Dojo Etiquette

Dojo Etiquette – Entering the Dojo

Dojo etiquette on entering the Dojo is to perform a standing bow to the Kamiza. (The Kamiza is the area of the tatami (mat), which is identified by a photograph of O’Sensei) There should be no shouting, running or inappropriate activity in the dojo (eating food etc) at any time. Guests should be shown to a seat and encouraged to watch quietly. Sensei or Sempei(senior student) will talk to guest at a later stage and inform them about the dojo. After changing ensure your Gi (suit) is on properly and obi(belt) is securely tied. If you wear a Hakama please ensure it is tied correctly and tightly so it will not come loose during class. Go to the corner of the tatami (mat). Slip your Zori (sandals) off at the edge of the mat ensuring that they are neatly placed turn and perform a standing bow then a kneeling bow again facing the Kamiza.

The Bow (Rei)

Kneel down facing the Kamiza and place the left hand then the right hand on the tatami in front of you, so that thumb and index fingers form a triangle. Then bending forwards from the hips lower your head to a point approximately six inches from the floor and return to a kneeling position.

Starting Class

Once you are properly dressed and on the mat, line up in seiza (kneeling position) in grade order facing the Kamiza. NEVER SIT WITH YOUR BACK TO THE PICTURE OF O’SENSEI OR WITH YOUR FEET POINTING TOWARDS O’ SENSEI AND THE KAMIZA. THIS IS VERY DISRESPECTFUL AND NOT ALLOWED. At The Circle of Harmony lining up in grade order is not so important but may be in other dojos so please be aware of this and should you practise in a dojo where this is the case please be respectful and observe the proper etiquette for that dojo. Perform your kneeling Rei towards the Kamiza. When Sensei gets on to the tatami he will kneel down and meditate for a moment, and then will proceed to Rei towards Kamiza, you will Rei too. Sensei will then turn towards you and bows. You bow to Sensei at the same time saying “Onegaishamas”. Follow Sensei’s lead in the warm up exercise.

During Class

Sensei will call a student or students as Uke to demonstrate to the class. If you are called, bow to Sensei and move quickly, if not observe all that is going on. Give Sensei your full attention and energy as Uke. Take proper Ukemi and when thrown get up quickly from the mat and begin again. When Sensei finishes perform a kneeling bow to each other. Sensei will bow to class and invite all to practise. Class will bow to Sensei then find a space on the mat and begin. Perform a standing bow to your partner when you begin training together and when you finish training together. If you are unsure of the technique go to Sensei, bow and ask for his help. DO NOT CALL SENSEI TO YOU! If the Sensei should teach you and your partner individually, it is proper to perform a bow afterwards. While the Sensei is working with your partner, kneel on the tatami watching what is been taught. Be ready if called. Make sure your Gi remains properly tied during practice and that you stay adequately covered. Should your Gi need attention bow to your partner, go to the edge of the mat, NOT AT THE KAMIZA, fix your Gi return and bow to partner before resuming practise. Do not talk un-necessarily or disrupt the class in any way. When Sensei says Yamae stop, bow to your partner/s and return quickly to seiza facing the Kamiza.


When beginning the class place weapons at the side of the mat ensuring the blade edge and tip of your bokken (wooden sword) are pointing away from the Kamiza. When collecting a weapon during class you should turn with your weapon in front of you towards the Kamiza and Rei, do this also when returning your weapon to the side.

Leaving the mat

Should you need to leave the mat for any reason ask Senei’s permission. Bow to the Kamiza before you step off the mat. When returning to the mat perform a standing bow then kneeling. Wait in seiza until Sensei calls you back onto the mat. Return to your training partner, bow and resume practise.

Arriving late to Class – leaving early

Wait before entering or leaving the dojo until the instructor is not demonstrating. Wait at the side of the tatami for Sensei’s permission to get on the mat (if you are coming late to class). Wait at the side of the tatami to ask Sensei’s permission to leave the class. Perform the proper kneeling bow whether you are getting on or leaving the mat.

Finishing Class

When indicated by Sensei, line up in seiza, in a straight line facing the Kamiza. Perform the Rei as you did at the beginning of the class, only this time saying “Domo Arigato Gozaimashita” (Thank-you very much) once you are standing it is polite to thank your partners by performing a standing Rei to them. Perform a kneeling Rei to the Kamiza before leaving the mat.

Leaving the Dojo

Once all the mats have been returned, everybody helps to do this with the only exceptions being female and young students.

Always perform a standing Rei before leaving the dojo.


Wear Zori (sandals) to and from the tatami. Make sure that your Gi is always clean and kept in a good state of repair. Make sure that toenails and fingernails are clean and short and that long hair is tied back. Keep a high standard of personal hygiene. Do not wear jewellery when practising.


During class be aware of your safety and that of your fellow students at all times. Do not practise in a way that harms another student. If you are a beginner practise safely. Ukemi takes a long time to learn. Go at your pace and at a level, which is safe for you. If you need to leave the mat due to injury or illness inform the Sensei.

If you are feeling unwell or suffering from illness do not come to class. Inform Ken or Mike that you will not be attending.