Dojo Etiquette

The dojo is a place where we come to focus on our training. Hence it should be treated with pride and respect. The Dojo Etiquette applies to everyone regardless of rank, right up to the most senior instructor.

For new beginners, the key things you need to know are:

Leave your shoes at its designated area before entering the dojo

Whenever you enter or leave the dojo, do so with a strong “Osu”

Make sure your Dogi(uniform) is clean and neat

No jewellery and keep nails cut short

When the instructor indicates class is about to start, line up in rank order with Black belts in front through to white belts at the back

Memorize the Dojo Kun as quickly as possible


Before your first grading, you should become familiar with, and abide by the following:

When entering or leaving the dojo, always face the front, bow and say “Osu”, then face the general direction of the other students in the class, bow and say “Osu” again.

When entering or leaving the dojo, always face the front, bow and say “Osu”, then face the general direction of the other students in the class, bow and say “Osu” again. When late to class, kneel facing the back of the class in SEIZA. Wait with your eyes closed in MOKUSO. When acknowledged, stand, turn to the front of the dojo and bow once again with a strong “OSU”, and quickly join the back of the class. Students who are late for class should try harder to be on time.

Do not remove any part of your DOGI during training without being told to do so.

Do not eat, chew gum, smoke or drink in the dojo.

When asked to proceed to a position, or when lining up at the beginning of training or for some reason during training, always move as quickly as possible. DO NOT STROLL.

Never practice Kumite unless an instructor is present. When practicing Kumite with a black belt, do your very best, but show respect for the rank. If you think you can go harder then do so, but remember that they have your lower rank in mind while they are sparring, and so will not be fighting their hardest.

Do not ask a higher grade for Kumite. You should not refuse however, if you are asked by a senior grade.

Do not break rank for any reason without permission from the instructor. Never walk between rows, or between the instructor and those training. If you must leave your position, walk behind the row you are in to either side of the class and proceed from there.

Address your instructor as SEMPAI, SENSEI or SHIHAN, as the case may be. Do not address an instructor by their first name/last name in class. If your class has more than one instructor, address the main instructor as SHIHAN-DAI.

Do not swear, laugh, giggle, talk, lounge or act inattentively during training. Treat your training seriously; it is not a laughing matter. A karate-ka is always alert and well behave. Possession of a senior grade (especially black belt) is not your ticket to relaxation and familiarity in the dojo. Do not waste your time and everyone else’s if you are not prepared to treat your training and your fellow karate-ka with respect and the seriousness deserved. This includes leaving before the end of training. Unless directed by the instructor, a student should remain in the class until completion of the final bow-out. Abuse of this rule will not be tolerated.

Turn to the back, away from the front of the class, or from your partner if you are working with someone, to adjust your Dogi. Kneel on your right knee to adjust or re-tie your belt. Learn to respect your belt as a symbol of your efforts in training.

Your Dogi must be washed clean and neat at all times. Your belt should be aired dry but never washed, as it symbolically contains the spirit of your hard training.

Listen carefully to the instructor’s directions. Remember that the instructor will not ask you to do what he or she may think you can not do. Acknowledge all instructions with a strong “Osu”.

The instructor, whoever it may be, should be treated with the respect that you yourself would expect as common courtesy. If you cannot find it in you to show respect to a person who is taking their time to teach you, then you do not belong in a karate dojo. Never question his/her direction; never speak in class unless asked by the instructor. Such obedience develops a bond of trust between the instructor and student, which improves mutual receptivity, simplifying and speeding the learning process.

For the sake of safety and neatness, do not wear jewelry during training, or when you are wearing your Dogi. Jewellery includes but not limited to objects such as: (ear-rings, ear-studs, anklets, bracelets, chains, strings, pendants, amulets, etc).

Keep your toenails and fingernails clean and cut short at all times. Always be sure your feet, nails and hands are washed clean for training. In training you often work closely with others. Nobody likes to train with someone who is dirty.

Be sure to go to the toilet prior to training. An accidental blow to a full bladder can be extremely dangerous. Try also to remember that it is not good for the body to train on a full stomach, so avoid eating for at least one hour before class starts.

Should there be any break, hydrate (do not drink too much) yourself. Instead of idling, take the opportunity to practice or clarify with the instructors on areas that you need help in.

Never ask the instructor if you can go for grading. Grading is not an entitlement but a privilege accorded to you when the instructor qualifies you.


Visiting other Dojo:

If you intend to visit another Dojo for extra training, please be polite to seek your instructor’s permission. When visiting another Dojo, you represent not only yourself, but your instructor and the Dojo you train in as well. Therefore your instructor will want to ensure that you are aware of the proper protocols involved in such visits.