Traditional etiquette in an Aikido dojo demonstrates the respect students have for this art, for O Sensei, and for each other. Such respect sharpens and energizes the practice of Aikido. Thus, proper etiquette is an expression of the spirit of one’s training and cannot be simplistically reduced to rules or formulae. However, here are some basic etiquette guidelines a student should keep in mind.
Entering the Dojo
When entering the dojo remove your shoes and place them neatly on the shelves beside the door. Make sure your feet are clean before entering.
Perform a kneeling bow toward the kamiza when entering the mat for the first time and when leaving the mat at the end of class.
A few minutes prior to class students should quietly line up in front of the kamiza. If you arrive on the mat at this time, do not disturb the other students.
The proper way to sit on the mat is in seiza. If injury prevents this, then you may sit cross-legged. Never sit with legs outstretched or point your feet toward the kamiza.
After the instructor demonstrates a technique do a kneeling bow toward him; then do a kneeling bow to a class member and say “onegaishimasu,” to begin practice.
Find a training partner quickly and enthusiastically. Junior students should seek out advanced students for partners.
When the end of a technique is signaled, stop practice immediately, thank your partner, bow to your partner, and quickly line up with the other students.
When the instructor gives you personal instruction during the class, sit in seiza at the edge of the mat, give your attention, and do a kneeling bow when instruction is finished.
Make every reasonable effort to arrive to practice on time. If you are unavoidably late, however, after bowing toward the kamiza wait in seiza at the edge of the mat for the instructor to give you permission to join the class. When he does, bow to the instructor and begin practice.
Talking should be kept to a minimum.
No jewelry should be worn during practice.
Wash your gi regularly; mend any holes or tears.
Maintain personal cleanliness.
Because the instructor is responsible for the well-being of everyone on the mat, you should get his acknowledgement if you need to leave the mat during class for any reason.
If you have experience with a particular technique and you are training with someone who does not, you may lead your partner through the technique, but do not assume the role of instructor. Resist or stop a technique only if it is about to lead to injury.
Be aware of your partner’s level of practice and physical capabilities so as to prevent injuries and ensure everyone’s enjoyment of the practice.
Students should display a general attitude of humility: Do not show off or be competitive; Do not force your ideas on others; Acknowledge and respect those who are more experienced than you; Do not be resentful if you are corrected on a technique or a point of etiquette.
A clean and well-maintained dojo reflects the spirit of the place and the training that happens within it. Thus, everyone is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the dojo. If you see something that needs to be done, do it yourself.
Regular tasks to be done at the end of every class include: dusting the corners of the practice area for cobwebs; dust mopping the mat; and cleaning the mirror.