We try to practice in an energetic and light atmosphere, however, the traditional rules of etiquette are followed across all Aikido dojo in order to keep practice friendly, organised and safe.
Please note that rei/bowing is a traditional salutation and show of respect in Japan, as it was in Europe not so very long ago, and therefore bowing to a picture or statue of the founder of an art form or school is a sign of respect and appreciation for what they developed and passed on and holds no religious connotations. It is said that “everything begins with rei and ends with rei“, meaning that politeness and courtesy is the most important consideration, whatever you’re doing.
- Entering the Dojo:
Have your keikogi on and an obi tied PROPERLY (if you need help, ask your senpai). Just inside the door, perform a bow towards the photograph of Osensei. Go to the corner of the tatami and perform a kneeling bow, again, towards the photograph of Osensei.
- The Bow:
Remain seated on your heels. Place the left hand, then the right on the tatami in front of you so that the two thumbs and index fingers form a triangle.
- When the Sensei, or appointed instructor, enters the dojo, all members should line up in the sitting position facing the photograph of Osensei.
- Starting Class:
All bow with Sensei towards the photograph of Osensei, then return sensei’s bow, saying “onegaishimasu”. Follow their lead during warming-up exercises.
- During Class:
Perform a standing bow to your old and new partner. If the instructor should teach you and your partner individually, it is proper to perform a bow afterwards. While the instructor is working with your partner, kneel on the tatami.
- Make sure your keikogi remains tied properly during practice and that you remain adequately covered. It is recommended that women wear a plain white t-shirt under their keikogi and/or purchase a keikogi which has a lapel tie.
- Coming Late to Class – Leaving Early:
Wait before entering or leaving the dojo until the instructor is not demonstrating. Wait at the side of the tatami to ask sensei’s permission to come on the tatami. Perform the proper kneeling bow. When leaving early go to the Sensei and ask permission to leave the class. Perform the proper kneeling bow before leaving the tatami.
- Ending Class:
When indicated by Sensei, line up, in a straight line, as at the start of class. Bow with Sensei. It is polite to say “domo arigato gozaimashita”. Allow Sensei to leave the tatami first. It is also polite to thank your partners.
- Leave the Dojo:
Perform kneeling and standing bows in a similar manner to when entering the dojo but in reverse order.
- Wear zori to and from the tatami.
- Wash your keikogi at least once a week. Keep it in a good state of repair. Also make sure that finger and toenails are short and long hair is tied back. Keep a high standard of personal hygiene.
- Take pride in your dojo. Five minutes from each member before every practice will help to maintain the dojo in a clean, neat condition.
Aikido represents a vast, inclusive system. An essential part of that system is its martial aspect.
Advantage should not be taken of a partner’s openings in Aikido practice. They are pointed out during training only so that the student will become aware that they exist and can therefore protect himself from them.
Working with a partner should not be a test (conflict) of energies. Each individual (uke and tori) in all techniques, moves from the centre (seika tanden) and uniting becomes a singular controlled movement.
Aikido is a physical budo but should be accompanied by personality improvement and mental growth.
Knowing an aggressor will take advantage of any openings provided to them, the Aikidoka must eliminate openings and develop control of the opponent to avoid being hurt, at the same time without hurting them or allowing them to hurt themselves in the process.
At the HEADQUARTERS DOJO in TOKYO, the following RULES DURING PRACTICE are posted:
- One blow in Aikido is capable of killing an opponent. During practice, obey your instructor and do not make the practice period a time for needless testing of strength.
- Aikido is an art in which one person learns to face many opponents simultaneously. It therefore requires that you polish and perfect your execution of each movement so that you can take on not only the one opponent before you but also those approaching you from every direction.
- Practice at all times with a feeling of pleasurable exhilaration.
- The teaching of your instructor constitutes only a small fraction of what you will learn. Your mastery of each movement will depend completely on your own earnest practice.
- The purpose of Aikido is to train both the body and mind and to make a person sincere. All Aikido arts are secret in nature and are not to be revealed publicly nor taught to those who will use them for wrong purposes.*
*Of the foregoing rules, that which prohibits revealing the art to others without good reason was enforced until World War II.
After the war, the founder wished to introduce Aikido to all the world and allowed public demonstrations of the art.
In addition to these rules, the occasions when Aikido may be used are as follows:
- When one is in personal danger.
- When one sees others in danger.
- Even in the situations in which the use of Aikido is sanctioned, such sanctions are not absolute. Every effort must first be made, after calm thought, to settle matters peaceably. Only when such efforts are useless should the arts of Aikido be used.