Yoshinkai ACT

Dojo Etiquette

Dojo Etiquette

Aikido Yoshinkai ACT (AYACT) is a traditional Japanese martial arts dojo (training hall) and we adhere to traditional etiquette. If in doubt about the corrrect etiquette, please ask the instructor or one of the senior members of the Dojo.

Your adherence to traditional etiquette reflects on you, your Sensei/instructor and your Dojo whether you are in or out of your Dojo or visiting another dojo.

If you are visiting AYACT from another dojo and you wish to train with us, it is traditional and good dojo etiquette to present an introduction from your sensei on arrival to AYACT. If you do not have an introduction, you may not be able to train with us.

When you come to the Dojo leave your problems at the door. Try to come with a free and clear mind. Aikido is a time to concentrate on something different to your regular life.

This section contains information about:

  1. Etiquette in the Dojo
  2. Link to: The relationship between Shite and Uke. (Shite does the technique while Uke receives the technique.)
  3. Link to: Grading etiquette.


1. Etiquette in the Dojo

Arriving at the Dojo:

  • Turn off your mobile/cell phone or change it to silent mode.
  • Please be at the Dojo at least 15 minutes before class to allow time for warm-ups/stretching. The Dojo is usually opened about 30 minutes before the first scheduled class.
  • Bow to the instructor (Sensei) and “Osu!” strongly upon entering the Dojo. If no one is at the reception area of the Dojo you should still “Osu!” to let your presence be known.
  • Take off shoes and outerwear (jacket, hat, sunglasses, etc.) and put shoes away neatly in shoe rack/box.
  • Upon entering the main mat area, bow once to the shomen (front) before going to change room.
  • When stepping onto the mat after changing, sit in seiza (kneel) and bow to the shomen.

When on the mat:

  • Do not lie down/lounge around/sleep on the tatami (mat).
  • It is considered extremely bad etiquette at any time to sit sloppily in the Dojo or with your feet pointing at shomen.
  • We do warm-ups before class, however, stretching on your own before warm-ups is encouraged.
  • The Sensei or a senior member calls “Seirestu!” (Line up!) about 5 minutes before the class starts and everyone lines up to face shomen, heels together and toes on the line, with the most senior members on the right side of the line.
  • The most senior member (on far right of the line) or Sensei calls “Seiza!” and all members sit down in seiza together.
  • The few minutes of seiza before class is a quiet time for members to clear their minds in preparation for keiko (training). Please do not talk during this quiet time.
  • When Sensei sits in seiza facing the shomen, the person on the far right calls “Shomen ni rei!” (Bow to the front!) and everyone bows.
  • When Sensei turns to face the members, the person on the far right calls “Sensei ni rei!” (Bow to the teacher!) and everyone bows.
  • Sensei then says “Osu!” to greet the members and members reply with “Osu!” in unison.
  • Sensei then calls “Kiritsu!” (Stand up!) to start the class.

During class:

  • Always rei (bow) to your partner at the START of your training before going into kamae (basic stance). Rei is a sign of respect and showing thanks to your partner for training – we do not bow for religious reasons.
  • Always rei to your partner at the END of your training when coming out of kamae.
  • Follow Sensei’s directions and move quickly to positions when instructed.
  • Never walk between partners facing each other as this is bad etiquette.
  • Whenever Sensei is showing a technique or explaining something, members should sit in seiza.
  • Members should “Osu!” whenever Sensei explains a point or corrects their mistakes.
  • Do not interrupt Sensei when he/she is instructing. When Sensei is teaching it is time to listen and absorb, not add one’s own viewpoint to the technique. You may ask questions but only to clarify a point made by Sensei AND when there is an appropriate break/pause during instructions.
  • Class is for training, not discussion time. Please keep talking to a minimum.
  • Do NOT try to teach your training partner, especially if they are a senior rank to you – trying to teach someone senior to you is extremely bad etiquette. Everyone is at a different level but they have all worked hard to attain their rank and that deserves respect. Members are at the dojo to train and learn, not to teach. There is only 1 sensei on the mat
  • The instructor should be addressed as “Sensei” or “(name) Sensei”.

Finishing class:

  • When lining up at the end of class, the person on the far right calls “Seiza!” and everyone sits down in unison.
  • That person then calls “Shomen ni rei!” (Bow to the front!) and everyone bows.
  • When Sensei turns to face the members, the caller then says “Sensei ni rei!” (Bow to the teacher!) and everyone bows.
  • Sensei then says “Osu!” and members reply with “Osu!” in unison.
  • Members remain in seiza. After Sensei has moved off the mat, members still in seiza then bow to each other as a sign of respect and showing thanks to your partner(s) for training.
  • Members sweep the mat clean as a sign of respect to the Dojo.
  • Members bow in seiza to the shomen before getting off the mat to go to the change room.

On leaving the Dojo:

  • Before stepping off the tatami on to the reception area, turn and bow to the shomen.
  • At the exit/door to leave the Dojo (in the reception area), turn and bow to Sensei and “Osu!” strongly. If no one is at reception you should still “Osu!” to announce your departure.

About “Sensei”:

  • Japanese words sometimes have many different meanings – Japanese is contextual like many oriental languages. In Japanese martial arts, “Sensei” refers to instructor/teacher.
  • However its literal meaning is “one who has gone before (you)” and refers to someone who is skilled in his/her Art. So in Japan, these people may be all referred to as “Sensei”: school teacher, doctor, lawyer, a master sword maker, teacher of calligraphy or tea ceremony, a master tradesperson, or a member of Parliament, for example.

2.  Relationship Between Shite and Uke

3.  Grading Etiquette – For Students Grading