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Tradition and etiquette

Aikido is considered as one of the classic Japanese martial arts, also called budo or bujutsu. Budo simply means ‘the way of war’, and refers to a method of self-development based on traditional Japanese martial arts. The legacy from the samurai era is still expressed in several ways in today’s aikido, especially through etiquette. This regulates how we relate to each other in the dojo. It is central to budo and to Japanese culture in general, and it is an expression of respect. At the same time, it is important in martial arts to avoid aggression and injuries. You will find that some basic rules are seen in dojos all over the world, which means that wherever you travel you will be able to participate and know the ‘rules of the game’ even if you do not know the language.

The values in budo convey a lot more than how to behave in the dojo. It is about self-discipline and perseverance, and about not giving up in the face of adversity. It is about keeping an open and humble attitude, in order to learn from and understand the world around you. Lastly it is about finding harmonious solutions to conflict and regard a situation from different points of view..

During a grading, you are assessed not only according to technical skills, but also according to posture and mental attitude, perseverance and how you harmonize with the partner. It takes time to master aikido, and there are no shortcuts in personal development. The virtues of the samurai – courage, honour, benevolence, courtesy, sincerity, loyalty, and rectitude – are goals that can be pursued both inside and outside the dojo.

Common etiquette in an aikidodojo includes:

  • To do standing bow (rei) when entering the dojo, and sitting bow when stepping on the mat (tatami).
  • We start and end the training with a bow. At the beginning we say `onegai shimasu´ (polite form of ‘please’), and at the end `domo arigato gozaimashita´ (polite form of ‘thank you’).
  • We bow to the partner before and after we train.
  • We have respect for the instructor and follow the instruction attentively.
  • We sit in a formal position (seiza) or with legs crossed during instruction or when waiting in turn to train.
  • Wear a Japanese suit (keikogi/hakama) and maintain good personal hygiene.
  • Remove watches, jewellery and other items that may cause injuries
  • Avoid small talk during class.
  • We include and train with everyone on the mat, we adapt the training to the level of the person we are training with and do not correct the partner unnecessarily.
  • If you arrive late for training, stand at the edge of the mat, and wait for a signal from the instructor to join. If you must leave the mat, let the instructor know.
  • Do not bring food or drink on the mat – unless it is specifically set up for this.
  • Have a positive attitude and do your best.