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Proper Okinawan/ japanese Etiquette

It is the responsibility of every Juko-Kai dojo headmaster and sponsored official to insure that each and every member of their school and/or association is thoroughly acquainted with the formal etiquette of the Okinawan/Japanese martial arts. Please make copies and pass them out to all dojo members, and make sure they are required reading.

General Etiquette

General Etiquette

  • Never show the bottom of your feet to the front of the dojo or to an instructor, unless you are being instructed to stretch that way. Sit in seiza or cross-legged at all times. 
  • Never turn your back on an instructor, back up looking and facing the instructor.
  • Use the proper chain of command at all times…if you have a problem, go to the Dojo Sempai first, then to the Dojo Headmaster. The Dojo Headmaster will decide if you need to speak to a Shihan or higher.
  • When approaching a black belt or the Dojo Headmaster or a Juko-Kai Official, stand 4-6 feet away at attention and wait to be acknowledged to approach. Then bow, approach and ask your question. If the instructor is busy and does not acknowledge you within a few minutes, back off and try again at a later time.
  • When entering and leaving the dojo, STOP and bow to the front of the room.
  • When late entering the class, get ready as quickly as possible, proceed to the edge of the training floor, and wait standing or kneeling to be acknowledged by the Headmaster to enter the floor. Bow when being acknowledged. 
  • When shaking hands with a black belt, wait for the higher rank to offer a hand, than shake with the right hand and tuck the left with an open hand to the forearm of your right arm.
  • When bowing to a Shihan or above, do not look directly in the eyes. Look down at knee level. 
  • When receiving a certificate, award, weapon, or other item from an instructor or higher-ranking student, present both hands open, palms-up, to receive.
  • Do not leave the training floor without permission.
  • Kneel when a Sensei or Headmaster is demonstrating a technique. Even if you are training nearby, and the instructor corrects the technique of another student, stop, kneel, and give the instructor your attention. It may answer your question as well.
  • Always thank the instructor for assisting. 
  • The first person to observe a Shihan (5th dan master or above) enter the dojo, should immediately call the class to attention and acknowledge the master by bowing.
  • NEVER talk while a Dojo Headmaster or Instructor is addressing the class. 
  • Unless you are a 5th dan or above, never approach a group of masters who are talking. You can most likely get your question answered by your Sempai or Sensei. 
  • Students are required to put down and pick up mats, help clean whatever needs it, and help carry things for Instructors.
  • It is impolite to request a change in class activities. The Instructors respect your time and desire to train, and will not have you train uselessly. Know that there is a purpose to the activity, even if it is not apparent to you at the moment.
  • Always put all your effort into your training.
  • When bowing in at the beginning of class, the first bow (Shomen ni rei) is respect to the head master and the ryu. In turn, you may also bow to any present master instructors (Shihan ni rei). Then one bows to the Dojo Headmaster and/or Sensei which is Sensei ni rei. If more than one black belt is present, the class then bows to Yudansha ni rei. It is a formality for the highest rank to stand when lining up.
  • At no time do you ever call a high ranking dan degree by their first name unless you are equal to, or of a higher rank. Proper etiquette requires you to address a higher rank by their proper title (Sempai, Sensei, Shihan, Soke-Dai, Soke).
  • Sempai insure that the rules of the dojo are followed so that these things do not waste the time of the Sensei or Dojo Headmaster. 
  • Understand that no one leads a martial arts class unless instructed to so by the Dojo Headmaster. Treat any person who is put in charge with the same respect as you would the Headmaster. 
  • Do not teach or display any of your martial arts to another person, whether in or out of the dojo.
  • Permission must be granted by the Headmaster for you to demonstrate the martial arts outside of your school. 
  • At the end of class, members will line up and again acknowledge Instructors and attending black belts.
  • When dismissed, do not move until the Headmaster and other black belts have left the training floor.
  • Do not  wear your obi and martial arts uniform outside of the dojo, unless your class is outdoors. It is not proper to wear your uniform to a store, restaurant, etc.

A hombu appointed Shihan serves as the personal representative of the Ryu Soke. They are the “police officers” of the ryu and are responsible to enforce the rules and regulations of the ryu. A Shihan is the highest ranking official within the ryu, with each Shihan reporting directly to the central hombu (Soke-Dai, Soke).

Care of Martial Arts of Form

One must take pride in their uniform (gi) at all times.  It should always be clean, in good repair, with proper patches sewn on it in a professional manner. In the martial arts, when the gi jacket is being put on, it is required that the left side always crosses over the right side and is on top of the right side. This means you are “alive.”  When you die, the right side of the gi jacket is placed on top of the left side. Your obi should be tied so that the obi ends are even after the knot has been completed. Writing of your name, or rank stripes on the end of the obi are always on the left side (if you are given permission to do so). Check hombu regulations before writing anything on a gi or obi.

Never dress or put on your obi while facing an Instructor or higher ranking Shihan, Soke-Dai, or Soke. When you present yourself, make sure you are fully dressed and ready to train.  If you need to straighten or fix your uniform or obi, always turn away from the Instructor or Dojo Headmaster, straighten, then turn back for training. One never stands around in a dojo in a gi while others train. This is highly disrespectful. If you are injured and cannot train, remove your gi top and obi and have a seat away from the training area. Wearing your gi means you are “ready to train.”

Mealtime Etiquette

When it is time to stand in a line for a meal, always allow higher ranking Instructors and Officials to get food and drink ahead of you. It is improper to begin eating or drinking before the highest ranking member begins. If toasting, the most senior members glass should be raised higher than the glasses of lower ranking members. When taking a picture with a senior, stand to that persons left side. In group photos, the most senior member should be in front, and centered. Never sit at the most senior’s table unless he/she has invited you to do so.