Start and End of Each Class

Starting and Ending the Class

NOTE: The protocol followed may vary from dōjō to dōjō

The instructor or senior student calls everyone to line up saying “seiretsu“.

When lining up, each person is to stand shoulder to shoulder with the person to their right.

The line is to be as straight as possible.

When bowing, bring your heels together and point your toes in a 45 degree “V” position. Place the palms of your hands at the side of your thighs. Bow to approximately 20 degrees, while keeping your back straight. As you bow, your eyes must follow your bow. Never stare into your partners’ eyes as you bow. This shows disrespect and distrust.

The instructor or senior student calls the students to kneel one after the other by rank saying “seiza”.

From attention stance proceed left knee down first, then right knee, toes touching but not crossed. (Remember,… Left behind)

Sit with a straight back, do not slouch or show fatigue, remain still.

The instructor or senior student calls class to meditate by clapping his hands once and saying “mokuso“! 

Close your eyes and breathe in through the nose. Hold your breath for a count of three. Then exhale out your mouth. Repeat the breathing until you hear the next command from the senior student or instructor. Prepare your mind for the karate class.

The instructor or senior student will end meditation with a single clap of the hands and saying “mokuso yame“.

Open your eyes, everyone looks to Shomen

The instructor or senior student says “Shinzen Ni Gasho”.”

All perform the kneeling ceremonial bow.


The instructor or senior student says “Kaiso ni keirei“.

All perform the kneeling ceremonial bow.

The instructor will turn to face the class. The instructor or senior student says “(Shihan/Sensei/Sempai) ni keirei“.

All perform the kneeling ceremonial bow.

The students at the far right and far left of the front line will turn inwards at a 45 degree angle.

The instructor or senior student says ” Otagai ni rei”.

All perform the kneeling ceremonial bow.


The students at the far right and far left of the front line will turn to face forward.

The instructor first rises from kneeling position to attention stance (heiko dachi), then senior belt rises and the next rises and so on by rank (Remember,… Right up).

The instructor will change from heiko dachi to musubi dachi and perform a standing ceremonial bow, the students will also change their stance from heiko dachi to musubi dachi and perform a standing ceremonial bow.

The instructor or senior student will say to the class to spread out to begin the practice.

If it is the end of the class there may be some announcements before the class is dismissed and the dojo is cleaned and equipment put away.














Dojo Manners

Dojo manners, or how one is expected to behave in the dojo. Most karate schools are based on a traditional military model, and rules are expected to be followed very strictly. Everyone must perform the tasks assigned to them.

Because of the serious nature of the practice being undertaken in the dojo, good etiquette, manners and common sense must be instilled in students for self discipline, motivation, respect for themselves their training partners, senior students and instructors, and to ensure the safety of all who train there.

All students are expected to arrive on-time for class
It is preferred to arrive a little earlier to help prepare the dojo for training
Upon entering or leaving, the dojo salutation rituals must be performed
This may vary between different Shorinjiryu branches.
Keep training clothing or karate gi clean.
The best defence is not to offend.
Outdoor shoes must NOT be worn on the mat areas.
Martial arts shoes or Gym sneakers are permitted for those with arch of foot problems.
If you have an injury, please tell the instructor at the beginning of the class, so that you will not be expected to do an exercise to aggravate an injury.
If you must leave the dojo, to go to the washroom or to get a drink, ask permission of the instructor so that he knows where you are. It is also a safety issue.
When paired with a partner each will bow before beginning and upon completion of the exercise.
Remember to respect your partner, we train to help one another, not hurt one another.
Formal standing bow facing partner.
The instructions of the Sensei are to be adhered to for the safety of yourself and your training partner.
Never horseplay or roughhouse.
The Martial Arts are deadly serious.
After using any equipment: target squares, chest shields, headgear, hand/foot protection, place them neatly at side of mat area.
This is your dojo, keep it neat and tidy and take care of the equipment.
– Be loyal to the dojo, the instructors, and the art that they teach.
– Work to help the dojo and our organization.
– Do not demonstrate Martial Arts techniques to non-club members.

– Everyone initially starts at the bottom – and works hard to improve.

Dojo Rules

Every dojo has it’s own set of rules. The following encompasses many of the rules for dojos I have encountered during my years of training.

