Bushi Kempo Etiquette
The Importance of Etiquette
As a martial art, Ju-jitsu has a long tradition of respect and discipline. It takes its values and principles from Japanese society, and may seem strange to the student who is just starting out. However, it is important that all students read and learn these basic regulations, not just so they can follow the rules, but so that they can understand the ethos that plays an important role in the study of a martial art.
While we enjoy a relaxed, less formal approach to teaching, we also act with discipline and order. We ask that both students and visitors respect our guidelines. Proper observance of dojo etiquette is as much part of training as is learning techniques. From the very first time you enter the dojo, you are expected to show acceptable mat etiquette.
The study of ju-jitsu consists of more than just physical technique - learning correct etiquette is also an important part of training. Etiquette is a reflection of your respect for your instructors, you fellow students, your dojo, and yourself.
It is the responsibility of the higher grades (sempai) to see that the rules of etiquette are understood and followed by the members of the dojo. They are expected to set a good example for the lower grades to follow.
The dojo should always be a place for serious study of ju-jitsu. Enter the dojo with a clear mind. It is said that "only empty vessels can be filled." If you arrive at training with pre-conceived notions about techniques, you won't learn anything new. Approach training with an attitude of receptivity and humility.
Bowing is an ancient Japanese custom that is comparable to the Western shaking of hands. It is a sign of respect, not subservience. It is a concept intrinsic to budo (martial arts).
When we bow to our partner, it is a symbol of trust. In order to train safely, it is imperative that we trust our partners, and that they trust us. Bowing is also a sign of gratitude. It should remind us to be appreciative for the place we train, and also a sign of thanks to the instructors who teach us.
If standing; bend forward at the waist. You should retain eye contact with the person to which you are bowing.
If kneeling, place your hands flat on the floor in front of you so that your fingertips are touching or overlapping. You should place your left hand down before your right. You should retain eye contact with the person to which you are bowing.
The Opening and Closing bow
All students and instructors take their proper positions on the mat, The students face the front (joseki) and the assistant instructors face the students (shimoza). Only the head instructors (5th Dan and higher) should sit in the shomen.
The senior assistant instructor calls, "sensei ni" (to the students). He pauses for about five seconds whilst everybody turns to face the shomen, and then calls, "rei" (bow) and everyone performs a rei (bow). For the opening bow, everyone says, "onegai shimasu" (please). During the closing bow, everyone says, "doumo arigatou gozaimasu" (thank you very much sir).
The senior assistant instructor then calls out, "otagi ni". He pauses again for about five seconds, while everybody turns to face their original position. The senior assistant instructor then calls "rei" (bow) and everyone performs a rei (bow).
Occasions when to Bow
The Dogi (Uniform)
The complete gi consists of a black ju-jitsu jacket, black trousers and a belt. You should purchase and wear the required badges. You may wear a t-shirt under your gi if you wish. If you choose to, it is preferable to wear a black t-shirt. You should wear the complete gi to each and every class you attend.
Keep your gi clean, dry and not torn. Keep your body clean. Keep your fingernails and toenails cut short. Tie long hair back with a band that has no metal on it. All jewellery, watches and hard objects of any kind must be removed, except for medical bracelets.
Spectators are always welcome and chairs are provided along the side of the mat. However, please refrain from talking loudly or making noise during the class, especially when instructors are speaking. Please help our students focus on what is being taught.
We appreciate parents who want to watch their children from the sidelines, but please refrain from giving your children any instructions. At no time are you allowed to go on the mat to help teach your child. When your child is at the dojo, it is up to the instructors to teach - not you. We ask this as a safety measure and also to help your child concentrate.
Arriving Last or Leaving Early
Students should be in uniform and lined up awaiting instruction when class is scheduled to begin. If you arrive late for a class, quickly do a few warm-up exercises off the mat, and then bow in from the edge of the mat. Wait for the instructor to admit you to the class. Once you have been acknowledged you may join the class. Failure to do so will be dealt with at the instructors' discretion.
If you have to leave early, please notify the instructor beforehand. When it is time to go, thank you partner and the instructor before leaving. Remember to bow to your partner, instructor and the mat.
