Attitude towards our Senseis (instructors)

The attitude of the students towards Judo and your Sensei is very important. One should display respect for the hard work the Sensei has gone through to gain and share their knowledge of our sport. They volunteer their time and energy to teach, improve and support the development of their students during class, clinics, and scrimmage.

Discipline in our Dojo

The finest sports clubs and teams demonstrate the finest discipline. This is a proven fact. This discipline shows in the way the students pay attention both to their efforts and to the Sensei, and in the way they sit, stand, and practice. To make sure that students are started right in learning Judo, they should know the rules of discipline.

  1. Conduct in the Dojo

The practice hall, or area, is called the Dojo. It means a place for learning the way. The students must maintain good posture, attitude, and courtesy in the Dojo. No loud yelling, running around, horseplay, or lying on the mat is permitted.

2. Sitting in the Dojo

As instructed, students should sit in either the cross-legged (anza) or legs doubled under (seiza) position when on the mat. During randori, students should be standing facing randori to watch and learn and for their safety if a pair comes close to them.

3. Safety on the mat

Students must be alert when on the mat to avoid getting in the way of other students or pushing or throwing their opponents into each other. When a student goes to the edge of the mat to rest or rearrange their uniform, they will stand facing the center so that he can see the other players and not be injured. While training or in randori, remember the second principle of Judo, Jita Kyoei 自他虚栄, ”mutual welfare and benefit.” Try never to injure another player, and you will not be injured. Accidents and injuries come primarily from carelessness, not from Judo techniques.

4. Personal Hygiene

Zori (sandals) should be worn off the mat. No footwear is permitted on the mat. Before each practice, the mat and the rest of the Dojo are vacuumed and cleaned. After the last night’s practice, the mat was vacuumed, sprayed with disinfectant, and wet mopped. These measures are taken to prevent skin infections among our members.

Ensure your fingernails and toenails are cut short and filed smooth to prevent you from cutting your opponent’s skin and tearing or ripping your nails. Keep your Judogi washed and cleaned. Replace your Judogi if it has tears or holes in it. In tournaments, you will not be allowed to compete with it. During training, you risk having your training partners possibly catch a finger or toe inside your Judogi while being thrown, unable to perform their ukemi properly, and injuring themselves in the process.

If you have long hair, you must keep your hair off your collar and out of your eyes. Use a hair tie to tie up your hair to prevent these conditions.

Women should wear a plain white t-shirt or leotard under their Judo jacket (uwagi).V-neck T-shirts or leotards are not prohibited.

5. Courtest to Sensei

All students should pay close attention to their Sensei and should refrain from talking when the Sensei demonstrates a technique or provides relevant information or explanation. The greatest courtesy a student can show their Sensei is to work very hard at what they are being taught.

6. Respect among students

All students must seek ways to help fellow students learn Judo. Help each other get better in Judo. You win each other’s respect by doing your best at all times. No matter what your rank and skill level is, the student who does their very best earns the respect and admiration of all.

7. Learn Attitudes as Well as Techniques

The way of judo is to learn the proper habits of
efficiency and kindness to others. The goal of judo is the perfection of human
character, to be achieved by following the two principles of judo;
(1) Maximum efficiency with minimum effort, and
(2) Mutual benefit and welfare.
The practice of good habits changes students’ attitudes and helps them attain the true goals of judo.

Formal Etiquette

Observing correct etiquette (formal manners) is integral to Judo training. This helps bring about a feeling of respect not only for others but also for oneself. Jiko no Kansei, 自己の完成, self-perfection.

The Physical Dojo

By tradition, the four sides of the dojo are called the kamiza, the shimoseki, the shimoza and the joseki. The formal arrangement is with the students on the shimoza and the Senseis on the kamiza during the opening and closing procedures.
Sometimes the joseki, instead of kamiza, is used as the place of honor in some dojos. In many Dojos, there is a picture of Dr. Jigoro Kano (the founder of judo) or a small shrine on the side of the kamiza or joseki. In the United States, the American flag or the club emblem is also displayed. Also, to one side of the mat, often there is a name board (nafuda kake) containing the names of the members, arranged according to
rank. It is the responsibility of all the students to see that the dojo is properly maintained and cleaned. No individual is assigned this task; it is shared equally by all. If mats are to be set up, the students are to see that they are set up properly prior to the start of class. It is also the students’ responsibility to help put the mats away if necessary after the close of class.


The custom of bowing is prevalent in most martial arts. In judo, it can have two
meanings. It will be an expression of gratitude or respect.

