Dojo Etiquette

Dojo Etiquette, Dojo Code and the 20 Principles of Karate from Funakoshi Sensei the founder of Shotokan Karate

Courtesy and respect are key elements in karate training and conduct. How we act is how others perceive us. Here are some general rules of conduct:


  1. Bow upon entering and leaving the Dojo. This should be accompanied by an effort to change to a more serious and focused attitude. (The dojo is any place we practice, even if it were an open field.)
  2. Treat the Dojo with respect. Help other students clean the floor if needed. Do not bring food, drinks, or items that might spill, into the dojo. If you notice a mess, clean it up even if you did not make it.
  3. The instructor is always addressed as “Sensei”. It is Japanese for “one who has passed this way before” or “teacher”. The most senior student is addressed as “Sempai”.
  4. Adhere to the training schedule and try not to be late. However, if the delay is due to circumstances beyond your control, join the class, and make the Sensei aware of the reason at the end of the class.
  5. If you are late and the class has begun, stop at the door, kneel in the Seiza position, or stand straight with the feet together, and await acknowledgement from the Sensei or Sempai before joining the class.
  6. Similarly, if you have to leave the class early, advise the Sensei before the class starts. Then, at a logical break in the training, move to the door, standing with feet together, and await Sensei’s acknowledgment before leaving.
  7. A similar procedure is used if one unexpectedly needs to leave the class (for illness, toilet, etc.)
  8. When the Sensei enters the dojo, the students should recognize him with “Oss” and/or a Rei (bow). This is a sign of respect.
  9. Give respect to all karate participants, whatever the grade or age. Bow to Dan grades in order of seniority.
  10. Always keep your training Gi clean and tidy.
  11. When class begins, line up quickly, with lower ranks to the right. Form a straight line with the person on your left. Face front.
  12. When the Sempai calls for “Mokuso” (meditation), close your eyes, breathe deeply from the lower abdomen, and try to achieve concentration.
  13. There should be no idle talking during class. It is disrespectful, and distracting to the Sensei and other participants.
  14. When you are listening to Sensei making an explanation during training, stand quietly and attentively, with the hands at the side or behind. Never lean against the wall, or place hands on the hips. This shows disrespect. Acknowledge the Sensei’s instructions with “Oss Sensei”.
  15. Make your maximum effort during class.
  16. Do not chew gum during class.
  17. Keep your finger and toe nails short to prevent injury to other participants. Hands should be clean.
  18. Do not wear jewelry in the dojo. If rings cannot be removed, they must be taped to prevent injury to others.
  19. It is customary for all visitors and spectators to stand while the class lines up and bows at the beginning and ending of class.
  20. Remember that training is not only in the dojo. No unnecessary violence inside or outside the dojo.


Dojo Kun

Dojo Kun in Japanese with Asai Sensei.

The Dojo Code

One, Seek Perfection of Character

One, Be Faithful

One, Endeavour

One, Respect Others

One, Refrain from violent behaviour

(One, indicates that all the priciples are equal in importance)


Dojo Kun in Japanese

hitotsu, jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto
Each person must strive for the perfection of one's character.

hitotsu, makoto no michi o mamoru koto
Each person must be faithful and protect the way of truth.

hitotsu, doryōku no seishin o yashinru koto
Each person must endeavour (fostering the spirit of effort).

hitotsu, reigi o omonzuru koto
Each person must respect others and the rules of etiquette.

hitotsu, kekki no yū o imashimuru koto
Each person must refrain from violent behavior (guard against impetuous courage).

20 Precepts of Shotokan

Funakoshi Sensei, The father of Modern Karate.

20 Precepts of Shotokan Karate by Sensei Funakoshi, Founder of the Shotokan style.

1. Karate-do begins with courtesy and ends with rei.

2. There is no first strike in karate.

3. Karate is an aid to justice.

4. First know yourself before attempting to know others.

5. Spirit first, technique second.

6. Always be ready to release your mind.

7. Accidents arise from negligence.

8. Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo.

9. It will take your entire life to learn karate, there is no limit.

10. Put your everyday living into karate and you will find "Myo" (subtle secrets).

11. Karate is like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.

12. Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose.

13. Victory depends on your ability to distinguish vulnerable points from invulnerable ones.

14. The out come of the battle depends on how you handle weakness and strength.

15. Think of your opponents hands and feet as swords.

16. When you leave home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you.

17. Beginners must master low stance and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced.

18. Practicing a kata exactly is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.

19. Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power, stretching and contraction of
the body, and slowness and speed of techniques.

20. Always think and devise ways to live the precepts of karate-do every day.