Looking after your belt

Be mindful of your belt and treat it austerely. Remember a belt is part of your uniform. One’s belt should never be draped around the neck or cast unthinkingly aside. It is either tied correctly around your waist or placed neatly in your training bag.

Bowing (Rei)

The regular Bowing in a traditional Karate class is seen as a form of austere acknowledgement. It is a practice that almost all traditional Japanese martial arts follow.
Times when you bow include:

  • Entering/leaving the dójó – silent bow
3 bows at the beginning/end of each class
  1. Shómen ni rei – silent bow to the front
  2. Sensei ni rei – bow to teacher(s) accompanied with the word ‘Oss’
  3. Otagai ni rei – bow to everyone accompanied with the word ‘Oss’
  • At the beginning/end of each kata – silent bow
  • Before Yoi (Ready) and after Yame (Stop) commands – silent bow
  • When beginning/ending a partner exercise or kumite bout accompanied with the word ‘Oss’
  • When addressed by a Sensei or Sempai accompanied with the word ‘Oss’
  • Kneeling bow if late for a class accompanied with the word ‘Oss’

Late arrival for a class

If you arrive late for a class the following procedure should be followed:

  • Take a position at the Dójó entrance and kneel in the Seiza position
  • Be sure that it is possible for the instructor to be aware of your presence
  • When the instructor acknowledges your presences usually by way of a quick bow and or the word Oss, you return the bow from the Seiza position and quickly join the class
  • This is a good opportunity to practice posture, etiquette and readiness.

Expressing Undue Emotion

If you are feeling discomfort from the arduousness of training then it is considered impolite to express this openly. There will be opportunities to catch your breath during class time but this does not mean you can drop your guard or demonstrate bad posture. Remain still and breathe deeply while still maintaining class format. It is important in the beginning to remember to train within your limits.

The one emotion which will not be tolerated is aggression; this must be controlled at all times in the dójó.

Cleanliness and maintenance of Dogi (Uniform)

Hands and feet must be clean and nails trimmed neatly. It is also considered bad manners to train in an unclean Dogi.

  • It is a simple matter of being aware that if your Dogi smells then there is a good chance that this will increase the discomfort of other students who are forced to train near you. Remember to air your Dogi after training.
  • Through the course of your training it is common for a Dogi to become torn and/or discoloured; it is considered important that a Dogi is maintained correctly like any other uniform.
  • All Dogi should be white with only one badge worn which is the association badge and positioned at the left side of the chest. Ladies are permitted to wear a white t-shirt under their Dogi but men are not.

Wearing Jewellery

Karate training is a very austere and respectful art form A major element in its practice is the homogeneous nature of everyone taking part. Karate is seen as a means of spiritual improvement and it can therefore stand to reason that items of Jewellery and even cosmetics are seen as a distraction from the spiritual goal of Karate. Wearing Jewellery can also be seen as discriminatory, by leading to sense of segregation between rich and poor and it is for a similar reason why uniforms are worn at some schools and companies. Jewellery can also cause an injury to the wearer or other students so it must be removed or taped securely if removal is not an option.

Sóji (Cleaning the Dójó)

It is general practice in the Dójó to clean the floor at the beginning and/or end of each training session. Often this is looked towards as an unfavourable chore however the underlying sentiment is that when you use something it should be maintained so that whoever uses the facility after you can experience the same sense of comfort as you experienced.

Excessive Contact (Kumite Training)

This is perhaps one of the hardest protocols of all to follow. When practicing Kumite a boundary of limitation” must be adhered to. What this means is that when striking your opponent, the right amount of force and contact must be applied. If your techniques are too soft neither you nor your opponent get the benefits of training. If you are too hard then the same can also be said to be true. It is all too easy to hit too hard and cause injury. Apply as much force as your opponent can comfortably handle. A common sense rule applies here when squaring off against different opponents of different sizes and strengths.

Bowing To Seniors

It is courteous for all junior grades (kohai) on entering the Dójó prior to training to bow to senior grade (Sempai) 1st Dan Black belts and higher. Japanese Karate operates in a similar manner to the military does with saluting. Kohai should bow to Sempai as a sign of respect.