The atmosphere in the dojo is warm but serious at the same time. When people enter the dojo (training hall), they get a feeling this is a serious place, an institution of serious learning. The first thing students do upon entering is to bow at the door and remove their footwear. After changing into their dogi (training uniform), students bow again as they enter the training floor.
Before class commences, everyone lines up in a straight line and faces the Shomen (front of school) in seiza (traditional sitting pose) for a short mokuso (meditation). When “mokuso yame!” (meditation finish) is called, everyone bows to the front (Shomen ni rei!) to pay respect to Master Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate. The Sensei (teacher) then turns around and everyone bows to him (Sensei ni rei!), then everyone bows to the black belts (Senpai ni rei!). When bowing to the Sensei and Senpais at the beginning of class, everyone harmoniously announces with a strong tone of voice, “o negai shimasu” (I humbly request).
Classes always begin with a short 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).
DOJO KUN (training hall oath)
Seek perfection of character (Hitotsu: Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto)
Be faithful (Hitotsu: Makoto no michi wo mamoru koto)
Endeavor (Hitotsu: Doryoku no seishin wo yashinau koto)
Respect others (Hitotsu: Reigi wo omonzuru koto)
Refrain from violent behavior (Hitotsu: Kekki no yuu wo imashimuru koto)
Formal titles are used with all instructors and senior black belt students. First name address is not appropriate etiquette for the dojo and should not be used with senior ranks (all black belts). The Sensei (teacher) should always be referred to as Sensei and all other black belts should be addressed as Senpai. This is a sign of respect for all who have earned the coveted black belt. First names may be used for students below black belt.
Clean white uniforms with the appropriate color belt and school emblem is the uniform of the dojo and is the only apparel allowed on the training floor.