Dojo Rules & Attitudes

One of the most obvious of the Courtesies in Karate is bowing. This is usually the first show of courtesy or respect a new student notices.

Bow when entering or exiting the Dojo. Upon entering the dojo we bow to show our respect to the Dojo (place of learning) and the art we study, upon leaving we bow to show our gratitude for the knowledge we have received that day. Bowing is a sign of respect and is a moment to reflect upon how fortunate we are to be able to train and brings us into respectful interaction with the dojo.  On crossing the threshold into the dojo we are leaving behind the other aspects of our life and entering a workplace that requires attention, concentration and dedication.

Classes begin and end with a formal Bow.

Students should always bow to a higher belt when approaching or addressing them in the Dojo.

When the sensei enters the dojo the senior student on the floor should bring all attendees to attention. Then all should face the Sensei and bow. Your art survives only by the effort and will of the Sensei’s. They have demonstrated that they posses the talent knowledge and determination to reach that level. The art of karate dates back over 1500 years and each Sensei carries with them that history. Without them you could not be studying this art today.

If you are teaching and a higher-ranking black belt comes into the dojo, stop the class and have everyone bow to them. It is also proper at this time to offer them the option to teach the class. Whatever the response, go along with them and treat them with the respect their rank deserves.

Never argue with a higher belt. All disagreements and improprieties should be brought to Sensei. He will deal with them.


The Dojo

Remove shoes before entering the Dojo training area.

Be sure feet are clean.

Keep the Dojo neat and clean.

Repair and\or replace any damage you may do.

Remove all rings and jewelry before class.

Strive to assist your dojo where and when you can.


 Line-up at the beginning and end of class
Line up in order of belt level with white belts on the left and black belts on the right.  This “hierarchy” has a purpose.  When standing in the line think of those to your left (higher rank than yourself) and acknowledge to yourself the effort those students must make to advance within the Martial Arts and resolve to assist them in their efforts.  Think of those to your right (lower rank than yourself) and acknowledge to yourself the effort those students have made and are continuing to make and resolve to learn from their example.


Uniforms or Gi

Student must have a gi by their first grading.

The Gi should always be washed and clean.

Full top and bottom should be worn in every class.

Never put anything on your gi that has not been approved by your sensei. 


When the Sensei enters the testing area all students testing will form a straight line, the senior student will bring them to attention and then bow to the Sensei a wait for further instruction. When your name is called, step to the designated area, face the sensei or grading panel and bow. After bowing stand in the ready position and wait for instructions. If during the exam you make a mistake, face the Sensei, bow and ask permission to repeat the material, Whatever the answer, bow.

When your test is complete, face the sensei and bow before you leave the testing area. When you receive the results of your exam there will be a formal bow. (Under no circumstance ever argue about the results of your grading.)

Instructing Others

A student instructing others must never show a technique or concept to another student without explicit consent of the Sensei.

Never give demonstrations or teach others outside the dojo without the full and explicit consent of the Sensei.

If you have been given permission by Sensei to teach others always show then the same courtesy and respect that is expected from the lower ranks. After all they are learning from you. Never bark instructions, Rather say “Line Up!!!!” “please” You can never use good manners too much.



Sparring is not a competition between you and an opponent but rather a friendly exchange between you and a fellow dojo member where winning and loosing are not a consideration. The purpose is to practice and exchange technique and learn from the experience. (When a student is intent on winning they will rely on what they do best and learn nothing from the experience.) The desire to win is ego based and generally results in poor control and unwanted injuries. We are not studying Karate to be injured or injure others. You must always keep your ego under control.

When beginning a Sparring session, Bow

When ending a sparring session, Bow.

When a clean technique, performed with good form scores, acknowledges the “point”, stop, and bow to each other and resume sparing.

Sparring, although not the most important part of the Martial Arts, is required as part of your training. You should NEVER spar without supervision and or permission from the Sensei each time.

When sparing NEVER throw a technique to the knee or elbow joints. This kind of attack can permanently cripple a student. Always be concerned with safety above all else. 

