Etiquette is an intrinsic part of the discipline of Aikido; it is an expression of the Japanese roots of the art and of common courtesy. The essence of etiquette is the sincerity with which it is practised. Etiquette is a reflection of your spirit and your attitude toward Aikido, O-Sensei and your fellow students.
The following is not a comprehensive list of “rules”, but guidelines that will help you in your practice. Observe the senior students in the dojo and copy. If you have any questions, they will be happy to answer them.
- Ensure that you arrive on time for class. Students should be ready and lined up outside the dojo at least five minutes before the start of class.
- Make a short standing bow towards the Shomen (the area to the front of the dojo) when entering or leaving the dojo. This is a sign of respect for the dojo and the Founder.
- When you are ready for practice, step onto the mats and make a formal bowfrom seiza towards the Shomen.
- If you arrive after the instructor has stepped onto the mats, wait at the edge of the mats until given permission by the instructor to come onto the mats.
- Make a bow to your partner before beginning to practise, and at the completion of each practice with that partner.
- It is appropriate for beginners to seek out advanced students and ask them to practise. A visitor or yudansha should never have to look for a partner.
- Conversation should be kept to a minimum whilst on the mats and should be focused on the practice.
- When the instructor offers personal instruction to you or your partner, assume seiza and pay close attention. After instruction, students and observers express thanks with a formal bow to the instructor from seiza.
- If you or your partner should collide with another person during practice, make sure the student is not injured and apologise.
- If you need to adjust your gi or hair during class, go to the edge of the mats and face away from the practice and the Shomen. Politely bow to your partner as you leave and when you return.
- If you must leave the mats during class, get permission from the instructor and bow to the Shomen when you step off, or re-enter the mats. If you know you will have to leave the class early, obtain permission from the teacher prior to the start of the class.
- In closing the class students should straighten their gis at the edge of the mats, facing away from the Shomen, then form a straight line in seiza. The class then bows to O-Sensei, and then to the instructor. After the instructor leaves the mats, students bow to each partner practised with during the class.
- Practice Aikido with a clean body and a clean, neatly repaired gi. For the sake of etiquette and safety, keep nails well trimmed and do not wear jewellery or hair pins on the mats. Long hair should be kept tied back and make-up not worn.
- Wear zori (sandals) between the changing rooms and the edge of the mats. You should step out of your zori and directly onto the mats: this helps to prevent dirt being tracked onto the mats.
- Gis should be carried in a bag, and all weapons should be concealed in a carrying case whilst being transported to and from the dojo.