Dojo-kun and Etiquette

Dojo-kun (Training rules)
When attending a training, keep in mind that karate is not just about it being a physical sport, but also about respect and control. This is why karate is also considered a lifestyle. Respect and control are very important attributes for training Karate. Therefore we want to clear the air for some of you and explain the basic principles of Shotokan karate.
In Shotokan karate there are five guiding principles set by Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan karate. These principles are:
一、人格 完成に 努める こと

Hitotsu, jinkaku kansei ni tsutomeru koto


Hitotsu, makoto no michi wo mamoru koto


Hitotsu, doryoku no seishin wo yashinau koto


Hitotsu, reigi wo omonzuru koto


Hitotsu, kekki no yū wo imashimuru koto

The meaning of “Hitotsu” is often interpreted as “one” or “first” or “first of all”. This is done to indicate that all principles are equally important. These principles can be translated in many ways. According to the interpretation of the JKA these rules can best be expressed in the following way:

一、人格 完成に 努める こと                              Seek Perfection of Character

一、誠の道を守ること                                                       Be Faithful
一、努力の精神を養うこと                                               Endeavour
一、礼儀を重んずること                                                Respect Others
一、血気の勇を戒むること                       Refrain From Violent Behaviour

In itself, these principles show the essence of karate. True understanding of karate is understanding these principles. As their interpretation is broad, consider that they are not just about karate, but present a foundation of how one should behave in everyday life.

Dojo etiquette

Participating in a training is all based on the five principles. There are general rules of conduct for trainings worldwide. We aim to give you some common knowledge about these rules. Try to follow these rules closely, as they are signs of respect. When you’re attending trainings, seminars or workshops while not showing this respect, some people, especially higher ups, will take offence and you shame your own sensei (teacher) in this way.

When entering and leaving the hall: Greet. Face the hall. Close your feet. Hold your arms to your sides and bow your upper body. Also when leaving, turn around to face the hall and bow.

Commencing the training: Form a line going from the wall to the door, high grade to low grade belts. This stems from history, from the times when people went around to challenge other dojo’s. You could not simply step in and challenge the master; you had to prove yourself. One by one the challenger had to fight the students, ranking up, before being allowed to challenge the sensei.

After lining up there is a conduct of respect and calming the mind. The conduct is reflected in a number of commands. Wait for the commands given by the Senpai (first in line), as again, this is a sign of respect. The order of commands is usually:

1) Seiza: Kneeling down. Done in the rank order, starting with the higher ranks. Start by going down on your left knee. The right knee follows next. The space between your knees is no more than the width of a fist. You sit down on your knees, with your right big toe crossed over your left one. Your hands are resting on your upper legs.

2) Mokuso: Meditating. Taking some time to clear your mind and create focus. This is done by closing the eyes, relaxing the body and focusing on your own breathing only.

3) Mokuso Yame: Stop meditating.

4) Shomen ni Rei: Bow to the Shomen (front). We bow as a sign of respect and thanks to the founder of Shotokan and the ancestors. Your hands should slide from your lap to the floor, forming a triangle with your hands. The response to the Shomen is silent, as a respect for those who have passed.

5) Sensei ni Rei: Greeting the Sensei. Thanking the teacher in advance for the lesson that will be given. Bowing is as described before. However now, as a sign of respect, we say “oss” to the Sensei.

6) Otagai ni Rei: Greeting each other. This is a symbolic way of giving thanks to everyone present for helping to learn karate. Bowing is the same as with “Sensei ni Rei” also saying “oss” as respect to each other.

7) Hiritsu: Standing up. Starting again at the highest rank, you are not allowed to stand up before the person before you is standing. First sit straight up on your knees, then place your right foot forward while keeping your back straight, and finally stand up on both feet.

When you’re late: Sit down on your knees at the side of the training and greet. Wait for the Sensei to notice you. He will give you a sign to either join in immediately or a sign to do some exercises as punishment for disrespect; this will be a certain number of push-ups, sit-ups, etc. After the sign either do your exercises, followed by again greeting and then joining, or, if you’re allowed to join in immediately, greet again and join in.

During training: During trainings be polite and listen when something is explained. After an explanation respond with “oss” to indicate that you’ve understood. Elsewise the Sensei will explain it again or in another way.
One should not leave the dojo floor unless something is wrong (e.g., you are injured, you feel like throwing up, etc.).  It is improper to take a break whenever you are simply tired or thirsty and then rejoin the class.

At the end of the class: At the end of the class we line-up again. In our dojo, the closing ceremony is basically the same as the line-up at the beginning of the training. We follow the commands of the Senpai. At the end, after the last person also stands, stay in place for possible announcements. After we are finished you are thanked for the training.