Dojo Etiquette

The obser­vance of dojo eti­quette is very impor­tant to many aspects of our train­ing. It’s impor­tant to main­tain an atmos­phere that’s con­ducive to learn­ing an art that is based on so much tra­di­tion, and skills that, improp­er­ly used, can cause great harm to our­selves and to our dojo mates that we depend on to help us with the con­tin­u­ing improve­ment of our own skills. The fol­low­ing is a list of some of the rules that we should observe as stu­dents of DDKS and the mar­tial arts.

Dojo Etiquette

Arriving For Class

  • Come to class pre­pared. Have your gi (uni­form), obi (belt), all pads (includ­ing the mouth­piece), and your bo.
  • You should nev­er wear your belt out­side of the dojo (school) or a dojo event. Put it on once you arrive inside the dojo, and take it off before you leave.
  • The belt should nev­er be washed.
  • The gi should be clean and neat, with all strings tied and tucked away, out of sight.
  • You should arrive for class in plen­ty of time to get dressed, find your card, and be ready to enter the floor when called to do so.
  • Pads and bos should be brought out to the floor, or near the floor before class begins.
  • If you are late, you should get ready as fast as pos­si­ble. Once dressed, with card in hand, you should move to the edge of the floor, wait­ing in the atten­tion stance until you are invit­ed to bow onto the floor and join the class.

Bowing in the Dojo

  • Always bow onto the floor, fac­ing the flag. Then, if there is a black belt on the floor, turn toward the black belt and bow. If there is more than one black belt, bow toward the senior black belt. If you don’t know the senior­i­ty of the black belts, do a gen­er­al bow to cov­er the sit­u­a­tion.
  • When leav­ing the floor if there is a black belt on the floor, turn toward the black belt and bow. If there is more than one black belt, bow toward the senior black belt. If you don’t know the senior­i­ty of the black belts, do a gen­er­al bow to cov­er the sit­u­a­tion. Then bow off of the floor, fac­ing the flag.
  • If a black belt is bow­ing onto or off of the floor, junior ranks should wait before bow­ing onto or off of the floor.
  • If on the floor and not present­ly in class, you should bow to a black belt as they bow onto or off of the floor (not as they bow to a senior rank).
  • If in class, you should bow to the instruc­tor as they bow onto or off of the floor (not as they bow to a senior rank).
  • If you are part of a group that should be bow­ing to an enter­ing or exit­ing senior or instruc­tor, and no one has called atten­tion (or kiot­su­ki) you should call it loud enough to get the entire group’s atten­tion.
  • The most senior stu­dent below the rank of the black belt being bowed to is respon­si­ble for call­ing the bow itself.
  • A group of black belts of the same rank can all bow togeth­er.
  • Punch­ing, pok­ing or any oth­er type of con­tact with a black belt, in a non-spar­ring con­text, is inap­pro­pri­ate.
  • Remarks, of a chal­leng­ing or goad­ing nature, toward a black belt is inap­pro­pri­ate.
  • Our black belts have reached a lev­el and earned the right to be treat­ed with the utmost respect and dig­ni­ty, and we expect such to be shown. A black belt regard­less of age or per­son­al rela­tion should always be addressed by their last name with­in the con­fines of the dojo.
  • All seniors should be shown the same respect as a black belt. A senior is a senior, whether it is a white belt to a 10th degree black belt, a 2nd degree black belt to a more senior 2nd degree black belt, or a white belt to a more senior white belt. No mat­ter what the dif­fer­ence in rank, a senior has some degree of knowl­edge or expe­ri­ence from which a junior can ben­e­fit.
  • If in class and get­ting your bo, from the bo rack, the floor is under­stood to extend to the bo rack, there­fore there is no need to bow off the floor.

