Although new students may at first feel clumsy or awkward, they will quickly learn the basic movements, and safe ways of falling. Everyone works together to promote co-operation in a safe and comfortable environment. New students are not required to buy their gi (uniform, also fondly called pajamas) right away. For the first few weeks, they may wear loose, comfortable clothing that has some stretch.
Your first classes:
What you should bring:
- Clean, loose, comfortable clothing, or a plain white uniform
- Remove jewelry, and any sharp objects prior to training
- A towel, and water bottle are recommended
- Make sure you have good personal hygiene
When you arrive:
- Please sign in
- Introduce yourself to the instructor prior to participating in class
Your first week is FREE, Thereafter, if you decide to join, please bring the appropriate fees
In the dojo, cleanliness is more important than worldliness; quiet is more important than noise. The dojo is a place where people are able to cast aside the mental entanglements of the world and for a few hours, train their bodies, minds and spirits. In the dojo, training takes precedence over worrying; consideration takes precedence over rudeness.
The cardinal rule of etiquette in the dojo is simple: Consider others before you consider yourself. To do so, it is first necessary to understand that small things have a great effect. For example:
- Always consider personal hygiene and the state of your uniform before entering the dojo.
- When entering or leaving the dojo, face the front of the practice area and bow. We use the bow as an opportunity to remind ourselves to be grateful for this place to train.
- We take off our hats and shoes, dispose of cigarettes, food, drinks, chewing gum, and stop any other distracting practices that might interfere with our training or other’s training. Grateful for the opportunity to study Aikido, we want to focus all our attention and energy on that one task. Visitors are also expected to observe these guidelines for conduct.
- At the dojo, we take off our street clothes and put on a training uniform ( a white “dogi” , if possible). This helps us shed our outside concerns and focus our attention on our current task: Aikido training.
- Complete uniforms are preferred. Our study is a formal one, and the completeness of our dress reflects the attention we give to our study. A complete uniform also affords greater protection for the body.
- When we greet a fellow student or an instructor, we greet them with a traditional bow. This is customary in the practice of Japanese Budo. Bowing is also a sign of humility and reminds us that we are unendingly involved in a relationship with the people around us.
- When coming into or leaving the practice mat, we bow again to the front of the dojo. This expresses our intent to concentrate fully on our Aikido training, and acts as recognition of all the individuals, past and present, who have contributed to Aikido.
- All students should follow the daily clean up routine of vacuuming and sweeping all floors before class.
- Anyone not a member of the dojo should be greeted and asked if they have any immediate questions, offered a brochure, and asked to watch a class if they are interested.
- All jewellery and watches should be removed before practice. Make sure all finger and toe nails are trimmed short so as not to cause injury to others.
- Upon entering the dojo, when you see the instructor, greet him or her by bowing and saying “Osu!”.
- When class is ready to begin, and before the instructor sits, the students line up sitting in seiza in a straight line. The person to your right should be of equal or higher rank; the person to your left, equal or lower rank.
- The highest ranking non-black belt student will command “Shomen ni rei”. This means, “Bow to the front” and is a sign of respect to the Founder and the traditions of Aikido. The student will then say, “Sensei ni rei”, which means, “Bow to the Instructor”. In the case of Sensei not being there, the senior student would say, “Otagai ni rei”, which means, “Bow to each other”.
- If you come to class late, change into your dogi, and when you enter the mat, do 25 pushups before you join the class. This acts as a warm up and a reminder to be on time.
- When a technique is about to be taught, the students kneel quickly. When corrected by the Instructor, they bow to him or her and say either, “Osu or Thank You”.
- Always begin and end your training by bowing to your partner.
- Never shout, curse or become angry on the mat. If there is a disagreement, ask the Instructor to settle the issue.
- Notify the Instructor immediately of any accident or injury. Due to health concerns, any fluids should be immediately and thoroughly cleaned off the mats and dogi.
- When the class is ending, the students quickly line up (in descending order of rank) and kneel, before the Instructor sits.
- At the end of class, students remain kneeling until the Instructor has left the mats.
- Students should wait to be dismissed, then find their partner and bow to them, thanking the partner for training with them.
- Ours is a serious study, so no kicking, wrestling or play is allowed in the dojo. When sitting, sit in seiza or anza (cross-legged) only. Do not lie around on the mat.
- Other important aspects of etiquette deal with more commonplace concerns. Please remember to pay your dues on time. In our enjoyment of Aikido training, we may forget about our responsibilities to Aikido, and to our Instructors. When training as a visitor in another dojo, please check the visitation policies and remember that your behaviour reflects your home dojo.
In short, our practice of correct etiquette may be thought of as courtesy or kindness, and an extension of our Aikido training that is not to be overlooked.
Finally, when in doubt, ASK!