Cambridge Aiki Dojo


Entering the dojo (place of training)

Have your keikogi (training uniform) on (left over right for both sexes) and your obi (belt) tied properly; the ends should finish out to the sides.

If you are a beginner, you can wear tracksuit pants and a (long sleeve) T-shirt. Shorts and short-sleeve T-shirts are not ideal because of possible "mat burns".

Just inside the door, perform a standing bow towards the kamiza (the area in the dojo where the photograph of O Sensei is displayed).

Zori (sandals) must be worn to and from the tatami (practice mat). Step out of them and onto the tatami as a backwards step, thus leaving them ready for use when you leave the dojo.

Go to the corner of the tatami and perform a kneeling bow towards the kamiza.

How to perform the bow

Remain seated on your knees. 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. Bow the head, keeping the back straight, towards the tatami. The forehead should not touch the tatami, but remain about four inches above it.

Start of the class

When the sensei (teacher) enters the dojo all members should already be present and should be lined up in the "sitting" (kneeling) position with the senior graded students to the right hand side when facing the kamiza.

The sensei's entrance may be announced by the signal of a double handclap from a senior student. All class members will join the sensei in a bow to the kamiza, then return the sensei's bow saying "Onegaishimas" ("Please teach me").

Generally, warming up exercises will follow unless these have already been done prior to the sensei's arrival.

During the class

You should perform a standing bow to denote acceptance of a partner's offer of practice and to thank them for their practice when the technique is concluded.

If the sensei should instruct you or your partner individually, kneel on the tatami at a safe distance while the sensei is working with your partner, but be ready to participate. Both should perform a bow of gratitude to the sensei afterwards.

Make sure that your keikogi remains tied properly during practice, and that you remain adequately covered. If your clothing needs adjustment, excuse yourself and make the adjustment at the edge of the tatami, always facing away from the kamiza.

End of the class

When the end of the class is indicated by the sensei, line up in a straight line with the senior graded students to the right hand side when facing the kamiza as at the start of the class.

All class members will join the sensei in a bow to the kamiza. The sensei may then bow to any senior assistants first. The whole class will then return the sensei's bow saying "Domo arigato gozaimashita" ("Thank you for teaching me").

The sensei will leave the tatami first, the most senior student present will call for the whole class to bow to the kamiza by calling "Rei" ("Bow"). It is also polite to bow to the people who have partnered you during the class before rising.

Leaving the dojo

Perform kneeling and standing bows in similar manner to when entering the dojo, but in reverse order. Step into your prepared zori as you leave.

Other general Etiquette

Wash your keikogi at least once a week and keep it in a good state of repair.

Make sure that all finger nails and toe nails are short and that long hair is securely tied back.

Keep a high level of personal hygiene. Note that no jewellery of any kind should be worn in the dojo. Wedding rings etc., which cannot be removed, should be covered with adhesive plaster.

Take pride in your dojo and show respect when visiting others. Five minutes from each class member before practice will help maintain the dojo in a clean, neat condition.

Attitude to aikido

Aikido is a vast inclusive system. An essential part of that system is its martial arts aspect. Aikido is a physical budo, but should be accompanied by personality improvement and mental and spiritual growth.

Advantage should not be taken of your partner's openings during practice. They are pointed out during training only so that we become aware that they exist and may therefore protect ourselves.

Practice means working with a partner and should never be a contest or conflict of energies. Each individual, both uke and tori, moves from the centre in all techniques and uniting, becomes a singular, controlled movement.

In knowing that an aggressor will take advantage of any openings provided, the aikido student must eliminate such openings and develop control of the opponent to avoid being hurt. At the same time the aikidoka must control without hurting the opponent or allowing them to hurt themselves.

O Sensei sanctioned two occasions when aikido may be used, they were:

1. When one is in personal danger
2. When one sees others in danger

However, even in such a situation every effort must first have been made to settle matters peaceably and only when such efforts seems useless should the arts of aikido be used.

Recent Reminder
A recent reminder of etiquette here.