How to Bow

Start your standing bow by facing your opponent. Stand upright in natural posture with your hands loose at your sides. Bow by bending forward approximately 45 degrees and placing your hands on your thighs. Keep your back straight and your heels close together. Complete your bow by rising and resuming the natural posture. Kneel on the mat, for a kneeling bow, by stepping back with your left foot and slowly
kneeling on the left knee. Kneel on the right knee and rest your body on your heels with your hands on your thighs. Face your opponent (or instructor) and bow by first sitting upright (at the call for “attention,” if given), then by leaning the upper body forward (horizontal with the mat) and placing your hands on the mat in front of you.

Complete the bow by returning to the first position, sitting upright. To stand, rise on
your knees and toes, then step forward with your right foot and finally stand up in a
natural posture.

When to Bow (Examples)

Bow when you enter or leave the dojo. When you enter, take one step in, then bow
before proceeding into the room. When you leave, go to the door, face the room and
bow, then turn and exit.

Bow when you step onto or leaving the mat area in the dojo. When you come onto
the mat, step forward onto the mat with the left foot first.

Bow in the direction of kamiza or the sensei when you are ready to leave the mat
area. From the edge of the mat, face kamiza or sensei and bow, then step backward
off the mat right foot first. Your footwear should be just off the mat where you bow.
It is improper to be barefoot anywhere in the dojo except the mat itself. By the same
token, do not step onto the mat with anything on feet.

Bow before and after working out with someone. Arrange your judogi and belt if
necessary prior to bowing to your partner.

Bow when you receive an award or promotion. This will be explained in detail later.
Bow before and after addressing an instructor. During class, follow the directions of
your instructor. He or she may not desire for you to bow each time you address them
or another higher ranking black belt.

Class Opening

The usual judo class starts with all of the students sitting on seiza (legs doubled
under) in a row or rows facing the instructor(s). Normally there is no audible signal.
The highest-ranking students sit on the right end of the row, as they face the
instructor. If there are several instructors, they sit in order of rank with the higher
ranks to their own right, in a row facing the students. They line up on the side of the
dojo known as the joseki. The highest-ranking member of this group sits on the right
end. When all coaches and students are properly seated, the head instructor gives the
senior ranking student a nod or word, and the head student calls out “kiyotsuke”
(meaning, “discipline your spirit” or “attention”), and then “rei” (meaning, “bow”)
together to open the class.

Class Closing

The end of class is normally signaled by the verbal command “sore made.” The
members will arrange themselves in seiza as in the class opening. The senior ranking
student will call everyone to attention with the verbal command “kiyotsuke.” The

senior ranking student will again signal the students to bow to the instructor(s) with
the verbal command “sensei ni, rei.” If there is a formal kamiza, everyone will turn
to it, and the senior ranking student will again signal everyone to bow with the verbal
command “rei.” The students will remain seated while the assistant instructor(s)
along the kamiza, if any, make a final bow to the senior/head instructor.

Receiving an award

It has been observed that most students are unfamiliar with the protocol for receiving
an award like a trophy, medal or certificate. The procedure described herein is the
most widely accepted one. Face the person who is presenting you with the award, at
attention, at about six feet in front of him/her. Do a standing bow. Step forward (left
foot then right) and receive the award with your left hand then shank hands with the
presenter with your right. Step back (right foot then left) and bow.

Visiting Another Dojo

Generally, most instructors encourage their students to work out at other dojos on
their “off” days. Before visiting another dojo however, you should get permission of
your regular instructor. The same would be true if you are changing dojos
permanently. Arrive at the visiting dojo before the start of class. Do not come in late.
Introduce yourself to the instructor or have a student introduce you to him. On
occasion, you might need a letter of introduction from your regular instructor. Once
you are introduced, obtain the permission of the head instructor to work out with the
class. At the end of the class, thank the instructors again for their hospitality. Help
put away any training

equipment such as mats. If a visitor comes to your dojo,
introduce yourself and make him/her feel welcome. Offer to introduce the guest to
the instructor.

Termination of Practice

If you are leaving the dojo for an extended period of time (i.e. quitting, moving,
transferring to another dojo, vacation, sickness, injury, conflicts with school or work,
personal reasons, etc.), you should notify the instructor of this fact. The instructors
care a great deal about you.

Some Final Words on Etiquette
These items are by no means a complete description of the etiquette for martial
artists, but the items focused on here are the ones that seem to give beginners the
most difficulty. As you progress further in your martial studies, you will learn more
of the formalities and of the code of bushiho. As a rule of thumb, always be
courteous and humble. It is the true reflection of your training.