Etiquette is vital to the practice of Aikido, first, because it is an intrinsic aspect of the culture that produced Aikido, and second, because through our behavior towards each other, we reflect the example of our teachers and the philosophy of our martial art. Remember: AIKI--HARMONY/SPIRIT. Aikido is unique to the martial arts in teaching that conflict and discord can be resolved without aggression or disregard for the dignity and rights of others.
Proper Etiquette reminds us that the dojo is a place of safety and cooperation, where we have respect for our teachers and for our training partners. Aikido students are always encouraged to practice the best possible etiquette, in their own dojo, as well as when training elsewhere. While the etiquette you practice here may not be the "right" way in other schools, if you remember the purpose of good etiquette, you will never embarrass yourself or your teachers. Below are some points of Aikido etiquette.
- When you enter the dojo (training area), face the shomen (front of mat where picture of O-sensei is placed) and make a short, standing bow. It should be understood that the bow is a sign of respect for the dojo and the founder of Aikido, and not a sign of worship.
- Remove your shoes before continuing into the room.
- Make a short, standing bow to the shomen before stepping onto the mat. If you have arrived early, you may do warm-up stretches before class begins.
- It is important to arrive on time for class. If, despite your best intentions, you arrive late, wait off the mat until the instructor acknowledges you and invites you onto the mat. Step onto the mat and bow from seiza as usual towards the shomen.
- At the beginning and end of class, once the instructor steps onto the mat, students should line up sitting in seiza.
- After the instructor has demonstrated a technique, find a practice partner. Students of any rank may practice together. It is appropriate, polite, and an excellent idea for junior students (kohai) to seek out advanced students (sempai). A visitor or high-ranking aikidoka should never have to seek out a partner: it is good manners and an honor for others to approach them right away and ask them to practice. The Junior student faces the senior student and then both bow and say "onegaishimasu" (O neh gI shE mas).
- Usually, a technique is practiced four times, alternating right and left side attacks, before the partners switch roles. The junior student normally begins by initiating the attack (uke), while the senior student performs the Aikido technique (nage).
- Do not wear shoes on the mat.
- Practice at an appropriate level with your partner (no spinning roundhouses with a white belt).
- Keep the dojo and yourself clean.
- No dagger like fingernails or toenails. These cut more often that you would think.
- Wash your gi (uniform) before each class.