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.

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.