On The Floor

  • Have fun in class, but work with a seri­ous atti­tude.
  • Move fast. It doesn’t mat­ter if you are mov­ing from one line to anoth­er, from a stand­ing posi­tion to lay­ing on the floor, or vice-ver­sa, you want to get there as fast as pos­si­ble.
  • Work hard, push your­self, but don’t hurt your­self.
  • Don’t cheat your­self. What­ev­er you are doing, do it to the best of your abil­i­ty.
  • When prac­tic­ing kata, always bow at the begin­ning and at the end of the kata. While you con­tin­ue prac­tic­ing a giv­en kata, or stay with­in the Pinan fam­i­ly, you can bow at the open­ing the first time, and at the clos­ing the last time, you don’t have to bow on every rep­e­ti­tion.
  • When prac­tic­ing the kata, unless on your own, hold the last move until told to recov­er.
  • In any­thing you do in class, you should assume a con­tin­u­ance until spec­i­fied oth­er­wise. For exam­ple, if you are doing front kicks to the front line, and you end in a left front stance and are then told to run to the back line, as you arrive on the back line you should assume a left front stance since you were nev­er told to recov­er.
  • You should nev­er leave the floor with­out ask­ing per­mis­sion first.
  • You should nev­er walk between the instruc­tor and those he is work­ing with.
  • When in line, you are always lined up accord­ing to your rank. There is rank belt to belt, and there is rank with­in a belt. Your rank is deter­mined when you start your first class. Once you line up your rank has been deter­mined, the peo­ple on your right will always be on your right, and the peo­ple on your left will always be on your left. The only time the order would change is if you were pro­mot­ed to a rank before a senior. From that point on you would line up to the right of that per­son until a time when they were pro­mot­ed to a rank before you.
  • When spread out on the floor, you spread the same way you line up. The senior most stu­dent should be at the right front of the floor, fol­lowed by less senior stu­dents at the cen­ter front, less senior still at the left front, mid ranks then to the right cen­ter, and so on, with the junior most stu­dents at the left rear. If a senior stu­dent wants to use anoth­er spot that is their pre­rog­a­tive.
  • When the seniors are help­ing low­er ranks, you spread accord­ing to the seniors rank (i.e. the senior black belt, work­ing with a white belt, would have the right front spot, while the brown belt, work­ing with the orange belt, would have the left rear spot).


  • Always raise your hand and wait to be called on if you have a ques­tion. Nev­er speak out unless the instruc­tor makes it clear that you should.
  • A ques­tion should be a real ques­tion in your mind, don’t ask a ques­tion that you know the answer to. If you have some­thing to say to the class, it should be said by you, after you have been dis­missed.
  • You should nev­er cor­rect a senior under any cir­cum­stance. If you have a ques­tion con­cern­ing what you have under­stood pre­vi­ous­ly, it should be asked after class.
  • If you are in a less for­mal class, work­ing on your own, and you have a ques­tion, you should not go straight to the instruc­tor or high­est ranks, but to some­one that is senior to you. If that per­son doesn’t know the answer, they should fol­low the same pro­ce­dure (nev­er say “I don’t know” and for­get about it). The answer should fol­low back down the line to the orig­i­na­tor of the ques­tion.
  • When approach­ing a black belt with a ques­tion or con­cern, you should approach from 45 degrees off of their front side and wait to be addressed. Once addressed you should bow then pose your ques­tion. Upon com­ple­tion you should bow and back away.
  • You should nev­er per­form or demon­strate a tech­nique on a senior unless instruct­ed to do so.


  • Always bow to your part­ner at the begin­ning, and at the end of your spar­ring ses­sion.
  • A senior should always spar to the lev­el of their part­ner.
  • It is the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the junior stu­dent to attack. The senior may attack if they wish, but the junior has the oblig­a­tion to keep the action going.
  • The rules of con­tact are to be observed. (This means even if your part­ner says they enjoy a lit­tle heav­ier con­tact.) The use of focus and touch con­tact, although also for the safe­ty of your part­ner, are designed to cre­ate dynam­ic results to a tar­get. If you throw a prop­er tech­nique, you can’t afford to go beyond touch con­tact.
  • Tem­per and atti­tude are not per­mit­ted in the dojo.
  • Tech­niques that land too hard, or off tar­get, are under­stood to be acci­den­tal. Acci­dents hap­pen occa­sion­al­ly, fre­quent mishaps of con­trol, or aim, are not acci­dents, but care­less­ness.
  • If a junior stu­dent believes they are the vic­tim of exces­sive care­less­ness or dis­re­gard, they should back away and bow out to the senior then bring it to the instruc­tors atten­tion.
  • If a senior stu­dent believes the junior is exer­cis­ing care­less­ness, they should stop and inform the junior of such. If it con­tin­ues, they should stop once again and call this to the junior’s atten­tion. If it con­tin­ues after that, the senior should stop the match and bring this mat­ter to the atten­tion of the instruc­tor.
  • When a legal­ly rec­og­nized tech­nique lands to a legal tar­get (“score a point”), the per­son on the receiv­ing end of the tech­nique, should end all attempts at scor­ing and con­cen­trate on get­ting dis­tance between their part­ner and them­selves, while con­tin­u­ing to block and cov­er (the per­son that scores has the right to throw a cou­ple of more tech­niques). The per­son that has been scored on should then extend a hand, to be touched by the part­ner, acknowl­edg­ing the point, and sig­nal­ing a new start. This action, and acknowl­edg­ment, should always be ini­ti­at­ed by the per­son that is scored on, not by the scor­er. After the touch of the gloves, both part­ners should back away slight­ly and begin anew.
  • Debate over the valid­i­ty of a point is unnec­es­sary and inap­pro­pri­ate.
  • As a junior, if there is a ques­tion, in your mind, as to the valid­i­ty of a point against you, give it to the senior.
  • As a senior, if there is a ques­tion, in your mind, as to the valid­i­ty of a point against you, give it to the junior.

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