The study and enjoyment of Karate is far more important than rank. In general, classes at the Honbu Dojo unfold in the following manner:
As with any physical activity, it is essential that both Karate students and instructors include a good warm-up in their personal training. In general, the class warms up together. Students will line up after bowing in and the sensei will lead the warm-up with a variety of stretches and movements.
Following the warm-up and basic motions, the sensei will select a series of techniques the class will learn and practice. The class may be taught as one unit or broken up according to skills, belts, or the particular needs of the students (e.g. a student may work on specific techniques needed for an impending belt test). Senior belts - black and brown - will usually assist with instruction when called upon by the sensei.
It is important that you learn about the manners and etiquette of karate. This attendance to tradition, along with karate kata, is what differentiates karate from sport.
When we bow or observe special moments or ceremonies, we do so for the purpose of training our minds and to complement the training of our bodies. Some of the major components of dojo etiquette include the following:
Bowing In Karate, we bow often. We bow when we enter a dojo and leave a dojo, when we step onto or off the training floor, when we meet other students or instructors, when class begins and ends, and when we begin training with our partner.
We bow to remind ourselves to be grateful. We are grateful to those who developed the Karate we study. We are grateful to have a place to study and people with whom to study. We bow to thank our instructor and fellow students.
When entering or leaving a dojo, it is customary to face the front of the practice area and bow. We use this to remind ourselves to be grateful for the place we train in and the art we practice. Upon entering the dojo, one should take off hats and shoes, dispose of chewing gum, and stop any distracting practices that may interfere with training. One should endeavor to focus all one's attention and energy on the study of Karate.
At the dojo, one should change from street clothes to a training uniform called a gi. This helps shed outside concerns and focus attention on the task at hand - Karate training. Clean and complete uniforms are preferred since a completeness of dress reflects the attention one gives to the study of Karate.
When greeting a fellow student or an instructor, one may do so with a traditional bow. This is customary in the practice of Japanese Budo. Bowing is also a sign of respect. When stepping on or stepping off the training floor, one should bow to the front of the dojo. This expresses one's intent to concentrate fully on Karate training and acts as a respectful recognition of all the individuals, past and present, who have contributed to Karate.
Being on time for class demonstrates a respect for the valuable time given by the teachers and ones fellow students to the practice of this art.
All jewelry and watches must be removed before practice to avoid damage. All fingers and toenails should be trimmed so as not to cause injury to others or oneself. Those with long hair are strongly urged to have it well tied back.
When class is ready to begin, the senior student (sempai) calls the dojo to attention (ki o tsuke). Line up in a straight line and in ascending order of rank. Wait until sempai instructs you to be seated (seiza). Assume the seiza position by stepping back with your left foot and lowering your left knee to the floor. Bring your right foot back and under, next to your left. Slowly lower your body until your buttocks are resting on your heels. Sit up straight, chin pulled slightly in, mouth closed. Place your hands in your lap palms up with your fingertips overlapping and your thumbs touching tip to tip. The feeling should be that you are holding an egg in your hands.
The senior student will call "Shomen ni rei" (bow to the front), followed by, "Sensei ni rei" (bow to the instructor). Facing the front of the dojo, bow (rei) at the waist placing first your left hand and then your right on the floor in front of you. Your fingers should be extended and joined with your forefingers and thumbs touching, forming a triangle. Keep your back straight and avoid raising your hips. Do not duck your head; keep your neck in alignment with your back. After a short pause, raise yourself back to the seiza position, retracting first your right hand and then your left. Place your hands comfortably on your thighs. Sempai will then instruct the dojo to face the teachers ("sensei ni rei"). Turn to the teachers and follow the same method described above. However, speak in a respectful tone "onegai shimasu". This lets the teacher know that you are eager and ready to practice karate.
A similar routine should also take place at the end of class.
Training should begin and end with a polite bow between partners. When corrected by the instructor, bow and say either "osu" or thank you. If one needs to leave the mat or practice area during class, one should inform the instructor.
Once the instructor dismisses the class, students bow to each other and thank each other for the training.