DOJO ETIQUETTE & RULES

info-aboutus-dojoetiquetteKarate goes back many hundreds of years and is influenced by the cultures of Okinawa, Japan and China. Consequently, Kiryoku members are expected to observe many examples of traditional Dojo etiquette, some of which often go unspoken.

Please note that these actions should never be interpreted as acts of subservience and are simply based upon common courtesy, respect, structure and safety. The dojo is a place where spirit is forged through rigorous physical conditioning and self-discipline.

This compilation should make these rules more easily understood. If in doubt, always ask your Sensei or Senpai.

  • All students should bow upon joining and leaving the dojo’s tatami.

Dojo – a room or hall for the practice of martial arts.


Tatami – matted training area.

  • The Karate Gi should be kept clean and tidy with the Obi tied neatly with both ends at equal lengths.

Karate Gi – name for the traditional uniform used for practice.


Obi – Belt worn with the uniforms used by practitioners of Japanese martial arts.

  • All students should keep their fingernails and toenails short and neatly trimmed. Any jewellery that cannot be removed, should be covered by tape.
  • When asked to ‘line up’, students should end conversations immediately and face the instructor in grade order, ensuring that lines are straight and evenly spaced.
  • Anyone arriving late, or re-joining a class should kneel at the side of the tatami and wait to be invited to join in by the instructor.
  • Students should never refer to the instructor by any name other than ‘Sensei’ whilst in the dojo. Whereas other senior grades should be referred to as ‘Senpai’.

Sensei – translates as “one who comes before” and means teacher.


Senpai – refers to a member of higher experience or hierarchy in the dojo.

  • Students should never leave a class without first gaining the permission of the instructor. This includes water and toilet breaks.
  • Students should always respond to instruction from the Sensei with a spirited ‘Oss’.
  • With grade comes responsibility, consequently all students have a certain accountability for the grade directly below their own.
  • Students should never request to be graded. The Sensei will always inform the student or their parents when they are ready to attempt a grading. Simply training for the minimum time period between ranks does not make the student eligible. Many factors are involved such as time at current grade, attendance, attitude, effort and of course, an improvement in technical ability.
  • Although enjoyment is vital, training should always be challenging as it is only through endeavour that the student can improve. Remember that there is no growth in comfort, so maintain 100% effort, 100% of the time. Do not make excuses.
  • All students must ensure that they hold an up to date Karate licence/insurance.

Oss – taken from Oshi Shinobu, which conveys the concept of “persevering when pushed”. To never give up, to have determination and to withstand the most arduous of training.

  • When asked to ‘pair up’, students should always ensure that the senior grades are the first to be partnered.