Basic Martial Etiquette


In Aikido training, etiquette is as important as the study of physical techniques. Proper execution of the etiquette forms not only creates a good atmosphere in the dojo, but it also develops your intuition and awareness. Since Aikido is a Japanese martial art, the interactions between the teacher and the students, and among the students, will follow the Japanese form. You will not be expected to know all the etiquette forms in the beginning but you will be expected to learn them in a reasonable amount of time.

The DOJO: Aikido training takes place in a hall known as a dojo (place of the way). The dojo is considered a sacred place of learning; it must be kept clean and free of distractions. Behave no differently in a dojo than you would in a church or temple.

TRAINING PARTNERS: Training partners should always be approached with gratitude and respect. They are lending you the use of their bodies to enable you to gain the benefits of Aikido practice.

REI (bowing): Bowing is a very important aspect of Japanese culture. In Aikido, we bow to show respect, honour, and gratitude. There are two ways of bowing: from a kneeling position and from a standing position. The kneeling bow is considered more formal.

The kneeling bow is performed:

  • When first stepping onto the mats, and when finally leaving the mats
  • At the formal beginning and ending of class.
  • To your partner, when beginning and ending the practice of a technique.
  • To the instructor, after a demonstration.

The standing bow is performed:

  • When entering and leaving the dojo.
  • When temporarily leaving and returning to the mats.
  • After receiving personal attention from the instructor.

ETIQUETTE EXPRESSIONS: Common expressions and their approximate translations.

  • Domo arigato gozaimashita - "Thank you very much."
  • O-ne-gai shimasu - "Please show me your favour."
  • Sumi-masen - "I'm sorry" or "Please excuse me."