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Kami Dojo

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The Dojo:

The practice in the way of combat (Budo) begins but never ends.

Dōjō (道場) is a Japanese term that means the place (jō) where the “way” is practiced (dō).

The Dojo is not only the place where the training is carried out but also a symbol of the deep relationship between the student and the martial art. The Dojo is a place of meditation, concentration, learning, friendship and mutual respect: it is the symbol of the Way of the Martial Art.

In the Western culture this term comes improperly translated as “gymnasium” and means only a space for training. In Oriental culture the Dojo is the place where the “way” can be practiced: the perfect unity between zen (mind) and ken (body). Therefore, the perfect psychophysical equilibrium (the maximum realization of one’s own individuality) can be achieved in the Dojo.

The Dojo is the school of the “Sensei” (The Master). He represents the apex and establishes the directives and the norms of protocol. Beyond the Master are the students and the “Sempai”, the senior degree student, who carries out an important role. The Sempai’s behavior should set the example that must guide the other students, otherwise, if his behavior is not according to the “way”, it will have a negative affect on the students.

The Dojo it is not just a place but represents and reflects a proper attitude. The Dojo differs in this aspect from the normal sports establishments. The physical exercise can be the same, but the search of the “proper attitude” is the difference.

When students enter the Dojo, they must leave their daily problems behind, purify their minds and concentrate on the training in order to exceed their limits and insecurities by challenging themselves.

The Dojo is like a small society with very precise rules that must be respected. When the students wear the keikogi, their social or professional status must be left behind, as for the Master, they are all the same.

A student must become familiar with a series of rules, for instance: personal hygiene, a clean keikogi, avoid class disruptions, maintain tidiness in the Dojo, amongst other rules, before being able to understand and follow the ethics of the Martial Art. These ethics were derived from the archaic Samurai ethics (the “Bushido” or “The Warrior Way”).

The courage, the courtesy, the mutual aid and the respect of oneself, as well as the others, are principles that become a part of and enhance the personal values of the students.

In the Dojo violence is not used. Martial arts emphasize the mental force not the physical one.

When somebody enters or leaves the Dojo, they must salute as a sign of respect towards the art and be thankful for the knowledge gained.

In ancient times, in the Dojo the ritual of the soji “clean” was executed. The students cleaned the Dojo, preparing it for the upcoming training. Such gesture was the symbol of purification of the body and mind. By doing that the students prepared themselves to face the external world with modesty, a necessary behavior in order to learn and to teach a martial art.

"Freedom is in the rule"

Dojo (REIGI)

Protocol, norms, and rules to observe on the tatami

· Observe the norms of good education and strictly follow the instructions and rules of the Master.

· Never criticize the techniques executed by other students and respect them.

· Before beginning the class you must remove all jewellery, secure long hair. Ensure fingernails and toenails are trimmed in order to prevent injury.

· The correct method to be positioned on the tatami is in the seiza position. If you have problems with your knees, then you can sit cross-legged. Never lean against a wall, a pillar, or stretch your legs out in front of you. You must be ready at all times.

· When you enter or exit from the tatami you must face towards the centre of the tatami or towards the Master, if present, to execute the salute in a standing position.
· At the beginning and the end of the class the Master instructs the students to be positioned in a row facing him.

· Mokuso (eyes closed for the meditation). Mokuso-Yame (end of the meditation and the eyes are reopened)

· The lesson begins with the salute “Onegai shimasu”, and finishes with “Domo Arigato Gozai - Mashita”

· If you arrive late to the class, you must wait at the edge of the tatami until the breathing exercises have concluded and when the Master salutes you should return his salute and then enter the tatami.

· If you must leave prior to the end of the class, you must ask the Master for permission then, walk behind all (never in front of them), go to the door and wait in seiza until the Master salutes you, then execute the traditional salute and exit the tatami.

· At the end of every executed technique you must thank your partner with a simple “thanks”.

· When the Master is showing a technique, you cannot speak or disturb the class.

· Inside of the Dojo you have to observe the mutual harmony and to engage the practical techniques with joy, serenity, seriousness, and spontaneity in order to prevent accidents.

· You must dedicate sufficient time for practicing.

· If the belt of the keikogi is untied, ensure that the Master has finished talking, then turn towards the edge of the tatami and tie it.

· When you practice with the weapons (jo and bokken) strictly follow the established rules.

· The clothing worn during the training (keikogi and hakama) always must be clean.

· Smoking is forbidden inside the Dojo and no inebriated persons will be allowed entry.

· Private and personal conversations are strongly discouraged in the Dojo, only discussions on technique are allowed.

· If a person addresses another seated on the tatami, he must be in the seiza position before speaking or handing over something to them. The person giving and the one receiving must use both hands.

· Do not stand behind a person who is in the seiza position (this is a custom derived from the fact that in Japan that position came traditionally assumed from those who assisted the person who committed “seppuku” or “harakiri”).

· If using the facilities of another Dojo, you must always observe and respect their established rules and do not touch their weapons, etc present in the Dojo.

· Under the Keikogi only women are allowed to wear a white T-shirt.

· If you must ask the Master a question, go towards him (do not call him), salute him with respect and wait until he is available (in this case, simply salute and stand on your feet).

· Always respect the high ranking students. Never disagree with them on the execution of techniques.

· Always remember that you are here in order to learn and practice, not to impose your ideas onto others.

· If you know the movement that you practising and the other student does not, you can assist him. Do not correct him unless you have the yudansha degree.

· You do not have to oppose your force to the execution of the technique by the other student.

· Never cut between two students that are practicing a technique.

· If a blow is received while you are practising, do not confront the other student and he must apologize.

· When the Master finishes demonstrating one technique with the aid of a uke, you must salute him with a salute and then ask another student to allow you to practice with him saying “onegai shimasu”: (Would you be so kind to train with me?).

· During the training, if the Master explains one technique to two students, the remaining students should be in seiza position as a sign of respect, observing and listening to the explanation. When the Master finishes, all those who were in the seiza position and observing should thank the Master by saying “Domo arigato gozaimasu”.

· After the final salute, the students must remain in seiza position waiting for the Master to be the first to stand.

· You should try to conform the way you express and conduct yourself in the daily life to the one you practice in aikido.

· Guests are invited to visit the dojo and, after having obtained the permission from the Master, they can observe the class from a designated area.

These written rules need to be followed from the very beginning. Once you respect them, they will become natural and will display the values of a good person. This is the reason for which it does not have to be in a behavior in order to follow the rule in a hypocritical way, but because you respect and trust the rules.

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