Onaga Dai Sensei always says, "Your actions reveal your heart" and
this holds true for students who train at the Shinjinbukan. While a
full appreciation of the Shinjinbukan dojo etiquette would require
more than few paragraphs, here are several points that we follow
when training and socializing with each other. Neither Onaga Sensei,
nor Kogan Sensei will ever make or request that anyone follow dojo
etiquette. Just remember, "Your actions reveal your heart."
It is important to know that there is a specific reason why we do each of these things and sometimes the reason is not readily apparent, much like kata. If you don't understand why you are being asked to follow these etiquette guidelines then ask your sempai.
Here are just a few pointers, mostly for students currently training in the Shinjinbukan. The list is not exhaustive and is meant to be a reminder to all students to help them know their place in the dojo.
Sensei-Student Etiquette While Training In the Dojo
How you train is as much about knowing your place in the dojo as it is about how good your technique is or how hard you train. First and foremost, always train hard in the dojo and follow the dojo rules. Here are some of the things to remember about Sensei-Student etiquette in the dojo:
1) How you behave towards your Sensei reveals how you would like your relationship with him to be. If you treat your Sensei like a respected teacher, there is a greater possibility he will treat you like a student.
2) If your Sensei asks you to approach, bow first and approach slowly
3) If your Sensei wants to demonstrate something with you as the uke, let him take your arm, don't stick it out for him and don't move unless told to move
4) Try not to stand between your Sensei and the Shomen
5) If your Sensei corrects your technique, don't tell him why you were doing it wrong, just change it and say
"Thank you" or ask for clarification if needed.
6) When sitting in the Dojo you shouldn't point the bottoms of your feet at Sensei or at the Shomen.
7) Arrange the shoes at the door so that Sensei's shoes are accessible and first in line and so that he can simply step into them (i.e. heels towards the dojo floor).
8) Never ask Sensei if he wants you to clean the dojo floor after training. Just clean it. If he doesn't want you to he will tell you.
9) If Sensei asks you to line up, do so quickly and then stand still until he tells you what he would like you to do.
10) If you have a question, bow and ask Sensei the question.
Sensei-Student Etiquette Outside the Dojo
It doesn't matter if you are training or at a restaurant or a hardware store, here are a few more things to keep in mind:
1) Try not to walk ahead of Sensei thus making him follow you. Walk off to the side and slightly behind. This can get tricky with stairs or with holding doors open but always make sure you try!
2) Stairs are a bit of an exception. Try to walk down a set of stairs ahead of Sensei, to avoid having your feet be at the same level as Sensei's head.
3) Never eat or drink before being invited to eat or drink by Sensei. Regardless of whether or not your food/drink has been served to you.
4) Do not hold side conversations when at the table.
5) Try to finish your food/drink before Sensei is finished. Never keep him waiting for you to finish your food.
6) When offered something to eat, (unless you are allergic to it) you should eat it. (Yes, I'm serious!)
Peer Etiquette in the Dojo
Peer etiquette is probably the least complicated while training the dojo. Here are a few basic guidelines:
1) Treat each other with respect
2) Be polite. Always say, "Onegai shi masu" (if you please) and bow before you engage with a training partner (this goes for both sempai and kohai)
3) Always bow and say thank you when you separate (this goes for sempai and kohai)
4) Don't talk to each other in the dojo
5) Pay attention to your juniors and help them in their training (someone was kind enough to help you when you were a junior so do the same when you have rank).
Sempai-Kohai Etiquette in the Dojo
1) As sempai, never put your Sensei in the position of having to teach or enforce proper etiquette. Etiquette enforcement is the responsibility of the senior student on the floor.
2) As kohai, if your sempai corrects you for etiquette reasons, don't argue, just say thank or bow and continue with your training.
3) If you are kohai, always hit full speed and full force when training with your sempai. Don't insult them by holding back.
4) If you are sempai, recognize the limits of what your kohai can do and use speed and force accordingly.
5) If your sempai asks you to stop doing something when you are training together, don't argue, just stop doing it.
6) If you are kohai, understand that your sempai may be holding back when you train together for your own benefit. Don't
take this for granted!
7) Do what your sempai asks you to do. If Sensei corrects you for doing something that your sempai has shown you don't say,
"Well, sempai said I should do it that way". Just say thank you and change it.
8) If your sempai shows you something different from what Sensei has shown you, don't assume it is wrong or right, just make note of it and ask Sensei later if you are curious.
4th Dan Shorinryu
Shinjinbukan Victoria Dojo