Etiquette and Discipline

The training of martial arts is demanding but equally rewarding. It is your responsibility as a karateka (karate practitioner) to develop yourself in a positive manner — physically, mentally, and spiritually. Give your best effort each day in class, practice your karate each day at home, and set personal goals to help you to make changes in your karate and grow as a person and a karateka. The instructor can show you the path, but ultimately you must walk the road. You have responsibilities as a student, and this information will help you understand your responsibilities and excel in your endeavors.

  • Arrive to class on time, mentally and physically ready to perform.
  • Attend class regularly.
  • Participate enthusiastically in class. Do the very best you can.
  • Be quiet and attentive in class.
  • Show respect for instructors and fellow karateka at all times inside and outside of the dojo.
  • Always show respect for your parents.
  • Practice your karate at home each day.
  • Take pride in your appearance and keep uniforms in good repair.
  • Remember the dojo kun in and out of the classroom.
  • Follow the dojo rules.

Dojo Rules

  1. Dues must be paid promptly in order to attend.
  2. Remove your shoes upon entering the dojo.
  3. Remove all jewelry before class.
  4. Fingernails and toenails must be clipped and feet clean.
  5. Bow to the front of the dojo upon entering or leaving.
  6. No talking during class.
  7. No chewing gum or candy during class.
  8. No alcohol or drugs before class.
  9. If you are late to class, kneel down and wait for the instructor to acknowledge you before joining class.
  10. When adjusting your gi (uniform) or belt, kneel at the back of the room, turn away from the rest of the class.
  11. Do not lean against the walls during class.
  12. Do not cross your arms or place your hands on your hips in the dojo; this is a sign of disrespect.
  13. Answer the sensei (instructor) with “Osu” (prounounced “oss”), “Yes sir/ma’am,” or “No sir/ma’am” to let sensei know that they were heard.
  14. Ask for permission first before leaving class.
  15. Use proper titles to address instructors and fellow students.
  16. Disrespect will not be tolerated.
  17. Fighting inside or outside of the dojo means immediate expulsion.
  18. Every student must help keep the dojo clean.
  19. Keep your gi clean and in good repair.
  20. Memorize and practice the dojo kun in your daily life.

Traditions and Terminology

Tradition requires that you remove your shoes and socks before entering the training area. Upon entering the dojo, bow towards the sensei or the interior upon entry and say “osu.” Bow again whenever you leave the training area.

Class Protocols and Procedures

  • Line up: All students line up in the back of the dojo, in one line facing front, higher ranking students to the right and lower ranking students to the left.
  • Kneel: Sensei kneels first. Then the lead student (generally the highest ranked black belt) will command:
    • Seiza – kneeling in order of right to left, in proper position, back straight, in a straight line.
    • Meditation: the lead kyu (colored belt) student gives the following commands:
      • Mokuso – meditation, empty the mind, eyes closed, back straight, controlled breathing, sufficient duration.
      • Mokuso yamei – to finish meditation, eyes open, mind alert and focused on karate.
      • Shomen ni rei – all karateka bow to the front then turn towards sensei.
      • Sensei ni rei – all karateka bow towards the instructor.
  • Stretching and Calisthenics – Sensei will stand and instruct the students to stand and spread out. Exercises will be performed to warm up and limber the body (duration about 15 minutes).
  • Class: At any time sensei says “yoi,” the class is to come to attention, assuming a natural stance, and be ready to perform. The class material will cover one or more of the following:
    • kihon – basics
    • kata – forms
    • kumite – sparring
  • Procedure for ending class:
    • Cool down: about five minutes of stretches and slow movements.
    • Line up: students first turn towards the back of the dojo and straighten up their gis (uniforms) if needed, then line up the same as starting class.
    • Kneel and meditation: similar to the start of class, but with the additions listed below
      • Seiza – to kneel
      • Mokuso – meditation, close the eyes
      • Mokuso yame – meditation over, open the eyes
      • Dojo Kun – the leading student recites the dojo kun, and the other karateka repeat it.
        • “Seek perfection of character.”
        • “Be faithful.”
        • “Endeavor.”
        • “Respect others.”
        • “Refrain from violent deeds.”
      • Shomen ni rei – bow to front then all students turn to instructor.
      • Sensei ni rei – bow to instructor then students turn towards their sempai if present.
      • Sempai ni rei – only if they are present, bow to the black belts then return to face front.
    • Rise: sensei will signal the end of class by saying:
      • Otagai ni rei – all present karateka bow.
      • And then rise.
      • After the instructor has moved past the line or dismissed class, students will bow and then rise, beginning with the higher ranking students.

Entering Class Late

If the class has already started when you arrive, warm up before entering training area, then kneel just outside the training area. Wait for the instructor to tell you to come into class.

Counting in Japanese

Students may hear Japanese numbers used in counting exercise repetitions.

  1. ichi
  2. ni
  3. san
  4. shi/yon
  5. go
  6. roku
  7. shichi/nana
  8. hachi
  9. kyu/ku
  10. ju

Targeted Body Areas

  • Jodan – head face and neck area
  • Chudan – chest and stomach area
  • Geidan – waist to knees

Kata (Forms)

Listed below are the Individual Kata assigned by rank. As karateka progress, they will learn new kata and are expected to retain and be able to perform all previously taught kata.

Kata NameRankBelt Color
Heian Shodan9th KyuWhite
Heian Nidan8th KyuYellow
Heian Sandan7th KyuOrange
Heian Yondan6th KyuGreen
Heian Godan5th KyuPurple
Tekki Shodan4th KyuPurple
Individual Kata from Sentei list (see below)3th KyuBrown
Individual Kata from Sentei list (see below)2nd KyuBrown
Individual Kata from Sentei list (see below)1st KyuBrown
Individual Kata from Sentei list (see below)1st Dan (Shodan)Black
Individual Kata (also must know all Heian kata, all Sentei kata, Tekki Nidan, Tekki Sandan, Jitte/Jutte, and Gankaku)2nd Dan: (Nidan)Black

Sentei Kata

  • Bassai-dai
  • Kanku-dai
  • Empi
  • Jion
  • Hangetsu

Other Kata

  • Jitte/Jutte
  • Tekki Nidan
  • Tekki Sandan
  • Gankaku
  • Sochin
  • Ji’in
  • Meikyo
  • Bassai Sho
  • Kanku Sho
  • Chinte
  • Wankan
  • Nijushiho
  • Gojushiho Sho
  • Gojushiho Dai
  • Unsu

[Photo credits: Laura Davis]