow when they walk in the dojo door.

They should perform a seated bow when first stepping on the mat.

When the students line up as class begins, they should perform a seated bow of respect in unison to the portrait of O-Sensei at the front of the room, and then to the instructor.

They should perform a seated bow to each partner, before and after practising with them.

At the end of class, it is time for another seated bow in unison to the portrait of O-Sensei, and then to the instructor.

After class, it is customary to perform a seated bow to each person you have practiced with and thank them.

Silence

Aikido cannot be learned with the mouth. It is important to practice as intensely as you can at your level, so the distraction to your own partner and to nearby students caused by speaking should be avoided where possible. Don’t speak unless it is necessary or you are asking a question of the instructor. And please don’t speak while the instructor is speaking.

Sensei

Sensei basically means “teacher,” but it is also a polite form of address. At the very least, the person instructing the class should be addressed as Sensei and his or her instructions noted carefully and followed to the best of your ability.

When you call your teacher Sensei, you are acknowledging the “contract” between you; your teacher has an obligation to help you progress quickly in exchange for your attentiveness and hard work.

Sempai

Senior students are called “sempai.” Such a student normally will be three or four ranks higher than you are. They have a responsibility to help you learn the culture of the dojo. If a sempai offers you advice or asks for your help with a dojo task, please cooperate fully.

Other Points

Do not practice if you are intoxicated, angry, or injured.

Make sure that your gi and your body are clean before practice.

Every student is responsible for helping to keep the dojo clean.

If you become injured or must leave the mat for any reason, please consult the instructor immediately.

Fighting is strictly forbidden. Also, please avoid competitive practice and wrestling. Perform all techniques exactly as demonstrated.

These notes originally appeared on Aikido Hokuryukai’s website and appear here with their kind permission — Aikido Hokuryukai, all rights reserved, 2000.