Contributed by Sue Ellis
While our dojo style is friendly and informal, there are some basic principles of dojo etiquette that we should all strive to follow. Many of these “rules” carry on the traditional training practices of Aikido as it is practiced in Japan, its birthplace. As such, some of them may seem foreign to us at first. By following the spirit of these traditions, however, we show respect for the art of Aikido, our instructors, and our fellow practitioners.
The first of these Etiquettips speaks to punctuality. Aikido training demands focus – a quiet mind and a ready body. Someone who rushes onto the mat at the last minute before class begins – or worse yet, at the first minute after class has begun! – cannot be ready to practice Aikido.
At Hombu Dojo, the international Aikido headquarters in Japan, it is common to be changed and on the mats, stretching and then sitting quietly, fifteen to twenty minutes before the start of practice. (In fact, it was not uncommon for people to be on the mats a half-hour or more before the Doshu’s 6:30 am class!)
At Naka Ima, we ask that you try to arrive at the dojo and change early enough to be on the mats about ten minutes before the first class of the day. If another class precedes yours, try to be ready when the previous class finishes. This helps you get into the right mindset to practice, and helps to ensure that others are not distracted by a mad scramble onto the mats as practice is beginning.
If you absolutely must be late for a class, remember to enter at the back of the mat and sit in seiza until Sensei invites you to join the class. And be momentarily glad you aren’t in Japan, where such tardiness will often make you the subject of a lesson about punctuality!