  1. Students will bow before entering and before leaving the dojo.
  2. Students will not walk on the workout area with shoes on. Students must wear shoes or sandals to and from the dressing rooms and the mat area.
  3. Students will behave appropriately at all times, both inside and outside the dojo.
  4. No Karate student will provoke violence or allow himself to be provoked into violence.
  5. Higher belts will aid lower belts in their training.
    Lower belts will follow the instructions of higher belts in the dojo.
  6. No alcohol or non-prescription drugs will be taken.
  7. No chewing gum or eating in the dojo while training.
  8. Students must refrain from criticizing other Martial Arts with which they are not familiar. All Martial Arts have the same basic aim within their teachings. To cultivate the individual’s mind, embody his mental culture, and above all, to perfect his character.
  9. Personal cleanliness is essential. Finger and toe nails must be kept short.
  10. Students will arrive for classes at the designated time.
  11. No rings, watches or other jewellery may be worn during classes for the safety of your partner and yourself.
  12. Karate uniforms must fit the student properly and will be kept clean and in good repair.
    (Jacket must be on unless specific training requires it to be off.)
  13. Under no circumstances will any Karate be taught by any member to any non-member.
  14. The Club Instructor and other black belts are called “Sensei”.
    In some dojo, the rule may be to address Black Belts as Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss. and only the chief instructor is to be addressed as “Sensei”.
  15. For dojo etiquette and mutual respect students must bow to one another.
  16. During formal classes, students should not leave the dojo without permission. It is a safety issue.
  17. During formal classes, students must be attentive to the instructors at all times. Students must not idly sit lean against the walls, or lie down on the mat.
  18. All students share in the responsibility for keeping the Dojo safe and clean.
  19. Students must remember that the teachings are safe as long as one keeps in mind the dangers and harm that can come from these teachings if not controlled.
  20. Students will maintain a serious attitude at all times. No profanity or loud talking is permitted in the dojo.
  21. There will be no sparring without permission and being under the direct supervision of a Black Belt or the Sensei.
  22. Students must approach and correct others not abiding by the Dojo rules. Anyone who violates these rules will be subject to disciplinary action as directed by the chief instructor.
  23. Visitors are welcome, but must be made aware of the dojo rules by the student.
  24. Any student using his skills outside the Dojo irresponsibly will be expelled from the dojo.    

Karatedo begins and ends with courtesy.

Karatedo wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru

Karatedo begins and ends with courtesy.


How do you show your courtesy and respect in your culture?

In Japanese culture, they bow. They bow a lot actually. Bowing is an ancient practice and is a sign of mutual respect and trust. Bowing in the martial arts is not showing of subservience, as it is in Western culture (i.e. bowing to royalty).

Even if you are not in Japan, being in the dōjō there many Japanese traditions, customs and rituals that are followed today. Historically they had (still have?) meanings but somewhere between then and now, we have lost the meanings and even outside of the  dōjō in modern Japanese society, some of these may not be performed any more.

Whenever or wherever you train karate, judo kung fu, kendo, jiu jitsu or any martial art, you are expected to follow certain etiquette and manners. The rules may vary from place to place , however these etiquette and manners are basically to “show respect”.

When you enter the dōjō , remember that the other people who are there too came for the same reasons as you, so you must show respect to them, to the teachers who are present and to their teachers as well.

The bow is one of the first things you learn to do in Shorinjiryu Karate.


Usually the entrance to the dōjō  (training area) is placed directly opposite to the shomen (place of honour) at the front of the dōjō . Depending on the Shorinjryu school or club, the shomen  would have a picture of our founder and the current chief instructor, flag of your country, calligraphy, and in some dōjō  a religious symbol like a crucifix or

 a Kamiza (a little shinto religious altar with flowers).
When you enter at the beginning of class you are in a position to bow. We bow before we enter the training room to the people inside the dōjō  that you will be training with. If there is nobody is inside, you must still bow. But you are not bowing to an empty dōjō , you are bowing to the spirit of those who may be away right now or who will soon be coming to the dōjō.
We bow before we step onto the mats, as part of the opening ceremony  we bow to the Shomen (place of honour), we bow to the Sensei (instructor), we bow to one another, we bow when we start to practice a kata by ourselves or to each other for a kumite or practice drill.
At the end of class, as part of the closing ceremony we bow to the Sensei and to the Shomen and one another, and again as we leave the mats and as we leave the training room.

Even outside the dōjō , when meeting a fellow student we would bow when we say hello or goodbye. If you meet your teacher or other instructor in a public place outside the dōjō you would bow.
It seems we spend a lot of time bowing, and the reason for it is because it is a symbol of respect and trust.
We were told we bow to show respect to our God, our country, our founder, our Sensei, to our training partners, and everyone who has come before.
Karate is a contact sport and our partners need to responsible for each other for each other’s safety and well being. Partners need each other to   learn and to progress.  Partners must demonstrate respect, a proper mindset, and a proper attitude when training. Bowing is your way of expressing your respect to others. After the exercise we bow thanking each other for not violating the trust and respect.
Bowing is also a form of meditation of sorts, you must have presence in bowing, you must be present in the time, in the moment. If it is done in sincerity, it is correct. If it is done absent-mindedly, it is incorrect. It is a good thing even if you have to rush to the bathroom to bow sincerely because it trains you in the right attitude and to keep your composure even in case of an emergency.


Kyuzo Mifune’s Dojo Rules

Dojo Rules

by Kyuzo Mifune,

· 1. Have no falsehood in mind. Reluctance or deceit are not conducive to the inner harmony required by Judo practice.

· 2. Do not lose self-confidence.Learn to act wholeheartedly, without hesitation. Show reverance toward the practice of Judo, by keeping your mind in it.

· 3. Keep your balance. The center of gravity follows the movement of the body. The center of gravity is the most important element in maintaining stablility. If it is lost, the body is naturally unbalanced. Thus, fix your mind so that your body is always in balance.

· 4. Utilize your strength efficiently. Minimize the use of strength with the quickest movement of body. Acknowledge that what is called stillness and motion is nothing but an endlessly repeated process.

· 5. Don’t discontinue training. Mastery of Judo cannot be accomplished in a short time. Since skills depend on mental and physical application, constant training is essential.

· 6. Keep yourself humble. If you become self-centered, you will build a wall around yourself and lose your freedom. If you can humble yourself in preparation for an event you will surely be better able to judge and understand it. In a match, you will be able to detect the weak point of your opponent and easily put him/her under control.