Courtesy In The Dojo

Courtesy in the Dojo is an important part of Aikido. It is important because it creates a harmonious atmosphere and because it is an excellent means of self-discipline.

Courtesy in the Dojo, as anywhere else, basically means thinking of the other person before you think of yourself. There are a few signs of good manners which are particular to a Dojo alone. They are very simple, but you should check yourself to make sure you don't forget.

  • Kneel and bow to the Shihandai*, Kamiza* or "Shomen"* when entering or leaving the Dojo. THis shows your respect and appreciation of Aikido.
  • Bow to the Sensei (teacher) before and after practice, and whenever he instructs you personally. Thank him for his kindness.
  • Kneel and sit in Seiza when Sensei is demonstrating to the class. This is difficult over long periods of time. If you concentrate on Sensei rather than on your cramped muscles, you will not be aware of any pain. Remember that the Sensei has had to do the same in his time.
  • Show respect to your partner by thanking him/her for practicing with you. Remember at all times that you are practicing together for mutual self-improvement. Regardless of rank, all students should be able to learn something from each other.
  • At the start of class, everyone bows with Sensei toward the Shihandai and then toward Sensei. This is repeated at the end of a class session.
*Shihan-dai . . . a designated place where O-Sensei would sit to instruct Aikido to his disciples. Martial Art instructors actually used to teach from there. Now it exists only as a symbol of respect from the ancient times.

*Kamiza . . . place where picture of O-Sensei is displayed

*Shomen . . . the "head" or front of the Dojo

*Seiza . . . formal sitting position

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