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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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From the outside, karate looks like it's all about punches and fancy kicks. But in reality, karate is an art about manners, etiquette and attitude. In the dojo, even if your karate is weak and pretty useless; as long as you work hard, and show a real and determined commitment, then you will always receive praise. However, if you show disrespect to anyone in the dojo, or even to the dojo itself, you will be heavily punished and possibly asked to not return to the club again.

Upon watching your first ever karate class, you may see people bowing to one another, you will see people bowing as they enter or exit the dojo, and you will see people, even when they have been hit in the face or stomach, they will still bow to one another. Its about respect- the respect you show others, the respect you have for the dojo, the respect you have for the art, and the respect you have for yourself. Without this principle of Rei (When people bow), karate would be nothing.

Below are some basic tips and information about what you should and shouldn’t do in the dojo:

  1. Arrive on time for the class.
  2. When you enter or leave the dojo, you bring your feet together in musubi-dachi and bow (but don’t say oss)
  3. Always call the instructor Sensei
  4. Follow instruction effectively. If your instructor says line up, don’t waddle, you must sprint.
  5. Always keep yourself clean and tidy – cut your toenails, wash your karate suit etc
  6. No smoking in the dojo
  7. No drinking alcohol in the dojo
  8. No swearing in the dojo
  9. No violence in or outside of the dojo
  10. Follow instruction without question
  11. No jewellery when training
  12. No yawning in class
  13. No unnecessary talking
  14. No chewing gum or eating whilst practicing
  15. Always show 100% commitment. To not do so means you don’t respect the skills of your instructor

Etiquette in the dojo is all about respect. Provided that you train hard and are considerate to others, you will find training a doddle. You will learn over time that the rules of the dojo will become quite instinctive to you and you’ll pick them up quite easily from example and through instruction.