A dojo is a sacred place and as such demands a high standard of behaviour from students. Each dojo has rules, most of which are modeled on traditional Japanese procedures. Many rules are common sense, and others just plain good manners. Strive to learn these rules and procedures thoroughly, as they are an important part of your study. With time, they will become second nature to you.

Your dojo is not merely a gym or any old training center. It should be regarded as a place where one comes to concentrate wholeheartedly on the pursuit of excellence. Karate has little to do with muscles and everything to do with character. Take care of and pride in your dojo and treat it as you would any place of reverence. Be patient with your learning. If something seems unclear, with time you will come to understand and appreciate its purpose and significance.

Karate is easily mistaken for a rough and demanding sport, serving little purpose except to teach its participants to injure others in most distasteful ways. Without the courtesies, the dojo would soon be full of rude and violent people. Be sincere in the adoption of the dojo etiquette. A karateka should be recognised as much by the courtesy in their attitude as by the healthy glow in their eyes and alertness in their movement.


1.     When entering the dojo, bow and say “Oss”. Bowing is a sign of reverence and humility, not just a formality.
2.     Shoes are not worn on the karate training floor and should be removed on entering the dojo.
3.     Students must not eat, drink or chew gum in the dojo.
4.     If late to class, stand on the side of the training floor and wait. When acknowledged, bow saying “Oss” and quickly join the class. Students who are late for class should try harder to be on time.
5.     When asked to proceed in position, or when lining up at the beginning or during training, always move as quickly as possible. Do not stroll.
6.     When training with a partner, bow to show respect and a willingness to work, without any intention to hurt them physically or emotionally.
7.     Never practice Kumite unless an instructor is present. When practicing Kumite with a black belt, do you very best, but show respect to their rank. If you think you can go harder then do so, but remember that they have your lower rank in mind whilst they are sparring, and so will not be fighting their hardest.
8.     Do not ask a higher grader for Kumite. You should not refuse, however, if you are asked by a senior grade.
9.     Students should never lose their temper during training. Karateka should train with intensity but without anger or hostility. There is no place for ego in the dojo.
10.  Do not break rank for any reason without permission from the instructor. Never walk between rows, or between the instructor and those training. If you must leave your position, walk behind the row you are in to either side of the class and proceed from there.
11.  Address your instructor as Sempai, Sensei or Shihan, as the case may be. Do not address an instructor by their first name in class.
12.  Students should maintain a dignified posture at all times. Don’t cross arms, put hands on hips, lean against the wall or lie down on the training floor.
13.  Do not swear, laugh, talk, or act inattentively during training. Treat your training seriously. A karateka is always alert and well behaved. Possession of a senior grade (especially black belt) is not a ticket to relaxation and familiarity in the dojo. Do not waste your time and everyone else’s if you are not prepared to treat your training and your fellow karateka with respect and the seriousness deserved.
14.  Unless directed by the instructor, a student should remain in the class until the completion of the final bow-out. Abuse of this rule will not be tolerated.
15.  Do not remove any part of your gi during training without being told to do so.
16.  Turn to the right, away from the front of the class, or from your partner if you are working with someone, to adjust your gi. Learn to respect your belt as a symbol of your efforts in training.
17.  Your gi must be washed and clean and neat at all times. Your belt should be air dried but never washed, as it symbolically contains the spirit of your hard training.
18.  Keep your toenails and fingernails clean and short at all times. Always be sure that your hands and feet are washed and clean for training. In training you often work closely with others and nobody likes to train with someone who is dirty. If you have a cut or wound, cover it well.
19.  For the sake of safety and neatness, do not wear jewellery during training, or when you are wearing your gi. If you have long hair, it should be neatly tied up.
20.  Be sure to go the bathroom before training. An accidental blow to the bladder can be extremely dangerous. Try also to remember that it is not good for the body to train on a full stomach, so avoid eating for at least one hour before the start of class.
21.  Listen carefully to the instructor’s directions. Remember that the instructor will not ask you to do what he or she would not also do. Acknowledge all instructions with a strong “Oss” or “OSAAA”.
22.  The instructor, whomever it may be, should be treated with the respect that you yourself would expect as a common courtesy. If you cannot find it in you to show respect to a person who is taking their time to teach you, then you do not belong in the karate dojo. Never question your instructor’s direction; never speak in class unless asked a question by the instructor. Such obedience develops a bond of trust between the instructor and student, which improves mutual receptivity, simplifying and speeding the learning process.

Karate begins and ends with respect – respect for all those who came before you, respect for those present with you, and respect for all those who will come after you. Without respect, you cannot do karate.