Attitude toward your Sensei

Your Sensei is your source of knowledge. If you have a truly qualified one be grateful. In a traditional school 4th Dan is the teachers certificate and takes a minimum of twenty years to obtain. All levels above Shodan may be considered instructors. If given permission to instruct by a fourth dan (Sensei) and even then they must be supervised by their sensei and continue their own learning under him.

Your Sensei should be treated with respect. If he tells you something about your art, you should believe it, for they have traveled a path that you have yet to travel.

O’ Sensei Kim use to put it this way. “If a man crosses a mine field and arrives at the other side safely and you wish to cross the same mine field is it not in your best interest to follow exactly in his foot steps?

You are extremely lucky to have a qualified Sensei. The old saying that familiarity breeds contempt is true. Don’t let this happen to you with your teacher. The friendlier you become with your sensei the luckier you should feel and the more respect you should show. Loyalty to your teacher is a must in the martial arts. Without loyalty, there can be no respect or trust.


Attitude toward your Dojo
“Dojo” in Japanese means “Place where you study the Way” or “School”; your attitude should be to feel that it is a place of learning and should be treated with respect. It is custom that the Dojo be maintained and cleaned by the students. It should not be defaced or horsed around in and you’re behavior should always show respect and self-discipline.


Attitude in class

In a formal class, you should act as proper and respectful as possible. You should concentrate on what your teacher is trying to teach. Put total effort into everything you do in the class. Taking it easy in class is self-defeating and you will never achieve the desired result. Never drop out of a workout or stop in the middle of a class unless you feel you are going to be ill. If you do feel it necessary to stop you should face your teacher and bow, ask permission to leave the floor and go sit down and watch the class.

When you feel better, again bow and rejoin the class. This is not to be tough on anyone but rather to encourage the student to go the extra mile and become stronger mentally and physically for it.

If you have a question in class, wait until there is a break in the action, Try not to disturb the flow of the workout. Keep your question in mind until there is an opportunity.

Never bow out or leave the floor without the Sensei’s permission.


Attitude toward higher-ranking students.
Higher ranking students should always be treated with respect. They have earned it as one day you will have. You should show extreme respect to all Black Belts weather you like them or not. Remember there are good black belts, average black belts and poor black belts just as there are good doctors, average doctors, and poor doctors. The fact remains that they are black belts and doctors.


Attitude toward yourself

To work hard in the Martial Arts and gain ability requires a measure of tenacity. The path at times can seem hard or even impossible. Only determination and resolve will get you through these periods. If you do, you will become physically stronger. But more importantly you will grow mentally and develop a sense that you can succeed at anything with patience, determination and hard work. To do this you must have some measure of ego (pride and self respect are ego based characteristics) The trick is to be in control of your ego and not the reverse. No mater how skilled you become or how high you rank always strive to remain humble and keep you ego in check.

As long as you study, you will be a student no matter what your rank. Even if you become a teacher, you are still the student of your teacher. Learning never ends. Here is a famous martial arts saying that describes this ideal.

“When a young man receives his black belt he will climb to the mountain tops and proclaim it to the world.

When he receives his 2nd Degree Black Belt he will hold a party and invite all his friends.

When he receives his 3rd Degree Black Belt he will walk quietly in crowds hoping not to be noticed.”


General Attitude
Always try to be the best person that you can. Always try to be concerned with other people’s feelings. Life is sometimes hard and things don’t always go the way you want them to. In order to survive happily or sainely you must accept reality and go on from there. Do not accept it grudgingly, but accept it as the natural order and proceed with life.

Everyone in the Martial Arts that wears a Black Belt should constantly strive to be a living example of the their dojo and art (including it’s philosophy and precepts). This will encourage the lower ranks to follow suit. You must practice what you preach, if you cannot live up to the belt you wear you shouldn’t be wearing it. Never set a poor example for others.

All the rules of human respect cannot possibly be covered here. The purpose is to give the student a general understanding of Traditional Karate Training procedure and attitude. But most of all, to give the student a little knowledge of the proper way to conduct them selves in and out of the Dojo. Use these words to guide you. Humility, Compassion, Honour, Loyalty, Patience and Gratitude.