(Customs & Courtesies)
• Build a training environment
that fosters cherished traditions of Shorin-Ryu Customs & Courtesies
• Create a training atmosphere to make best use of the art
and science of Shorin-ryu
• Generate respect for all Dojo members
• Rebuke the fostering of Dojo member malice
• Practice traditional civility and considerations for chartered
information is meant to guide the student through some common procedures
and rules of etiquette, which will hopefully enable the student
to better understand the atmosphere of the karate dojo. This list
is by no means complete. Always check with your particular Instructor
to see what other rules or conditions might apply.
• SEMPAI is an Assistant
Karate Instructor and is appropriately addressed.
Usually refers to a Karate Instructor with 1st Dan status. Only
a SENSEI or above can recommend appointment and only a SHIHAN can
• SENSEI is a Karate
Instructor and is appropriately addressed.
SENSEI is a term used in many different ways and has many different
meanings. A Sensei could also be a school teacher, doctor, master,
or priest. To a martial artist, a Sensei is a Karate Instructor
and is appropriately addressed as such. He/she is usually holds
a 2nd or 3rd Dan but this term is often used by senior martial artists.
In other words, just as a college professor is a teacher, a Hanshi
too is a Sensei. A Sensei is the first licensed formal teaching
rank but this term is informally used from formal positions of Shihan
to Hanshi. Therefore, according to general martial arts traditions,
a Sensei is any person, usually 2nd dan or higher that teaches martial
arts. In our system he or she is awarded this status when receiving
2nd or 3rd Dan. Requirement - A SHIHAN recommends and only a Renshi
or above can approve appointment.
• SHIHAN is an intermediate
or advanced SENSEI and is appropriately
addressed. SHIHAN is a "Supervisor of Sensei's"
who has mastered himself." It is the second licensed formal
teaching rank. In our system he or she is awarded this status when
receiving the 4th or 5th Blackbelt level. Requirement - A RENSHI
recommends and only a KYOSHI or above can approve appointment.
• RENSHI often refers
to an Executive Advanced SENSEI and is
appropriately addressed. It is the third formal teaching
rank. Renshi means "Executive SENSEI" who has mastered
himself." It is the third formal teaching rank. It is awarded
around the 5th degree godan or 6th degree rokudan black belt level.
Requirement - A KYOSHI recommends and only a HANSHI can approve
• KYOSHI refers to
a “Chief Executive SENSEI” and
is appropriately addressed. It is the fourth licensed
formal teaching rank. This title is usually awarded to one who has
achieved a rank of 7th or 8th degree black belt nanadan or hachidan.
KYOSHI are typically regarded as those who have distinguished themselves
as expert teachers or instructors. Only a Hanshi can approve appointment.
or sometimes refers to the “Honorable Chief
Executive of SENSEI” and is appropriately
addressed. It is the fifth and final formal instructor
rank. This title is usually conferred at the 9th (kyudan) or 10th
dan (jyudan) ranking, by the senior leader or leadership of the
organization. This title is given to the most senior licensed Sensei
who is distinguished as the Grandmaster (Hanshi Hawkins).
Times to Nei (Rei)
• Anytime a karate-ka
first see’s any Blackbelt
• When karate-ka enters or leaves the Dojo
• Whenever directly speaking to a Blackbelt
• At the beginning and the end of each training session at
the command of the Sensei. This bow is performed Heisoku Dachi (feet
positioned together while standing) and seiza or hizamazuke (formal
knelling position consisting of crossing one's own lower legs, with
the feet under the buttocks, feet pointed straight backwards or
crossed. To sit in seiza for any length of time requires careful
positioning of the heels under the sit bones of the hip, to minimize
• Nei before/after the karate-ka demonstrates a kata, technique,
• When accidental contact is made by you against your training
• Whenever directly spoken to by the Sensei
Why & How to
• Traditional Nei –
1. Standing- The purpose
of this bow is not to demonstrate respect for the person but rather
to demonstrate respect for the esteemed and honored position of
the Blackbelt or reverence for the Dojo. This bowing technique is
used in a Dojo setting. Stand with heels together, feet pointing
slightly outward (like a "V"). Keep your knees straight;
elbows straight and relaxed; hands open and resting on your outer
thighs, fingers together. Bend at the waist, about 20 degrees forward,
and then straighten back up. The whole bow takes about a breath's
length. Look the Blackbelt directly in the eyes while your left
hand (peace) positioned over your right hand (power), feet position
are together, with a medium bend of the waist.
2. Kneeling (Seiza) -
Place your left knee on the floor, then the right knee. Sit down
on your heels, toes pointing backwards. Your big toes should overlap,
with either on top. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
Rest your left hand (opened with the fingers together) on your left
thigh and your right hand on your right thigh so that your fingers
point inward. For anatomical reasons, men should have about a fist
or two's width between their knees, while women should have their
knees together. Slide the left hand from the thigh to the floor
slightly in front of the left knee. Then do the same with the right
hand. Palms should touch the floor. Bow at the waist, taking a little
longer than for a standing bow. The forehead comes close to the
floor, but does not touch it. Straighten up and return the right
hand then the left to your thighs.
