Proper Dojo Etiquette


Ninjutsu is not a religion, but the education and refinement of the spirit.  You will not be asked to adhere to any religious doctrine,

but only to remain spiritually open. When we bow it is not a religious performance, but a sign of respect for the same

spirit of universal creative intelligence within us all.


BOWING - SITTING AND STANDING "Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo”.


The most senior student says “Narande”: line up in ranks, students sit in Seiza no kamae (kneeling posture).


The teacher will, at some point, place his/her hands together in prayer position “Gasso

pausing for the students to follow suit.


The teacher then says a prayer for enlightenment, "Shinkin haramitsu dai komyo", and the students repeat it.


"Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo" Interpretations:


1.     If we will only listen and be ready to learn from our experiences, we will find the wisdom to gain enlightenment.

2.     Kami, sincerity, compassion, naturally devoting oneself to obeying nature - by continually searching for all of these a great light (daikomyo) can appear.

3.     The teaching of the gods shall eternally protect those who are right in heart and body. The sound of words in our reach for enlightenment creates the divine cosmic light.

4.     Conceptually translated as, "Every experience contains the potential for the enlightenment we seek".


The phrase has roots in both Japanese and Sanskrit. The SHI of the phrase translates literally as "words". The KIN translates as "sounds". The combination has the meaning of "an encounter

"or" something that occurs to/at me". HARAMITSU is the Japanese sound of paramita, a Sanskrit term that roughly translates as "perfection of wisdom.

" DAI KO MYO translates as "great bright light" by means of which illumination "dawns on us."

It's a reminder for us to be ever mindful, to be ever aware that each one of these moments that make up our life could be that special moment.

It's like putting together one of these jigsaw puzzles.  If you are so intent on the puzzle you may not even know that you put the last piece in.


Everyone then simultaneously claps twice and bows, then claps once and bows once more.


The teacher then faces the students, and the most senior student says, "Sensei ni rei" (to the teacher, bow), The student’s bow and says either

 "O negai shimasu", or "Domo Arigato gozaimashita". The teacher says “Tachimas” Stand.

"Onegai shimasu." Loosely translated it is a request which when spoken by the student means, "Please give me your instruction." 

When spoken by the teacher it means, "Please do what is expected of you." or "Please receive my instruction." The words spoken by the student to

the instructor at the end of practice are, "Domo arigato gozaimashita."  "You have my respect and gratitude for what you have just done." 

This is the most respectful way of saying thank you.


The Dojo Keeping it and yourself tidy “sojii”


A dojo is a term used in Japanese martial arts that refers to a formal training hall. It is typically considered the formal gathering place for students of martial arts

Style to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters.


In Japanese, dojo means literally "place of the Way”. A hombu dojo of a style is considered the administrative and stylistic headquarters or a particular martial arts style or group. This does not necessarily mean that they are large or ostentatious.

A proper Japanese-style martial arts dojo is considered special and is well cared for by its users. In many styles it is traditional to conduct a ritual cleaning and tidying of the dojo at the end of each

training session (called sojii). Besides the obvious hygienic benefits of regular cleaning it also serves to reinforce the fact that dojo are supposed to be supported and managed by the student body,

Not the school's instructional staff.


Respect your training tools. Gi should be clean and mended.  Weapons should be in good condition and in their proper place when not in use. Fingernails and toenails must be short.

Feet must be clean. Shoes or sandals are never allowed on the mat.


This attitude has become lost in many modern, commercial dojos that are founded and run by a small group of people or instructors. In fact, it is not uncommon that

In traditional (koryu) schools, dojos are rarely used for training at all, instead being reserved for more symbolic or formal occasions. The actual training is conducted typically outdoors or

in a less formal area.


Rules during training


·       It is necessary to respect the way in which the instructor of the class directs the training.  Receive instruction and carry out suggestions for training sincerely and to the best of your ability. 

     There is no room for argument on the mat. Respect the Instructor and his teachings.  Respect the dojo, respect your training tools and respect each other.


·       It is the moral responsibility of each student never to use Ninjutsu techniques to harm another person or as a way to display his or her ego.

     It is a tool to develop a better society through the character development of the individual.


·       There will be no competition on the mat. The purpose of Ninjutsu is not to fight and defeat an enemy, but to fight and defeat your own aggressive instincts.


·       The strength of Ninjutsu is not in muscular force, but in flexibility, timing, control and modesty.  Be aware of your limitations. Everyone has different physical abilities and reasons for study,

these must be respected. True Ninjutsu is the proper and flexible application of techniques appropriate to any changing situation. It is your responsibility to cause no injury to your training partner or yourself.


·       A few minutes before class time you should be warmed up and formally seated in quiet meditation to rid your mind of the day's problems and prepare for study.

     It is important to be on time for practice and participate in the opening ceremony.  If you are unavoidably late you should wait, formally seated beside the mat until the instructor signals his or her permission for you to join the class. Quietly perform a simple seated bow as you get on the mat.


·       The only proper way to sit on the mat is in Seiza (formal sitting position). If you have a knee injury you may sit cross-legged, but never with legs outstretched, never reclining, and never leaning against walls or posts.


·       Do not leave the mat during class except in the case of injury or illness.


·       During class when the instructor demonstrates a technique for practice, sit quietly and attentively in Seiza. After the demonstration bow to the instructor, then to a partner and immediately begin to practice.


·       When the end of a technique is signalled, stop immediately, bow to your partner and quickly line up with the other students.


·       If it is necessary to ask a question of the instructor you should go to him or her and bow respectfully (standing bow).  Never call the instructor over to you.


·       Respect those more experienced. Never argue about technique.


·       Respect those less experienced. Do not pressure your ideas on others.


·       No jewellery should be worn during practice, including rings and pierced earrings.


·       Do not talk or walk around while the instructor is demonstrating or during the opening and closing ceremony.


·       You cannot buy technique. The monthly membership dues provide a place for training and a way in which to show gratitude for the teaching received.

      It is each student’s responsibility to pay dues on time.




Although there seem to be many forms of etiquette to remember, they will come naturally as you continue to train.  Please do not resent it if you are corrected on a point of etiquette.