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Literally translated, the word dojo means "place of the way." Depending on the context, the way can refer to any Japanese discipline, such as the gentle art of self-defence ( ju-jitsu ) or the way of the sword ( kendo ). Thus, the word dojo could refer to an exercise hall, a practice hall, or any place of learning the way.

The dojo is divided into three sections: the shomen ( kamiza ), the joseki and the shimoza. Shomen means "the front" and is the highest point of honour in a dojo. It is the upper seat which is reserved for the highest dan holders. Photographs of the founding sensei are often hung at the shomen. The shomen thus represents all the individuals, past and present, who have contributed towards the development of Ju-jitsu.

The joseki is the second most important area of a dojo. All assistant instructors should sit there, with the highest grade sitting closest to the shomen.

The shimoza is the lowest ranked area of the dojo. All students should be lined up in order of grade, with lowest grades at the front and highest grades at the rear. Within each row, the highest grade is to the right. Thus, the person to your right should be of equal or higher grade, and the person to your left of equal or lower grade.

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