Starting Karate: Information for New Students
Dojo Rules & Etiquette in Karate
As karate is a traditional martial art, there is etiquette to be followed.
- Your dogi, or simply ‘gi’ (karate uniform) must be white and clean. Only a plain white Gi may be worn, no trim or colours on the gi.
- You will be given a club crest, which must be sewn onto the left side, chest level on your gi.
- To prevent injury, the cuffs of the sleeves and pants must be properly shortened within the first few classes of the season. Women and girls must wear a plain white t-shirt under their gi.
- To avoid possible injury during sparring, your toe and fingernails must be cut short, and neither jewelry nor shoes may be worn during class. Chewing gum is also prohibited.
Bowing - Rei
- Anytime you enter or leave the dojo you must bow
(rei) to the front of the dojo, showing respect to the
place of training.
- Kneel – Seiza - During the formalities that start and
end a karate training session, you will line up, in order of
rank, with your sempai (seniors) to your right. The most
senior coloured belt will give the order to kneel formally
(seiza) and the class will then kneel.
Meditation - Mokuso
- The next command is ‘mokuso’ (meditate) at which point you close your eyes and try to clear
your mind so that you can clear the mind and prepare the body for the training session. The end of mokuso is brought about by the command ‘mokuso yame’ (stop meditation).
- There are then three formal bows, one to the front of the class (shomen ni rei) where ‘shomen’ to the front where there is a shinto shelf usually at traditional old Dojos in Japan. The second is to sensei (sensei ni rei) and the final is to any black belts or seniors who may be there (sempai ni rei, or otagai ni rei). With the command ‘tatte’, everybody stands.
- Should you come late to class, the proper procedure is to quietly kneel in seiza at the entranceway and bow, then stand, bow to sensei and line up at the back of the class. If you are late enough that you missed the warmup, be sure that you warm up and stretch before joining the class. Should you need to leave the class early, prior arrangements must be made with the Sensei.
- Please try and come to the dojo ten minutes early to help with set up as necessary. This time promotes teamwork. Being late regularly is not acceptable as it reflects disrespect to your Shihan, Sensei and colleagues.
- During a class, you should not talk or laugh or do anything that might disturb the concentration of your partner or the rest of the class. If you wish to ask a question during class, wait until the break that occurs after the demonstration of a technique to put your hand up. It is good to ask questions about what you are learning.
- Do not ask sensei whether or not we can do something else, play a game or go outside (children's class).
- Karate classes may to be fairly large so that some discipline
on the student’s part is essential for effective training. During
training, try to maintain straight lines with the sempai that heads
your row. After the command to relax (naore) your whole row
should immediately reform the straight line with the sempai.
The reason for this is that it is impossible for sensei to give
everybody individual attention. If uniformity is maintained it
is much easier for him to spot errors and give correction where
it is needed. The formal bows and bowing to each other during
training may seem a bit foreign at first, but it will soon become
quite natural. There is absolutely no implication in the bowing
of superiority or of subservience. One of the prime requirements
of karate is the display of respect, not only to sensei and the sempai
but to each other.