Though the art and techniques are traditional, the teaching method has been modernized with fast paced background music and positive personal reinforcement. The atmosphere in the dojo is warm but serious, "We will have fun, and learn more doing it." When people enter the dojo, they get a feeling this is a serious but positive place. This is an institution of serious learning, and as such, you are expected to conform to our guidelines.
Take off all your jewelry before training, including earrings, watches, large rings, or necklaces. This is good common sense as well as a rule of the dojo. Students remove shoes and socks for training before you walk out onto the dojo floor. This is practical, since we train in bare feet on the floor, and it is a cultural tradition of Shotokan Karate.
If you arrive to class late, change quickly, go to the dojo floor, bow, then sit in the seiza (sitting) position. Look at the instructor and wait for permission to join the class. At this dojo, there is no religious or subservience significance involved in bowing. It is a tradition and custom associated with the art of Okinawan/Japanese karate, and should be viewed as a demonstration of mutual respect for the art and one another.
As Master Funakoshi states, "Without courtesy you cannot practice Karate-do." This applies not only to our training but also to life in general. The word "dojo" is actually two words. "do" which means "the way" or "the path" and ‘jo’ which means ‘the place’. When the two words are combined it means "the place where the way is studied’. The dojo is the place where we learn to live together as human beings. This is a serious subject and therefore we must always follow dojo etiquette. This is the first step to practicing Karate.
Upon entering the doorway of the dojo, face shomen side, (front of the dojo) and bow. This is called ritsu-rei and shows deep respect to the teachings of Master Funakoshi as well as the seriousness of your study. When the instructor says line up, move as fast as possible to form the line. Remember, more than two steps, you must run. Always keep both balls of the feet in contact with the floor when kneeling down or rising to the standing position. If your posture is not straight and your feet not gripping the floor, then it is almost impossible to effectively defend against an opponent. Try this for yourself.
After making seiza (sitting position), then you must close your eyes in mokuso. This term means to cleanse or make blank your mind to prepare for training. You have to forget all your thoughts and concentrate only on what the instructor is trying to convey. By only existing in the moment can you really learn.
After the command mokuso yame, you should open your eyes. Shomen ni rei - bow to the shomen (front of the dojo), Sensei ni rei - bow to the instructor. Every time you bow push your ego further down and become as empty as possible.
Classes always begin with a full warm-up to
prevent connective tissue injury. After training, the same
formalities are observed as at the beginning of class with the
exception of reciting the Dojo Kun (School Precepts).
Always think of the safety of your fellow students! No horseplay.
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