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Dojo Etiquette

Dojo etiquette are rules of behaviour and codes of conduct that you are required to respect and uphold for your own safety and benefit as well as for others. Many of the rules are also directly related to traditional Japanese customs design to prevent conflict and minimise the risk of attacks or other threats in a very practical way. They are therefore an important part of your self-defence training and ignorance is no defence under the law!

Pre-training Preparations

  • Before commencing full training the student should familiarize themselves with the dojo etiquette and basic terminology.
  • Before commencing their first training session, new students should complete a membership application form. The student must  inform the instructor of any health issues and  potential medical problems.
  • Club membership (Joining) fees must be fully paid up in advance of the commencement of training.
  • Ensure you bring with you any equipment or clothing that might be needed for training purposes. We do not currently have storage space at the school, so there is no club equipment available for general use, other than what you bring with you.
  • Everyone should help layout the mats, equipment or otherwise prepare the dojo for the training session. I.e. Mats, training equipment, safety and hygiene aspects. If you notice a safety issue that cannot be readily cleared, report it to the instructor for further consideration and/or action.

Hygiene & Safety

  • Shoes or socks should never be worn on the mat in the dojo.
  • During the warm-ups we often practice Parkour skills, for which indoor gym shoes may be worn. During the main skills training on the mat, we practice in bare feet or with black gym shoes (jumpa tossut) that have soft rubber soles for better grip and safety for our training partners.  The gym slips are also often useful on the hard wooden floor when practicing exercises suited to that area, such as kickboxercise.
  • Hair, hands and feet must be kept clean. It is extremely unpleasant to train with a dirty and smelly partner. It is also a health risk and displays a considerable lack of self-discipline, respect and consideration for other club members and training partners. Dirty vagabonds will be expelled from the mat until they have properly cleaned themselves up.
  • Finger and toe nails should be kept clean, cut short and filed for obvious safety reasons. Otherwise tape is sometimes used to mitigate the injury risks.
  • All jewellry should be removed prior to training for everyone's safety. Ideally, and for your own property security, they should be left at home in the first place.

Mat Conventions

  • Always bow on entering or leaving the dojo. Note that a traditional bow is performed from the waist. Because some people have issues about bowing to anyone other than God, the Monks prayer hands salutation is commonly used.
  • Before walking onto the mat always bow or perform the monk's salutation.
  • Always wait for the acknowledgement of the senior grade on the mat and then bow in return before walking on.
  • If you must leave the dojo for any reason during the course of a training session, let the senior grade know and get his permission first. The highest grade on the mat is responsible for all activities there and each students safety.
  • You should always bow to your training partner before commencing and immediately after training with them. It is a sign of respect and intentions.
  • During a presentation or grading the training pair should first bow to the senior grade/instructor or examiner and then to each other. Afterwards they should bow first to each other and then to the examiner.
  • When an instructor is teaching (talking), you should keep quiet and listen. Stand in the 'Listening Stance' to help you pay attention and show respect for you instructor (assuming you still want/need their help thereafter ;-). This way you can avoid potential accidents and injury and, you might actually learn something.
  • When standing in a queue awaiting your turn, pay attention to what is happening around you and especially in the main training area. Stand in the 'Ready Stance' to help you focus and pay attention. It has been known for unattentive students to miss their turn or, even get hit by flying bottles and other objects that a defender (Tori) has disarmed from an attacker (Uke). Awareness, concentration and focus are some of the cornerstones of all self-defense training and practice. You neglect them at your peril.
  • If someone gets injured, do NOT all crowd around gawping! This sucks out all their much needed oxygen and often in itself scares them half-to-death causing panic etc. The training partner remains to inform the instructor of what happened. A third partner may clear the area to make it safe and guard it. All others should move away and continue with their training. Whilst the instructor or other first aider attends the fallen party, the other partners or competitos should then sit around the established perimeter facing outwards (way from the injured person), until told otherwise.

General Behaviour & Self-control

  • Shouting, singing, eating, drinking and smoking are forbidden in the Dojo area. Such unruly behaviour is both disrespectful and disturbing to others genuinely trying to practice the martial arts etc. The Japanese used to regard and treat the Dojo as a quasi-shrine, closely connected with their indiginous Shinto religion. Unethical or unruly behaviour in a dojo or elsewhere could often lead to dire if not fatal consequences. To behave badly in a dojo and the presence of a teacher with the skills to cut your head off in an instance would have been extremely foolhardy. Today, we are a little more temperate, but, negative consequences they will still always be.
  • Outbursts of anger or other temperamental displays, including contempt and disrespect for others,  are wholy unacceptable and display an immature lack of control that cannot be tolerarted for the welbeing of the club and the safety of all concerned. Isolated outbursts will incur proportional consequences such as disqualification from a grading. Behavioural trends/patterns of this nature will lead to expulsion from the club.


  • After the final team-shout, everyone must help with putting away the mats and other equipment and ensure they are properly and neatly stored for next time.
  • Help clean the mats and the hall in general ready for the next users.
  • Leave in a quiet and orderly fashion so as to minimise disturbance to any groups practicing in the hall after ours. We can always chat and play about outside in the school yard if we feel the need ;-)

Other more situation specific codes of conduct will be taught to students during training as needed.

Failure to comply with these requirements may result in corrective measures or in the worst cases forfeiture of membership without refund of any training fees or membership subscrfiptions paid.


Remeber, Excuses are the corner stone of failure!

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This site was last updated 03/08/18