Dojo Etiquette - Children

The dojo is the hall in which you train, refine your skills and understanding of the Art. A deeper meaning is 'the place where you forge your spirit'. As such, it should be cared for and respected.

Master Funakoshi, the founder of our Art, used to have 5 dojo rules which were called the dojo kun as shown below.


Translated into English, they mean:

  • Each seek perfection of character
  • Each be faithful (protect the way of truth)
  • Each endeavour (foster the spirit of effort)
  • Each respect the rules of etiquette
  • Each refrain from violent behavior (guard against impetuous courage)

Dojo etiquette is an essential and core aspect of their training and, as such, is non-negotiable in concept and one that we expect any student (who wishes to be taught the Art) to accept.


    • Parents and friends - Are they allowed to watch/be present? Most traditional dojos do not permit this, believing that the training environment should be free from all types of distraction. However, we currently do allow parents/carers this privilege, on condition that they adhere to the following principles:

    • - They remain silent throughout the training and do not communicate in any way to their child during the training.

      - They ensure that there are no disruptions to the flow of the class (e.g. from ringing mobile phones etc).

      - They tidy up after themselves, e.g. putting chairs etc. away after their use.

  • Appearance - Change from your street clothes and put on a training uniform (a karate gi +/- hakama if possible). This will help you shed outside concerns and focus on the current task (karate-do training). Make sure your clothing is well ironed and your appearance is well groomed. Those students who come in crumpled/unironed/dirty clothes may not be permitted to train.

  • Dress Code in the dojo - No shoes, jewellery or wrist/ankle/neck items are permitted (e.g. watches) except for medical reasons (in which case the items should be covered in such a way that they are not loose/exposed). It is expected that:

      - Boys wear such clothing that at least covers them from their mid-shins to the belly button.

      - Girls wear such clothing that at least covers them from their ankles to the neck (e.g. by wearing a t-shirt under their gi).

      - If you must wear headscarves etc. for religious reasons, that is fine. But the clothing on your body must be loose, to permit freedom of body movement when performing martial arts training/techniques.

  • Preparing the dojo - It is the responsibility of the student body to prepare the dojo for their karate-do and kobudo studies/training prior to the teacher entering the dojo. The senior assistant or, in their absence, the senior-most student is responsible for co-ordinating/overseeing the student body in this endeavour. In the case of a children's class, the parents are expected to actively participate in this dojo preparation exercise.

  • Entering the dojo - When coming onto or leaving the practice mat/dojo, bow to the front of the dojo (or if the teacher/senior is present bow to the teacher or the senior who is teaching). This expresses your intent to concentrate fully on karate-do training, and provides an opportunity to remind yourself to be grateful for the chance to train in karate-do.

  • Arriving late

  • Should you still attend the class?

    If you are late, at no point will there be a blame culture in this dojo.  We all have days where life is hectic - that is life!  However, the validity of the reasons why a student is late is not in question here.  We are well aware that students sometimes have perfectly valid and understandable reasons why they are late for a particular lesson.  However, our first and foremost concern must be the welfare of the students themselves.  If a student is late to the point where they have missed a significant portion of a lesson and, more importantly, their taiso (health exercises) then there is a significant risk of injury through training without adequate warming up of their body/joints/muscles.  We will not permit any student of ours to take such a risk with their body.  In such a scenario we will accept their reasons for the lateness but politely decline their request to train - allowing them to watch instead.  The wise and patient student will understand and accept their teacher's reasons without question realising that any decision that a good teacher makes is always and unequivocally in their own best interests as a student.  Indeed they would also realise that there is merit even in the latter exercise of learning through watching the lesson (even if they are not physically practising).

    We leave it to the discretion of parents to decide whether or not it is worth sending their children to the dojo if they are running late, in full awareness that there is a possibility they may not be permitted to train from a safety point of view.   In making this decision we would ask parents to remember that, as stated above, there is still some merit in watching a lesson even if a student is not permitted to actively take part.  Also their efforts to attend the lesson will also be duly noted in their 'continuous assessment'.

    Will you be allowed to train?

    The chief administrator has the power to decline a student's training request on administrative grounds alone, e.g. non-payment of fees, invalid licence/insurance to train etc.  A student in this situation is entitled to appeal to the discretion of the chief instructor or deputy chief instructor (under the regulations).  The chief instructor (CI) or deputy chief instructor (DCI) alone may override the chief administrator's decision.  If such an appeal is made, the student should wait patiently in seiza at the edge of the dojo (however long it may take) until such time as the CI/DCI has the opportunity to divert his/her attention away from whatever they are doing (e.g. teaching the class) to attend to the student's request.  Please note: ONLY the CI or DCI may override the administrator's decision.  All other instructors/assistant instructors do not have this latitude as the club's overall licence and insurance policy only recognises the CI/DCI's authority in this respect.  If the CI or DCI is not present at a particular lesson, the student must accept the decision of the chief administrator as final.

