The 4th Dojo Kun, is “Hitotsu! Reigo o omonzuru koto!” This translates to “Honour the Principles of Etiquette!” We short form it even more to simply, “Respect Others!”
Respect is a very important thing in the martial arts. We are supposed to respect our Sensei, respect our seniors and respect our juniors. Sometimes this is overlooked and people forget to show respect. It might be something as simple as not properly greeting the Sensei by saying Osu and bowing when they enter the dojo or it could be using inappropriate language or making inappropriate contact with someone.
“Respect is something you earn,” is what I was once told but this is not the case. Respect should be given to everyone you meet. You should show respect to people no matter what but they can lose that respect. Never let people walk all over you that is not what the martial arts is about. You are practising to defend yourself, so you should have the right to do that but remember word are not a reason to attack someone.
Whenever, you enter a dojo the first thing you have to remember is you are about to train with others. Now think of your job, your family, your friends, etc. Everyone has people in their lives that they love to death but can not stand to be around for too long. It could be that they are annoying, disrespectful, arrogant, etc. This is the same in a dojo, these are truly all strangers to you. Yes, you may have trained with them for years but they go to their homes and you go to yours after a day in the dojo. They are part of your karate family but you do not have to go home with them. Each dojo, like each family, will have different kind of people. For the few hours a week that you will be with them, you have to learn to understand and deal with their quirks. Don’t take their actions too personally. However, the same is also true in reverse. Every single person in a dojo has to learn to curb their behaviour. You have to act in a manner that is socially acceptable. Training in a dojo, to some degree, is a social event. You are working with others to develop your skills. Without the assistance to everyone in the dojo, your skill level will not improve. Some think that only the sensei can teach you but this is not true. I have learned so many things from white belts it is surprising. Never underestimate what someone can teach you.
Etiquette seems to get overlooked so much.
- Don’t be late for class! How is this disrespecting others? Well, those that arrive early for class are often forced to wait for people to show up. This takes away from their training time. By showing up late for class, you are disrespecting everyone that has held up their training time for you.
- Always bow and say Osu throughout your training. Rei means bow! Now look at the 4th Dojo Kun again, “Reigo o omonzuru koto!” What is the first word? Reigo! Reigo means the things associated with Rei. So bowing is a key component to this maxim.
- Never us inappropriate language. There are words that should obviously never be spoken in a dojo. But also telling someone to shut up or that they are stupid is also not acceptable. Even if you think that you are doing it jokingly. Other might not take it the same way that you do.
- Appropriate touching. There is a lot physical contact in martial arts and you have to understand what is appropriate and what is not. There are obvious areas that you should never touch also remember that their are children in classes and you have to be very careful with your contact. That is why the idea of non-contact training is so important.
- Do not try to tell your seniors what to do. It is not your place to correct anyone unless you are the instructor or one of the assistants. Your job is to learn. Now if you are in a group working on a specific thing, ie bunkai, the highest rank will be the one to look to for answers. The person with that rank may not know the activity so the next highest rank may be called on to explain.
- Remain in your ranks. What I mean by this is that it is not your job to walk across a dojo to correct someone. Even if they are not doing something correctly. If you are not the instructor, it is not your job.
- Interject only when asked. Don’t try to teach the class is you are only a student. Don’t interject your thoughts or ideas unless asked. I have experienced this when teaching. Some students have tried to explain things over me.
- Respect your Sensei. Don’t speak when they are teaching and follow their instruction.
- Control your temper. You are training in an art that can be very dangerous. Refrain from Violent behaviour.
- When lining up, do so quickly, no talking or carrying on.
There are so many more points of etiquette to follow but what is listed above are very important. If you follow these, you should be doing very well.
Without respecting each other in the dojo, you are creating an environment that could become very dangerous. We are, essentially, all trained fighters. It would not be a pretty sight if an actual fight broke out in a dojo.
I have written before about dojo etiquette but many people must not have read it. I still see so many not following the etiquette of training. We can not allow people to disrespect our art. Yes we can not take thing too seriously but without respect, we will ultimately slip into chaos.