Etiquette is an integral part of any traditional budo. There is a saying: Budo starts and ends with courtesy. It is extremely important to follow etiquette rules, as they help practitioners to follow the martial path safely and with pleasure. Etiquette helps practitioners to be constantly aware and at the same time respectful to the partners, teachers, and students. The dojos where etiquette rules are optional often lose the spirit of budo.
In our Aikido school, everyone is expected to follow the traditional rules of etiquette. The following points are important but not exhaustive rules. You should watch how do other people behave and listen to the teacher.
Good manners in dojo:
- Take off your shoes before entering tatami area.
- Sit on your knees and bow to kamidana - a central area with Japanese writings on the wall.
- Clean the mats before practice. Do not rest if others are still cleaning.
- Every time make a standing bow when enter or leaving the tatami area.
- Change your close and warm up yourself by doing stretching exercises or techniques. Never sit on the mat area without working. If you want to chat - you can do it, but only if you continue to warm up. But it is always better to chat outside the mats.
- About two minutes before the training begins, seat in a line facing the kamidana. Line up according to your ranking. Higher ranks to the right, lower - to the left (if facing kamidana). Wait for the teacher in seiza position without talking.
- When the teacher enters the tatami area and sits in seiza, make an introductory bow ritual, indicating the beginning of practice: Bow twice, clap twice, and bow once again. Then wait until the teacher turns towards the students, and bow to the teacher saying 'Onegai shimasu!'. Teacher bows to the students as well. 'Onegai shimasu!' can be translated as 'Please!' but literally means 'doing politeness'. It is a kind of verbal agreement between you and the teacher to be careful and polite with each other. Agreement not to try intentionally hurt each other but be sincere and open-minded.
- When the teacher calls somebody to assist in demonstrations, that person must bow and quickly run to the center of mats, sit in front of the teacher and bow again. After the demonstration is finished, bow again from the seiza position.
- When the teacher demonstrates or explains something everyone must watch and listen. Do not wipe your face with towels, or rearrange your uniform during demonstrations. When the teacher and his assistant bow to each other everyone must sit in a seiza position. For the rest of the demonstration you can sit with crossed legs, but never expose your soles or lean to the wall to rest. Your back must be straight and you must be ready to react if any danger comes. In small dojos, there are high chances that the teacher's assistant can fly in the direction of other students. In this case they must react immediately giving him way for a safe ukemi. It may be dangerous for you and the teacher's assistant if you are losing concentration during the explanations.
- When you begin to practice with a new partner, sit in seiza, bow to each other, and say 'Onegai shimasu!'. When you finish - sit, bow, and say 'Arigatou gozaimashita!' or you can say 'Thank you' if your partner is not Japanese.
- No chatting is allowed during the training. However, you can ask questions about techniques without disturbing other students. If your partner does not understand a technique as well, try to do it at your level of understanding. The teacher will notice your struggles and correct you if necessary.
- At the end of training line up again according to your rank. Then bow to the teacher and say 'Arigatou gozaimashita!'. Wait until the teacher turns to kamidana, and make a closing ritual: double bow, double clap, and bow. Wait until the teacher turns back to you again, and say final remarks if he has.
- After the teacher leaves mats you should stand up and clean the dojo..
- Make a sitting bow to kamidana before leaving the dojo.