Training means training of body and spirit, and, above all else, one should treat his opponent courteously and with the proper etiquette.

—M. Nakayama (Best Karate)

Many of the “rules” of the dojo are learned simply by training and paying attention to the behavior of the senior students. Underlying all of these are the ideas of respect, discipline, and safety, which are all at the heart of karate. Therefore, remember that dojo etiquette has meaning, and following etiquette helps us build a culture of respect and build personal habits and behaviors that help us improve ourselves in and out of the dojo. Here are some of the rules of etiquette all students should follow. If you have a question about etiquette, ask an instructor or senior student.

Kohai and Sempai

  1. Junior students (kohai) are expected to look to seniors (sempai) for guidance, imitate their behavior, and treat them with respect. Sempai are expected to set examples of respect, discipline, character and control.
  2. Always address senior instructors as “Sensei.” (Sensei Jay, Sensei Saul, and Sensei Denise).
  3. Address your seniors as “Sempai.”
  4. Work with others to maintain a trusting, respectful, and peaceful atmosphere in the dojo.
  5. Acknowledge others when you first see them with a bow.

Parents and Visitors

  1. Parents and visitors are welcome to watch class in the seating area.
  2. Please do not talk to your child during class.  It is distracting to those training in the class. If there is any issue you feel needs to be addressed, please discuss with the instructor.

Uniforms and Belts

  1. Uniforms should be clean and neat.
  2. White, traditional style uniforms are required.
  3. No additional patches other than Enso patch (or approved patch)
  4. Uniforms should be hemmed or folded to about a 3⁄4 sleeve and pants at ankle level.
  5. Any rips or holes in uniforms should be repaired.
  6. Any shirts worn under uniforms should be plain white.
  7. If you need to fix your uniform, turn around first then quickly turn back.
  8. Never throw or drop your obi (belt), and never wash it. Your obi is a symbol of your spirit.
  9. Do not hang you belt around your neck or walk around the dojo half-dressed.
  10. Make an effort to fold your gi neatly.
  11. Except for training events outside the dojo, belts should not be worn outside the dojo. Gis without belts may be worn to and from class.
  12. Students who forget their uniform or belt for class should not expect to be provided a loaner. A white belt may be provided, depending on availability.

Cleanliness and Hygiene

  1. Practice good personal hygiene.
  2. Keep your hands and feet clean. Wash hands before and after class. Keep your fingernails and toenails trimmed without sharp edges. Band-aids and other first-aid supplies are available.
  3. Long hair should be tied back.
  4. Jewelry should not be worn in class.
  5. Avoid using strong scents, perfumes, or colognes.
  6. Take responsibility for the cleanliness of the dojo. Properly throw away your garbage. Arrange training equipment neatly.
  7. Arrange your shoes, coats, and bags neatly.
  8. If you see a situation that needs to be addressed, please attend to it. Use cleaning supplies if needed.

Arriving, Waiting for your Class, and Leaving

  1. Bow when entering or leaving the dojo. Direct your bow to the senior person present and acknowledge his or her presence with the greeting “Osu” (pronounced “oos”).
  2. Remove your shoes and place them neatly in a row on shoe racks or on the floor.
  3. Do not walk on the dojo floor with shoes on.
  4. Make a sincere effort to arrive on time or early to class. Students are expected to join the class on time.
  5. If you are late, let the instructor know why. If possible, inform the instructor ahead of time.
  6. If another class is in progress when you arrive, keep any distractions to a minimum. Try to keep a quiet and peaceful environment.
  7. If you arrive to class late, remain seated in seiza position until the instructor acknowledges you
  8. Once acknowledged, perform a seated bow, then walk behind other students and find an appropriate spot.
  9. If you missed the warm-up/stretching portion of class, take a few minutes to warm-up before joining the class.
  10. Bow when entering and leaving the training floor.
  11. Do not leave class without permission (even for water).
  12. If you feel ill, have an injury, or need to leave class for some reason, raise you hand and inform the instructor.
  13. Inform the instructor if you need to leave class early.
  14. No horseplay or play fighting anywhere in the dojo (This is how people typically get injured.)


  1. Avoid talking during warm-up. Get your mind prepared for training.

  2. During warm-up, follow the person leading mirror image. Stretch in the same direction as the leader, mirroring their movements.

Behavior During Class

  1. Maintain an attitude appropriate for serious practice.
  2. Pay attention. Learning how to maintain focus is part of your training.
  3. Don’t yawn, roll your eyes, or groan in class.
  4. Stand in a neutral position. Do not cross your arms.
  5. Don’t lean against the walls when standing by the edge of the dojo floor.
  6. If you are instructed to move more than two steps away, run to your spot.
  7. Do not walk in front of other students or the instructor.
  8. When asked, give criticism respectfully. Take criticism gracefully.
  9. Generally, students should not offer unsolicited feedback to senior students.
  10. There should not be any talking while practicing drills with your partner or group. Too much talking can be a distraction to the other students.
  11. Don’t talk back or give excuses to instructor comments.
  12. Disrespectful behavior or conversation will not be tolerated in the dojo.

Being a Good Training Partner

  1. You are always responsible for your partner’s safety.
  2. Monitor your own temper and stress level. One purpose of training is to learn how to manage one’s temper and handle stressful situations.
  3. Observe your partner for stress level. Try to diffuse it.
  4. When changing partners during class, you should acknowledge both the partner you are leaving as well as your new partner with a bow.
  5. A handshake and/or “thank you” is appropriate when leaving a partner.
  6. Part of your training (appropriate to age and level) is learning how to receive contact and to react to surprising and stressful conditions. If you are uncomfortable with the contact from your partner, you should let them know and ask them to change their level of contact.
  7. If your partner is not comfortable with your level of contact, respect their request.
  8. If you get hit hard or unexpectedly, work on controlling your reaction. Breathe deeply. Avoid displays of anger.
  9. Sempai have a higher level of responsibility for the safety of partners and the safety of others in the class. Do not hesitate to intervene in a situation if needed.


  1. Make a sincere effort to commit to training on a regular basis.
  2. Practice your kihon waza (basic techniques) and kata outside of class.
  3. If you have to stop training for period of time (usually months), it is courteous to wear a white belt when your return.
  4. If you ever visit another dojo, ask permission to train first.