Dojo Etiquette (Do's
and Don'ts in the Dojo)
• The dojo is a “Temple for learning”, so respect
• All karate-ka will remove shoes prior to entering
the Dojo training area. Karate practice is traditionally
done in bare feet, so upon entering the dojo, all students should
remove their shoes. At the entrance to the dojo, each student should
also bow towards the front of the room, whether you're entering
or exiting. This bow is intended to show respect for the training
area and, when entering, a readiness to focus on karate during the
upcoming training session
• Karate-ka will insure that the Dojo is clean and in proper
order both before and after training sessions. If you have some
time before class begins, you may do individual warm-ups as you
choose. Run in place. Stretch. Practice kata. Basically, anything
that will help prepare you for the class. If you are going to chat
with other students, do it while you're warming up. This is also
often the time to make sure the dojo floor has been cleaned, unless
the dojo incorporates the floor cleaning into the warm-up. If it's
simply a matter of sweeping or dry-mopping the floor, do it before
training begins, and, ideally, before one of the senior belts asks
you to. If you see other students sweeping or cleaning, try to assist
if you can. If there is more than one dust mop, help sweep. If not,
pick up loose papers, bottles, or other trash. Don't just sit around
if there is still something that needs to be done.
• No chewing gum, eating, smoking, or drinking, even
water during training sessions. An exception to drinking
water is for exceptional health reasons. Please inform the Sensei
or any Blackbelt if exceptional health reasons dictate the drinking
of water. The reason for the disallowance of drinking water for
purpose of hydration is to do so, ignores the reality of fighting
readiness competition or street fighting. It is farcical to expect
a water break during “real competition or street fighting”,
for that reason we believe what you do in the Dojo is likely what
you’ll do in outside the Dojo or on the streets.
• No wearing of jewelry (including wedding bands) during training
sessions. It's a safety hazard!
• No "Horse Play" and no profanity while in the
• Senior karate-ka will insure junior karate-ka practice Dojo
Customs & Courtesies at all times.
• Senior karate-ka
will consider it an obligation to assist junior karate-ka.
• Spectators are not to be allowed in the training area/Dojo
without the Sensei's permission. A senior karate-ka should greet
all visitors and ascertain their desires prior to bringing them
to the attention of the Sensei. The Sensei will relay his permission,
or non-permission through the senior student.
• No Kumite is allowed without the Sensei's permission, which
must be sought prior to engaging in such.
• Karate-ka Gi’s will only be a traditional “open
jacket style” (not V-neck) white in color. No colored uniforms.
No ornate stripes on uniform.
• Blackbelt Gi’s will only be black unless otherwise
authorized by Hanshi Hawkins.
• Arrive to the Dojo on time. If late perform 20 push-ups.Obviously,
try not to be late. If you are late, bow in at the door when you
enter. Then, quietly kneel near the entrance. Wait until the instructor
acknowledges you. When that happens, bow kneeling, get up, and quickly
join the group by moving into the back line. If you arrive just
as the class is about to bow in, wait quietly until the warm-up
starts, then bow in as described above as soon as you're ready.
• Keep in mind push ups is not a punishment; instead they
are simply a training exercise. When you hear the command, "Line
up," stand shoulder to shoulder facing the front of the dojo,
lining up in order of seniority. Try to line up so that the instructor
is right in the middle of the line. In a large class, the senior
student may ask you to form more than one line, in which case, you
should try to line up so that the lines are approximately the same
• The Dojo training formation is highest ranking members
to the front of the Dojo with the senior member positioned to the
very front line and left of the succeeding junior members
• Karate-ka will sit in agura-wo-kaku (the cross
leg position) with their backs to the wall
• Remember to kiai as loud as you can when performing
the appropriate striking technique
• Perform kumite, ippon kumite, and kata, with
• Have fun!
Decorum (Respect for Protocol)
• While in the Dojo, the Instructor should
be referred to as their appropriate title (i.e. Sempai,
Sensei, Shihan, Renshi, Kyoshi, and Hanshi).
• Only Avenger licensed Blackbelts are addressed
appropriately (refer to them by their title). Blackbelts
not of our system are addressed by their name only,
unless otherwise directed by the most senior Avenger
• Junior Karate-ka will never attempt
to correct senior karate-ka. If there is any
disagreement or misunderstanding from a junior karate-ka
involving a senior karate-ka they will request permission
to discuss the matter with the senior karate-ka in private.
• Karate-ka will not critique or judge
peer & senior karate-ka unless upon a request from
a Blackbelt. It is strongly discouraged, and
will not be tolerated, for karate-ka to critically give
opinions of other karate-ka. In the absence of any or
enough Blackbelts the senior Blackbelt may direct junior
karate-ka to judge Dojo kumite.
• Upon arrival to the Dojo and
removal of shoes, students will immediately commence
stretching, followed by practicing techniques to enhance
their skills. Sitting and gossiping while waiting, as
mentioned above, for the training session to begin will
not be tolerated.
• If a karate-ka has a non-urgent question wait
until the class is ended. Too many questions during
class may delay training time. Questions are encouraged
while “not knowing and not asking questions is
strongly discouraged”. If you don’t know
something, then ask, but again at an appropriate time.
• Upon arrival to the Dojo and removal of shoes,
students will immediately commence stretching, followed
by practicing techniques to enhance their skills. Sitting
and gossiping while waiting for the training session
to begin is strongly not tolerated.