    The final decision to allow/not allow a student to enter the dojo, provided they are not prevented from doing so on administrative grounds, is always left to the discretion of the teacher teaching on that particular occasion as he/she is ultimately responsible for the Art that they teach.  Teachers who teach under the club's authority will always exercise latitude in making such a judgement.  We would ask all parents to respect/accept this decision with humility and grace, recognising the teacher's wisdom and authority in such matters.

    What is the normal etiquette if you are late?

    - If you are running late a simple text message (or phone call) to the club administrator mobile (07825 883 156) indicating this on the day is the simplest courtesy that we (as instructors) expect of all parents/adult students.

    - Offer your apologies and explain why you are late.

    - If a student arrives late, it is proper etiquette to wait standing just outside the mat or edge of the dojo quietly, until the teacher invites you to join in. Once you enter onto the mat or into the dojo, you should kneel at the back of class, close your eyes and meditate for a few moments to calm your mind to prepare for class.

    - If you arrive late for line-up, but before the teacher has come onto the mat or into the dojo, you should take your place in line after the white belts so as not to disturb the class.

  • Other important aspects of etiquette deal with more commonplace concerns. Please remember to pay your dues on time . It is easy in our enjoyment of karate-do to sometimes forget our responsibilities to karate-do, and to our instructors.


  • Respect the dojo - Take off your hat and shoes, put out any cigarettes, dispose of chewing gum, turn off radios, and stop any other distracting practices that might interfere with Karate-do training. Visitors are also expected to observe these guidelines for conduct.

  • Behaviour towards teachers and assistant teachers/senior students

      - Do not sit in the presence of the teacher or assistant, unless given permission to do so.

      - Do not raise your voice above that of the teacher or the assistant.

      - It is very poor etiquette to question a teacher's or assistant's authority or technical knowledge, and especially so during a class. If you are confused about something, ask respectfully. Don't insist on your point of view.

      - When Sensei is instructing the class, or if you wish to listen to an explanation given to another student in practice, you should kneel politely in seiza. When corrected by Sensei or another senior student, bow and say "Osu!".

  • Behaviour towards students

      - When you greet a fellow student or an instructor, greet them with respect by bowing and saying "Osu! ". This is customary in the practice of Japanese Budo.

      - Always begin and end your training with your partner by bowing to each other.

      - Never shout, curse, or become angry on the mat or the dojo.

      - Talking on the mat or in the dojo during class is impolite and interferes with the concentration of other students. When discussion is necessary, keep it brief and quiet.

  • Starting the class
    • - When the class is ready to begin, before the teacher enters the dojo, all students should line up sitting in seiza in a straight line. The person sitting to your right should be of equal or higher rank; the person to your left, equal or lower rank.

      - The highest ranking student will command " Moku so." This means to close your eyes and prepare yourself mentally for class. The same student will then say " Moku so yame " (open your eyes) and " Shomen ni rei " (bow to the front), and then " Sensei ni rei " (bow to Sensei).

  • Leaving/entering the dojo during a class - During the class, any student wishing to leave the mat or to practice something other than what the class is practising, must first ask the permission of the instructor.


  • Etiquette for students

    - When the class is ending, you should quickly line up before the instructor sits. Remain in the dojo until the instructor has left the mat.

    - After the class you should find your partners and bow to each of them, thanking them for training with you.

    - If the dojo is no longer required (e.g. for another class after your one), then the student body should dismantle and tidy up the dojo.

    - Always leave the dojo with rei.

  • Etiquette for parents/carers.
  • - Parents/carers should put away any chairs etc. that they have used and also ensure there is no debris left behind prior to their departure.

    The 3 Golden Rules of Training for Children in Our Dojo

    • Karate ni sente nashi (there is no first attack in karate) - if you attack other children (either inside or outside the dojo) or abuse your skills, you will be asked to leave the club and the club coaches will refuse to teach you.

    • Karate begins and ends with courtesy - rude behaviour will not be tolerated.

    • When the sensei says "yame" (i.e. stop), you stop EVERYTHING that you are doing.

    All children are asked to adhere to these 3 rules if they wish to join the club.