Dojo Etiquette


Karate always begins and ends with a bow as demonstrated by Tanya Hendricks, 5th Dan

Photo Credit: Chris Bandera


  1. Sempai: Senior instructors and any senior belt must be referred to as sempai.
  2. Senior Belts: All senior belts must set an example for the junior belts. Help them to learn and adhere to such standards and principles as: sincerity, effort, etiquette and self control. You must lead junior belts by example.
  3. Conduct within Dojo:

·         Training: Everyone must train both the body and mind. Always participate with complete concentration, determination, spirit, and sincerity. Never fidget, yawn or look disinterested.

·         Entering and Exiting the Dojo: When entering and exiting Dojo area one must always bow inwards.

·         Waiting off to the Side during Class: If you are waiting off to the side, do not talk among yourselves or lean against the wall. Listen to what is being taught. When sitting, drop to a kneeling position for a few seconds first; then relax and cross your legs. Again, always pay complete attention to the instructor and his/her teachings. If you are standing off to the side and are called upon; quickly acknowledge yourself, bow and move to a ready position with purpose and confidence. Never wander aimlessly about.

·         Conduct with Partner: Everyone must treat his/her partner courteously and with proper etiquette. Always challenge your partner to a degree that is beneficial to his/her learning. Never patronize your partner but always remember your control.

·         Questioning: Do not question Sensei/sempai during class unless asked. Save any questions for after class and discuss them with a senior belt. When approaching a senior belt, sempai, or Sensei; bow and address him/her appropriately. When finished bow and thank them for their time.

·         Talking: When waiting for class to begin, talking must be quiet and kept to a minimum. When a class is saying the Dojo Kun there is to be no talking. Once in class and training, there is to be no talking unless called upon by the Sensei/sempai.

  1. Bowing: When bowing, bring your heels together and point your toes in a 45 degree “V” position. Place the palms of your hands at the side of your thighs. Bow to approximately 20 degrees, while keeping your back straight. As you bow, your eyes must follow your bow. Never stare into your partners’ eyes as you bow. This shows disrespect and distrust.
  2. Line up: When lining up, each person is to stand shoulder to shoulder with the person to their right. The line is to be as straight as possible. After kneeling, sit with a straight back, do not slouch or show fatigue, remain perfectly still. Everyone kneels and the senior belt rises first. Order of rank is: adults (aged 16+) first by rank followed by juniors (aged under 16) by rank.
  3. Late coming procedure: Since promptness is part of the self-discipline Karate encourages, arriving late for class should be avoided whenever possible. In the event that you are late, you must kneel at the entrance of the dojo floor and bow to the front of the dojo. This demonstrates respect and signals to the instructor that you wish to enter. Wait until the instructor motions you in before entering. When you enter you must walk behind the class and regardless of your belt level, position yourself at the far end so as not to disturb the rest of the class.
  4. Mouth Piece and white fistgear: Everyone must have a mouth piece and white fistgear to participate in Dojo Jiyu Kumite (free-sparring) or in a tournament Jiyu Kumite match. This is your responsibility.

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