Etiquette for the Dojo
Respect, manners, courtesy, and composure are essential to the atmosphere of the dojo. Formal classes
allow students to practice skills that, improperly used, can cause great harm to ourselves and the
classmates we depend on to help us improve. To maintain a safe and positive classroom environment,
please uphold the following:
Karate Ni Sentenashi
Karate ni sentenashi is a basic, essential part of karate training. It means that a karateka must never attack first
—mentally or physically. To understand this fully, years of hard, correct training are needed. As the
karateka grows in stature, so will grow his good manners and etiquette outwardly and, even more
importantly, inwardly. All karate training must be intense and with purpose. Correct dojo etiquette is
~Excerpt from Suzuki’s Manual, amended for grammar.
Belts are for classroom use; please learn to tie them properly once inside the dojo and remove them before
leaving. Peer students and assistants are available to help teach belt tying.
Respect the class in session. Lower phone, talking, and play volume.
Remove jewelry before class. Stud earrings and wedding bands are acceptable at your own risk.
Absolutely no gum in the dojo.
General Class Protocol
Bring gear, gi, and obi (belt) to every class. White shirts, tanks, or sport tops are the only acceptable attire
under the gi.
Gi should be clean and presentable. Feet and hands should always be visible; rolling and hemming are
acceptable. Sleeves should fall between the wrist and elbow. At intermediate rank, students should obtain
a more quality gi to withstand the time and wear to come.
Practice good hygiene. Students often work closely. Uniforms should be washed regularly and nails
should be clean and trimmed for safety.
Instructors are to be addressed as “sensei,” or by their last name and answered with “hai,” “sir,” or
“ma’am” accordingly. Assistant instructors are called “senpai.”
Arrive 10-15 minutes early to ensure you are mentally and physically prepared for class. Punctuality is
expected; however, if you are late, get ready as quickly as possible. Wait at the edge of the floor in
attention stance until the instructor invites you onto the floor. Then, bow onto the floor and join class.
Frequent tardiness is rude and interrupts the flow and plan of class.
Please hydrate with water and use the restroom before class. Bathroom emergencies happen (especially
during the younger classes). Always ask before leaving the floor for any reason.
Raise your hand and wait to be called upon. Unless prompted, speaking out in class is disruptive and sets
a poor example of self control. Questions should be genuine.
Parents, keep in mind that the instructor has the floor during class and will address conduct at the
appropriate time. Please do not try to get your child’s attention or speak to him/her while class is in
session, as it undermines the instructor and distracts the child.
Demonstrate proper posture and attitude at all times; enter class with energy, positivity, and willingness to
learn. Karate is fun; however, it requires a serious, concentrated mind. Keep your hands to yourself unless
Students should respond to commands with speed and enthusiasm. Whatever you do, do it to the best of
your ability. Whining, complaining, arguing, and making excuses have no place in class.
Line up according to rank: seniors at the right end (when facing the front). Rank is determined by when
you began training. If a student is promoted to a rank before their senior, they assume the senior position
When the class spreads out, keep the general rank order from right to left. During partner work, spread
out according to the senior.
Never correct a senior under any circumstance. If you have a question about what you have previously
understood, ask after class.
Gear should be kept on the floor. If there is no room and you must leave the floor to put on gear, there is
no need to bow on/off the floor.
When in doubt, bow!
Always bow twice, facing the front, upon entering the floor. If there is a black belt on the floor, turn
toward the black belt and bow. If you are aware of seniority, bow toward the senior black belt.
When leaving the floor, bow to any black belts first, then the front.
If a black belt is bowing on or off the floor, junior ranks should wait for them to finish before bowing.
If a black belt or sensei is bowing on or off the floor, turn and bow. The senior student present on the floor
is responsible for calling out the bow for all to hear. If the class is in session, do not divert your attention
to whomever is coming on and off the floor.
When approaching a black belt with questions, use manners. Approach them, wait to be addressed, and
bow before you pose your question and after you receive the answer.
Black Belt Conduct
All students are to show black belts the utmost respect and dignity. Regardless of age or personal relation,
black belts are addressed by their last name in the dojo.
Never walk between the instructor and the students.
Show seniors the same respect as black belts, as they have knowledge that comes from more experience.
A senior may be a blue belt to a white belt, a nidan to a shodan, or a more senior purple belt to a junior
Punching, poking, or any other type of contact with a black belt in a non-sparring context is inappropriate,
regardless of the relationship, unless initiated by the black belt. This is a rare occurrence.
Challenging, goading, or critical remarks toward a black belt is inappropriate.
Students must have a mouthpiece to spar.
Bow at the beginning and end of your match.
Seniors should spar to the level of their partner.
Though both partners may attack, the junior holds the responsibility to keep the action going.
Contact should be focused, intentional, and light. If you throw a proper technique, going beyond touch
contact will cause damage. Our intent is to train, not maim.
Techniques that land too hard, or off target, are understood to be accidental. Accidents that happen
frequently are a result of carelessness.
If a junior student believes they are treated with excessive carelessness, they may back away and bow out
to their senior, then bring it to the instructor’s attention.
If a senior student believes the junior is exercising carelessness, they should stop the match and inform
the junior. If it continues, they will issue another reminder. If the issue continues, the senior may increase
their level of contact. Before the situation gets out of control, the senior should stop the match and bring
the matter to the instructor.
Temper and attitude are not permitted in the dojo.
When a legal technique lands on a legal target, it’s considered a hit, or a “scored point.” At this point,
back away to gain distance. The person who has been scored on should extend their glove to be tagged by
their partner which acknowledges the point and starts a fresh round. After distance is regained, begin
Debate over the validity of a “point” is unnecessary and inappropriate in jiyu kumite.
As a junior, if there is a question in your mind as to the validity of a point, give it to the senior.
As a senior, if there is a question in your mind as to the validity of the point, give it to the junior.
Seek not to master others; instead, master yourself. Lead by example!