The study and practice of Aikido consists of more than just learning techniques–proper behavior and manners are also an important part of the practice. The following is an introduction to some of the traditions within the dojo and the Aikido community at large. These practices are not intended to be rigid or arbitrary. They come from a long tradition of proper dojo behavior within the Japanese martial arts, and they are an important part of the culture of Aikido.
This list is not complete. Your best guide to proper behavior is to watch the instructors and senior students. Please ask questions if you are unsure of something.
The spirit of Aikdio
- Many people say onegai shimasu (please) when bowing to the instructor and to fellow students before beginning to practice. Less used in our dojo are the words for “thank you” after practice. These are domo arigato or domo arigato gozaimashita (thank you for something completed).
- Each member is responsible for care and maintenance of the dojo. This includes paying your dues promptly and making sure the dojo is kept neat and clean, without being prompted by the instructor.
- Always practice with a spirit of cooperation and respect for the instructor and your fellow students.
- Bowing is done in two ways. In the less formal standing bow, bend forward slightly from the hips with your hands at your sides or on your thighs. In the more formal sitting bow, kneel in seiza, place your hands on the mat in front of you, and bow low from the hips.
- Once aikido practice has begun, clear your mind of everything except the lesson given and the principles of Aikido. Practice with unity of mind and body.
Working with Others
- Your partner is not an opponent. Techniques are learned together as both nage (the thrower) and uke (the one being thrown). It should be a pleasure to be thrown as well as to throw. Each movement in Aikido teaches the principles and spirit of Aikido, and must be practiced sincerely.
- Care should be taken to be aware of your partner’s ability, so there are no injuries. Nage should always be watchful for signs that uke is in pain. Uke’s attacks should always be under full control, and nage should respond likewise. Uke’s job is to attack sincerely and follow nage’s movement while maintaining as safe a posture as possible. Nage’s jobs are 1) to move off the line of attack, 2) to redirect uke’s momentum with the technique being taught, and 3) to peacefully resolve the attack with the appropriate throw or pin.
- It is the responsibility of the sempai (higher ranked students) to see that the rules of the dojo are understood and followed by the members of the dojo. The sempai should assist the beginners in learning proper bowing, beginning exercises, and ukemi (falling).
Cleanliness and what (not) to wear
- If you wear glasses, be aware of the possibility that they may get damaged.
- Do not wear a watch or jewelry on the mat. Do not wear makeup or perfume on the mat. Keep your finger and toe nails trimmed short. Keep your gi (uniform) clean. Make sure your feet are clean before you get on the mat, and put on your zori if you step off the mat to ensure your feet are clean when you step back on the mat.