The Aikidō dōjō is the place where we cleanse and enrich our mind/body. Such a place offers effective use only when it is filled with feelings of respect, gratitude, right attitude, and positive mutual support; we strive for plus ki in the dōjō. When you come into the dōjō, you will notice that everyone works very hard and sincerely to maintain these feelings. Any feelings to the contrary should be left outside the dōjō. Following traditional forms of etiquette in the dōjō is an essential aspect of our training and should be practiced with sincerity.
You will find, if you remain with Aikidō for long, that “Dōjō Etiquette” is not a set list of rules, but rather a living attitude. Just as discipline is a tool to use only until we learn to love the thing that is good for us, so the following lists are a basis upon which to build our awareness of right thinking and right acting in relation to others.
Bowing is an appropriate way of showing gratitude and humility, while at the same time placing one’s mind in a state of non-dissension, which is necessary for right training. Bowing also helps us to connect with the ki of our training partner, which makes our throws more effective.
When to bow
1. Upon entering and exiting the dōjō.
2. When stepping on or off the mat bow to the
shōmen to show your respect for the training space.
3. Before class we bow to the
shōmen to show our respect for the dōjō,
and to the instructor to show
our respect for their teaching.
4. After each training session, we bow again to the
shōmen, and to the instructor, saying “Thank you,
5. Bow whenever requesting or receiving help from
an instructor or another student.
6. Bow whenever greeting the sensei.
7. When in doubt, a bow is never out of place.
On the mat
1. The sensei is treated with respect at all times.
2. Yūdansha (students with black belts) are referred
to as “sensei” at all times, on and off the mat.
3. Never interrupt the class to question unnecessarily.
If you must ask a question, wait until an
4. Do not call out to or interrupt the sensei while he/
she is teaching.
5. Do not leave the mat during class without first
obtaining the permission of the sensei, unless there
is an emergency.
6. There should never be conversation of any kind
while the sensei is demonstrating. When training
with your partner, speak only as absolutely necessary.
7. Never argue about a technique. If there is a
problem that cannot be resolved, ask the sensei.
8. When the sensei is teaching a point, do not
attempt to move ahead to another point, thinking
you know what is next.
9. Make it a point to fold the sensei’s hakama
immediately at the close of class. The same applies
to all yūdansha (black belts). No yūdansha should
ever have to fold his or her own hakama after class.
Any of the senior students will gladly teach you
how to do so.
10. The formal sitting position on the mat is
seiza. During long explanations, or if you have
an injury, you may sit agura (cross-legged).
Do not sit with arms or legs outstretched
or lean against post or walls. Do not lie down
during class. These behaviors show disrespect
for the sensei and the other students. These rules
are also for safety; dangling limbs can be fallen
upon or trip other students.
11. Never be idle during practice. You should be
training or, if necessary, seated formally awaiting
12. During class, while standing or sitting, never
fold your arms across your chest. This denotes
arrogance and a closed mind.
13. Never use the shōmen weapons for your own
Preparing for training
1. Always make yourself aware of any particular
needs of the sensei prior to class beginning. A
bench, a glass of water, written notes, weapons, or
anything else the sensei may require; these must be
attended to properly, and placed appropriately.
2. Before class, all students must attend to the
readiness of the training space. The mats must be
swept, and (if applicable) the shōmen assembled
from the closet.
3. After class, the mats must be cleaned. This means
picking up walkway mats, sweeping, and sanitizing
the floor mats. All students are expected to help.
4. All students should always arrive at the dōjō with
plenty of time to change and help with cleaning,
and report to the mat at least 15 minutes before
class is to begin.
5. If you are late for class, bow on to the mat and wait
at the side of the mat until the person leading class
signals that you may join the class. Bow and join
whatever activity is in progress.
6. No gum chewing or eating is allowed on the mat
7. Make sure your mind is positive as you enter the
dōjō. Any negative feelings should be left outside
the dōjō. There is no place for them inside.
8. Always enter the dōjō with an empty mind. If you
think you know already, it will be difficult for you
9. No rings, watches, or jewelry of any kind should be
worn during practice.
10. If you are ill or over-tired, do not come to the dōjō;
stay home and take care of yourself.
11. Your body and, in particular, your feet, must be
clean before you step onto the mat. All nails (both
hands and feet) must be kept trimmed to avoid
In and around the dojo
1. If you go to train in another dōjō, or another
school of Aikidō, do not attempt to impose your
style of training upon them. Instead, try to grasp
exactly what the sensei is teaching.
2. Never put down another form of martial art, or
any other form of self development discipline.
3. A place of martial arts training should be kept
spotless. If you see something that indicates
otherwise, for example rubbish or dirt on the floor,
don’t wait for someone else to correct it. This is
part of your training.
4. Treat your training tools with respect. Your gi
should always be clean and mended. Your weapons
should be in good condition, and stored properly
when not in use.
5. A pair of slippers is part of your training outfit.
Shoes are clumsy and inappropriate when stepping
on and off the mat, and barefoot is out of the
question. Slippers must always be left neatly facing
away from the mat. If someone’s slippers are not in
order, correct it immediately.