Etiquette, Policies & Customs

The following guidelines are our principle customs on how to conduct oneself in the dojo. These instructions are common in most dojos across the AJJF, but some specifics may vary from school to school. Don't be concerned if you cannot remember all the rules; simply follow a more senior student's lead. If in doubt, bow with a sense of courtesy and appreciation. At Honshin Kan these customs are part of our heritage of Japanese martial art tradition and part of the training, yet you will generally not observe a rigidness or militaristic quality to our training. We are intentionally rather social and relaxed, like a family.

1. The Bow (rei)
If standing; bend forward at the waist. You should retain eye contact with the person to which you are bowing. If kneeling in seisa, place your hands flat on the floor in front of you so that your hands are touching or overlapping and bow. The bow is used to acknowledge respect for your sensei and fellow students. It is very important to the culture of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu to be earnest and honest when bowing to another person.

2. Sitting Seiza
First of all be aware that your anatomy, knees in particular, may not be constructed or trained in a manner conducive to this form of kneeling. Those that grow up in a culture in which this is a normal function from childhood will have no difficulty. Today, most of us do not fit into that category, and initially you may need to make adjustments to your seiza form for the well-being of your knees or hips; however, with training your flexibility will increase considerably. That caution said, kneel and sit back on your ankles. Some people allow their feet to overlap so that the toes of their left foot cross over the toes of their right. Whenever sitting in class, sit seiza or with your legs crossed: never sit with your legs outstretched (unless you need to relax a leg cramp that developed from sitting seiza.) If necessary, seiza benches are available for those with knee or hip problems.

3. Entering/Exiting the Dojo
When entering the main door bow as you enter or exit the dojo. Please remove your shoes at the door. Shoe racks are provided for the storage of your footwear.

4. Stepping On/Off the Mat
Face the center of the mat and bow before you step on or off the mat.

5. Start/Close of Class
Line up, sitting seiza, facing the center of the room. In most dojos, the front of the room is defined by where the American Flag is hanging. In Honshin Kan, it is also where the pictures of Professor Okazaki and Master Morihei Ueshiba hang as a sign of respect for our principle founders and heritage. Black belts sit with their backs to the front wall, facing the white and blue belts. White and blue belts sit facing the front of the room. Green belts sit to the right, relative to the direction the black belts are facing, while brown belts sit to the left.

When you hear “kiotsuke” become quiet and sit at attention. When you hear “shomen-ni, rei" turn and bow to the front of the class, to honor the dojo shomen. When you hear “sensei-ni, rei” turn and bow to the class to honor with thankfulness each other and the class sensei. For the close of class you will line up the same way, but the bows are in reverse order. For more information on the definitions and use of Japanese terms in Jujitsu, see our Dictionary section.

6. Working with a Partner
Show respect by bowing to your partner both before and after working together.

7. Safety
It is the responsibility of ALL students to maintain a safe environment. When you feel uncomfortable about a technique the safe thing to do is to pass. Inform the instructor whenever you feel that another student is not working safely. Notify sensei (the instructor) before class if you have any mental or physical limitations that may restrict the techniques that are safe for you to receive and/or do to others.

If you are in pain or placed in a dangerous position, tap your partner, yourself or the mat so that your partner is aware that you wish him or her to stop. This means that the tap should be loud and/or distinctly felt. Another option is to use the word “mate,” pronounced “mah-tay.” This is the Japanese equivalent of the word “wait,” and indicates that you are in pain or unprepared to receive an art. (If not getting tori's attention yell STOP if necessary to get attention and protect yourself...because that is more natural compared to remembering mate in an emergency for both uki and tori.)

If you injure yourself, stop where you are and call the instructor over. All of our black belts are trained and certified in American Red Cross Standard First-Aid and CPR as well as athletic taping and Jujitsu restorative techniques. Please bring any and all injuries to sensei's immediate attention. DO NOT LEAVE THE MAT to attend to injuries without notifying the sensei as to why you are leaving the mat.

8. Joining/Leaving Classes in Progress
In order to join a class in progress, after the “mat has opened,” stand at the edge of the mat and wait for the instructor to bow you on. When you must leave before class is concluded tell the instructor you wish to bow off before leaving the mat. Whenever you leave the mat (regardless of the reason or expected duration), stand at the edge of the mat and make eye contact with the sensei. Wait for the sensei to bow to you before leaving the mat. The purpose behind making eye contact is so the instructor is aware of any possible injury that needs attention. Someone may leave unnoticed, and then pass out where they are not visible. Note that when the mat has opened the sensei has taken "ownership" of the mat and is responsible for what happens. Consequently, the sensei will be rather rigorous in regards to this custom.

9. Exit the Mat After Class by Rank
As a sign of respect for their elders and custom, students remain in seiza after the class has ended until all the higher-ranking instructors and students have bowed off the mat. Black belts bow off first, according to rank. Second, brown belts bow off, followed by green belts, blue belts, and finally, white belts. Once all members have bowed off the mat, a round of applause is given to congratulate everyone on their good performance on the mat.

10. The Art Stays on the Mat
Much of what we practice routinely with each other will seriously injure the uninitiated. It is not to be demonstrated or practiced on others outside of the dojo. The first rule of self-defense is to avoid situations that require self-defense.

In order to establish uniformity of standards for student participation, insure consistency of instruction, promulgate sportsmanship, perfect strength of character, and foster an abiding respect for the esoteric principles, which are the foundations of the art of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu, each instructor and each member shall be committed to the rules and ethics of Honshin Kan Martial Arts.

Each member of Honshin Kan Martial Arts is expected to exemplify the highest ideals inherent in the art of Jujitsu. Love of parents, respect for teachers and learning, honesty and gentleness - these are the obligations we owe to the community. Modesty, politeness, humility, simplicity, moderation in all things - these are the values we owe to ourselves. See The Esoteric Principles by our founder Professor Okazaki for more information.

It shall be grounds for removal from the association of any member, student, instructor, or dojo violating any of the following:
  1. Using or distributing illegal drugs. 
  2. Teaching or training while under the influence of any alcohol or drug which, in the opinion of the senior instructor, may cause harm to any member or student. 
  3. Advocating, exhibiting, or participating in any violent, unjustified, unwarranted, or unreasonable aggressive behavior towards any person, another's property, or any living thing. 
  4. Advocating or participating in any criminal offense. 
  5. Consistent disrespect for parents, teachers, the dojo, its instructors, or one's fellow students. 
  6. Consistent use of offensive or vulgar language. 
  7. Participating in gang activity or gang affiliation. 
  8. Advocating or participating in conduct intended to embarrass Honshin Kan, any dojo, any instructor, or a fellow student. 
  9. Unauthorized use of the name of “Honshin Kan Martial Arts” for profit. 
  10. Failing to abide by the rules and regulations governing members of the Honshin Kan Martial Arts.