THE IMPORTANCE OF ETIQUETTE
In Karate-Do, as with all traditional Japanese martial arts, exercise and training begin with and are concluded by a formal bow, either standing or sitting, depending on the circumstances. This formal bow is probably the most visible sign of the system of etiquette known in Japan as REIGI. It is fundamental both to the fighting systems and to the people of Japan, and yet is almost always misunderstood even by quite experienced and physically capable students of the martial arts.
The etiquette as manifested by the traditional bow and the reasons for which it is performed are as follows. When you bow, you not only show respect for your opponent and the training hall, but by gathering and controlling your inner power and by remaining calm and dignified in manner, you emanate an aura of quiet confidence and invulnerability that will allow you to influence those around you and exercise a degree of control over them. By understanding this, and developing it as an essential and not just a superficial part of the training program, the bow will become almost like a formal Karate stance in which you quickly take control of any situation you face while remaining ready to defend yourself without the need to be constantly tense.
This may seem to be no more than a ploy to unsettle an opponent in order to make him easier to defeat, or an attempt to upset his concentration and exert psychological pressure in order to gain an easy victory. While this does happen in modern sports, and has become almost a tradition in some, it is not true in the case of the martial arts, as there was, and often is, too much at stake to risk the outcome of physical combat on a trick. In fact we all have the instinctive ability, together with most other members of the animal kingdom, to recognize the leader of any group, whether we are a member of that group or not. He may not be the oldest, or the most experienced, but all recognize him as the leader and defer to him. Some people are born with this power, others have to acquire it; the serious study of Karate-Do is an excellent way of developing this ability, and at the same time building a strong healthy body and learning to defend yourself.
When you prepare to bow, this is the sort of force you must exert - a combination of confidence, strength of character, dignity and awareness. If you can do this successfully you will possess a powerful weapon, as your calmness will be communicated to those around you through your body language, and they will understand your latent strength and invulnerability. It was by the use of this force, and not through threats or violence or naked aggression, that the Samurai of Japan's past ages controlled large groups of people, keeping order when disorder was threatened, and arresting wrongdoers without even drawing their swords.
This power or ability must never be confused with aggression, which in my opinion is a negative emotion caused by fear, and is therefore counter-productive. It is also a sign of weakness, in that your opponent has instilled fear in you and you have reacted by becoming aggressive. He therefore gains a superior position, having discovered that he can exercise a degree of control over you. A dog that is frightened will growl and threaten, his hair will stand up, and he will present a fearsome appearance to his enemy. The courageous dog will attack without warning. Fear is unknown to him and he wisely does not want to lose the element of surprise.
Powerful positive action should never be mistaken for aggression, and aggression should never be taken for strength. When you understand this and have experienced it, you will realize the importance of etiquette, and why it's observance is insisted upon by all good instructors. This observance of etiquette includes addressing all black belt ranks as “Mr.” or “Ms.” during the class session.
KARATE DOJO: GENERAL REGULATIONS
1. If you are a student at a Dojo, always arrive before the class starts.
2. TACHI-REI (Standing Bow). Always bow upon entering and leaving the Dojo. Upon entering, bow first to the flag, then to the highest ranking black belt. Upon leaving, bow first to the highest ranking black belt, then to the flag. The flag is always first and last.
3. When it is time for the class to begin, if the Sensei (Instructor) is not present, then the senior adult student will start the class.
4. All students must follow the leader's instructions as if they were that of the Sensei.
5. During the session, students must work with a serious attitude and complete concentration. Therefore, laughing, talking, chewing gum or asking questions cannot be permitted except with special permission from the Sensei. Silence and seriousness during a session are two rules which must be followed if a high level of training is to be sustained. All black belt ranks are to be addressed as “Mr.” or “Ms.” during the class session. In addition, no jewelry or watches may be worn by the students during class.
6. Whether in lining up on command or in actual practice action, rapid movement is an essential part of the training. This habit of moving quickly and without wasted movement or effort will keep the class working smoothly and at a good pace. In addition, the student will acquire good working techniques.
7. A session is designated as a continuous half hour of work with a two minute break, unless given permission from the Sensei.
8. If a student must stop work, then he must raise his hand to report to the instructor and obtain permission.
9. Each student must report when temporarily discontinuing lessons.
10. Each student, purple belt or above, must report any anticipated absence to the head of the Dojo or to the trainers.
11. Senior System: No student should go directly to the Sensei with questions without first attempting to obtain the answers from the lower or senior students. If the student is a white belt, then he should ask a purple belt, and etc. Each student should, however, make every effort to learn the answer through continued practice, work, and observing other students. If a problem can be solved by the student himself in this way, through his own effort, the answer will become permanent knowledge and will not be forgotten. As a final resort, the Sensei should be consulted.
12. To practice hard is the motto of any Dojo, in order to master the techniques of true Karate.
13. Each student of Karate must thoroughly understand the "Code of Conduct", Tenets and Dojo Ethics.
14. The wearing of the Do-Gi (uniform) outside the Dojo is strictly prohibited. However, the Do-Gi may be worn at home during your private practice sessions.
DOJO KUN - DOJO ETHICS
KARATE--------------Begins with Courtesy
Disciplines the Mind and Body
Ends with COURTESY
and leads to Wa-No-Michi (Way of Peace)
The purpose of the Wado-Ryu System of Karate and the Federation of All Japan Karate-Do Organizations, at any Dojo affiliated with the Federation, is to teach the Japanese Martial Arts, its attitudes, traditions and culture, and to teach a way of harmony with the student, within the student, and around the student.
Revere that which is Holy. Honor your Father and Mother. Respect your elders and other people's property and rights.
Be thankful for all things: your life, friendship and love. Thankfulness will bring happiness.
Discipline your mind and body so that you have absolute control over both of them. Only a disciplined person can achieve his goal.
A person's character will be judged by his sincerity and integrity. Only a sincere person can be worthy of friendship.
Unity of one's mind and singleness of one's purpose are essential to success. Concentrate on one thing at a given time.
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