Leaving the Mat during Class
During the class, any student wishing to leave the mat for any reason must first ask the permission of an instructor. This is for your own safety. We need to know where our students are at all times.
Food, Drinks and Cigarettes
Please do not bring food or beverages on to the mat, although water bottles are allowed at the side of the mat. Never chew gum on the mat - it is a hazard to your health. Please extinguish cigarettes before entering the dojo. Smoking is prohibited in the entire dojo.
Correct Sitting While in a Dojo
When sitting in the dojo you should sit in seiza (kneeling down). If your legs get tired or sore, it is acceptable to sit in anza (cross legged). However, it is very rude to sit with your feet and legs stretched out in front of you, or to lie down on the mat. It is also improper to lean back with one or both hands on the mat behind you. This is taken directly from Japanese customs.
Addressing Seniors and Instructors
Students who have the grade of red belt should be addressed as sempai (senior). Instructors who have the grade of between 1st and 4th Dan should be addressed as sensei (teacher, or literally translated, "previous life"). Instructors who have the grade 5th Dan and over should be addressed as shihan (master).
In Japan, instructors are addressed by their surname followed by the title, for example, "Yamada Sensei." However in most Western dojos, the instructors are usually referred to by the title followed by their first name, for example, Sensei Ian.
While in the dojo, an instructor should never be addressed by his first name only.
If an instructor approaches to ask a question or calls you, you should walk quickly to him, bow and say, "Onegai shimasu" (please). Never shout for the instructor across the mat or beckon to call him over. If the instructor is close by, quietly raise your hand and wait to be acknowledged. It is also considered polite to bow and say "Domo arigato gozaimasu" (thank you) after receiving assistance or correction from the instructor.
When the instructor claps, please stand in yoe dachi promptly, and listen and watch attentively. Do not stand with your arms folded this is a sign of disrespect. When the instructor indicates that practice is to resume, students bow to the instructor and resume practicing.
Please do not talk when instructors are speaking. It is impolite and interferes with the concentration of other students.
It is very poor etiquette to question a teacher's authority or technical knowledge, and especially so during a class. If you are confused about something, ask politely and respect his answer.
Working Safely with a Partner
Show respect by bowing to your partner both before and after working together. Practice should be fun and safe. Remember that your partner is not an opponent. You learn through your partner and could not train without him or her. Be aware of his or her ability, and don't do a technique any harder than necessary. Ju-jitsu is not about hurting your partner.
Never shout, swear or become angry on the mat. This is inexcusable and you may be asked to leave the club.
Don't play around during class. We want you to enjoy training, but when you are not concentrating on your technique you might injure your partner.
Tapping or "The Tap"
This is not really a rule of etiquette, but a very important safety rule. If you are in pain or placed in a dangerous position, tap your partner, yourself or the mat two times so that your partner is aware that you wish him or her to stop. This means that the tap should be loud and/or distinctly felt.
If you are incapable of taping then say "tap tap".
It is the responsibility of ALL students to maintain a safe environment. When you feel uncomfortable about a technique the correct/safe thing to do is to pass. Inform the instructor whenever you feel that another student is not working safely. Notify the Sensei (the instructor) before each class if you have any mental or physical limitations that may restrict the techniques that are safe for you to receive and/or do to others.
You should always be loyal to your dojo and your instructor. If you wish to travel to or visit another dojo in your area always ask the permission of your instructor before doing so. If he or she says no, respect his or her wishes. Some of the reasons may be that the dojo you wish to visit does not teach competent techniques, or they teach techniques that are beyond your limits.
The Art stays on the Mat
Much of what we practice routinely with each other will seriously injure the uninitiated. It is not to be demonstrated or practiced on others outside of the dojo. Remember, the first rule of self-defence is to avoid situations that require self-defence. The Academy Code of Honour specifically addresses this requirement
"I promise to uphold the true spirit of martial arts and to never use my skills outside the dojo, except in self-defence"
Dojo Membership and instruction is a privilege and not a right. You may be asked to leave and your membership terminated by the Head Instructor without prior notice for reasons such as: chronic lateness, bad attitude, dangerous practice, lack of etiquette, non-payment of dues, fighting, or repeated breaking of the dojo rules.
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