Dojo Etiquette

Learn more about dojo etiquette from the experts in Dromore

Respecting our dojo

An Aikido dojo is not a sports club or a gym that you go to for a work-out. It is a sacred place and it is very important to respect the spirit that emanates within. The purpose of the dojo is to help people improve their lives physically, mentally, and spiritually. Everyone is welcome and will be accepted for who they are.
Martin Acton sensei with Philip Shields. Giving Philip his certificate for passing his grade. Martin Acton's Aikido Institute
8 week Self-defence class for women. Young girls learning to throw attacker. Martin Acton's Aikido Institute

Getting changed

There will be a dressing room for men and another for women and these should be kept as clean and tidy as the rest of the dojo. When you leave please clean up and remember to take all your belongings with you. When you are moving from dressing room to the main practice area, where the mats are located, please wear sandals as this will keep your feet clean and safe.

As you enter the practice area

When you step through the door give a standing bow to the Shomen. Next please greet the instructor (“good evening Sensei”) and bow to the instructor. It is also polite to greet other students (“good evening everyone”). This creates a warm and friendly atmosphere for everyone and shows you have come with a positive and open mind to learn. After that you come in and step onto the mat, kneel down, and bow again to the Shomen.
 Before entering the training hall, please make sure your sandals are placed together facing away from the mats. This makes it easy to put them on if you have to leave in a hurry.
Photo of the Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Martin Acton's Aikido Institute
Matthew Smith receiving his certificate for passing his grade. Martin Acton's Aikido Institute

The lesson

Five minutes before the start of the lesson is a quiet time of preparation. Please sit calmly in meditation, or do gentle stretches, and be considerate of other students who are also preparing a peaceful mind before the lesson begins. When you talk to another person please keep it to a whisper. Two minutes before the lesson begins everyone should kneel facing the Shomen, in lines, ready for the instructor to start the lesson. The instructor leads the class bowing to the Shomen then turns to the students and bows to them. You and the other students bow at the same time and the instructor says “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” to which you reply “onegaishimasu”. The instructor will lead the warm up exercises and when warm up is finished everyone kneels down. The instructor will then call one student by name and that person bows, says “yes,” goes to the instructor at the front of class, and bows again. A demonstration is given to which you must pay attention. When it is time to practise the technique that was shown you bow to the person next to you and start practising. If the instructor calls “change” then bow to your partner and thank them, find another partner, bow again to this person, and continue to practise.

The mats

This area is where we practise and it is important that it is kept clean. Never step on the mats with your shoes as it is very disrespectful. Shoes are never worn on the mats. Before you go onto the mats make sure the bottom of your feet are clean. If they are not then do not go onto the mats.
Martin Acton teaching Chris McGrath a technique for his next test. Martin Acton's Aikido Institute
A lady wearing rings watch and bracelets. Martin Acton's Aikido Institute

Valuables and jewellery

The safety of your valuables is your own responsibility! Please don’t bring expensive jewellery, watches, or wallets full of cash to the dojo and leave them unattended. 

Also, please do not wear watches, rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, or charms during your Aikido practice. This is for the safety of all students, teachers, and your own valuables.

Personal hygiene

Please be considerate of others when you practise Aikido, this also includes personal hygiene. Aikido students are very careful about how we affect others. It is important to make sure we are clean before we start our practice. If you can’t have a shower before lessons then please make sure your face, hands, and feet are clean before you go onto the mat.

For safety reasons please keep your finger and toenails trimmed short. This will prevent you from injuring yourself, your partner, or your instructor. In case you cut yourself during class it is a good idea to make sure you have a plaster and a bandage in your bag. If someone scratches you during practice please leave the mat immediately, wash the cut, and put a secure plaster on it. If you drop blood on the mat please get a cloth, wet it, and wipe the mat as soon as possible.
Applying an Aikido pin to restrain an attacker. Martin Acton's Aikido Institute
Martin Acton Sensei kneeling in a line at stat of Aikido lesson. . Martin Acton's Aikido Institute

The True Value of Aikido etiquette

It is easy to minimise the value of etiquette to a series of bows in and out of the dojo; on and off the mat; before and after practice. However, the positive impact of etiquette can reach much further into our lives and relationships outside the dojo than technique alone.

Look around and you will see that the really good practitioners in Aikido, as in every other walk of life, are defined by their etiquette. That is, in the way they conduct themselves.

Those that are respected are not full of self-importance. They are humble and kind. They respect beginners and seniors equally. Quietly confident in their own abilities, they focus on others rather than themselves. They gain respect because they give respect.

Aikido etiquette is also respect for our dojo just as we would respect our home. It is respect for our instructors and fellow students just as we would respect our family.

Our home dojo deserves the same loyalty and protection that we give to our homes and families. In the words of Maruyama Sensei, “A dojo is not a gym and Aikido is not a sport.”

A dojo is a very special place and should never be treated as a convenience store or part of a cross-training menu. Training and grading under the guidance of Sensei who teach by choice is a privilege. Selfless dedication to home dojo in the Samurai tradition, is still one of the values that underpins Aikido’s connected journey.

Enjoy your training

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For more information on Aikido etiquette and our lessons get in touch with Martin Acton's Aikido Institute in Dromore on:

07869 402 588
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