How To Behave In A Traditional Dojo


The dojo is very special place. Unlike any other martial
arts school or gym. And in today’s video you’re gonna learn about the correct behavior,
manners, and etiquette of a traditional Japanese dojo. Keep watching. (upbeat music) What’s up I’m Jesse from karatebyjesse.com aka the Karate Nerd and today I am joined by my very good friend sensei Yusuke right here in Tokyo, Japan. Thank you so much for having me here. No problem. And I’m looking forward to
hearing what you have planned for today’s content
because a lot of foreigners love to come to Japan and
practice in a real dojo. But there are many things that
they need to consider, right? Yes there are. So, let’s take it from the beginning. What is the first thing
that somebody needs to keep in mind in a traditional dojo? When you go in to a Japanese
household in general, you have to take off your shoes, put the heel side close to you. And then you bow. Yes.
Correct? So you put the shoes
down, get your jacket, everything on your shoulders down. Pull that to your side and bow. (Japanese music) And is there anything
special you should be saying as you bow when you enter the dojo? So you say, “Shitsurei shimasu”. And what is the
translation of this phrase? Excuse me, I guess. Okay, like may I enter? Yes, may I enter. And then what is the next step? After you’ve entered the dojo, what should you think about then? So, I guess there are, if there’s a senpai or a
sensei already inside the dojo, before doing anything, you go to them and you say konichiwa or combobble a word a few times, correct? And if there nobody there,
then you put your stuff down but there is a point
that you should consider when putting your stuff down. You don’t wanna throw it on the ground. You wanna place it nicely on the ground. (Japanese music) Is there a specific order
you should put things? I wouldn’t say there’s a order but let’s say you’re
putting down something. Let’s say you’re putting down your belt and if there are lines on the floor, then I guess you wanna
put it alongside the line. You don’t want it to be like this. Okay, so it should be kind of neat and. Yeah.
Yeah, okay. Interesting. Okay, so then you probably
get start getting changed. You put on your karategi and your belt and then you head into practice. Yes. So then when everything
starts, usually people line up for the traditional bow, the seiza, and what are things that people
should know about the bow? So, I mean, this is also
different between dojos but I guess the two
common steps that we take is that we bow to the front
and we bow to each other. Right. So those are your two steps. And when we bow to the front, the sensei, or the oldest person in the dojo will say, “Shomen ni rei” which means to the front and then he will say “Rei”
which means bow, so we bow. And then after that we bow to each other. So, if the sensei is behind you, then the students turn around. And he’ll say “Otagai ni rei”. Otagai ni means to each other so then rei is the same word so we bow to each other. And then, you also keep
bowing during training when you find a partner for example. So how does that work? For starting, let’s say you’re
doing a sparring practice. Before you do the actual sparring you say, (speaking Japanese) Ah, I see. Which means. Oh this is a hard one. It’s a difficult term, right? Yeah, um (speaks Japanese). Like mutual respect, right? Yeah, to show respect to the Please teach me or please train me. Yeah, let’s have a good
lesson or a good practice. (Japanese music) (screaming) And when we’re done with the
lesson or the practice section we say, “Arigato gozaimasu”. Right, which of course just means thank you very much.
Thank you. (Japanese music) And what are other
considerations in the dojo? So, I guess the common mistake people make is that when a senpai or someone older, or a sensei, who’s a teacher, is watching someone train or do
something, you’re not allowed to cross in front of their eyes. So you don’t wanna block their view. So the sensei or whoever
is higher rank than you should have a clear visible line. Yes. So when you go, when you
have to go in front of them, you can go down. Oh, you duck under? Duck under or it’s the best
if there’s space behind them, you just go behind them. (Japanese music) So what if you want or if you
need help from the sensei? Should you be like hey
sensei come over here. Or is that wrong? You have to go to the sensei
and say (speaking Japanese) which means can I have your moment please. Hey sensei, how’s my kara? Give me advice. (Japanese music) And a common thing that I have noticed is that when westerners or
foreigners come to Japan and practice, they expect
a lot of positive feedback from the sensei. They want a lot of encouragement. Yeah that’s good keep doing that. But this more of a western thing, right? Yes. In my experience, a Japanese sensei will not tell you that much
and if he tell you something it’s what you’re doing bad, right? So if a sensei doesn’t like you, he will just ignore you, right? But if he likes you he will tell you everything you’re doing wrong. But a western might see
it as the opposite way. They think the sensei doesn’t like them. I mean, I think it comes
from a cultural background where we don’t really give them positive feedback all the time. So, maybe he’ll point out problems and once it’s fixed he’ll
say it’s a little better now. A little better. Not it’s good. It’s just a little better. I guess it all depends on the sensei. Yeah. So what do you think are
other common mistakes that a western might make in the dojo? Let’s say during the practice
you’re allowed to sit down. When you sit down first, you
sit down in this position called seiza. Like we’re in right now. Yes. And since this position
is hard for some people, you can sit down in, what’s it called? With your legs crossed? With your legs crossed. You bow down. Right. You say, “Shitsureishimasu”
when you do it which means please excuse myself. And you’re allowed to Oh my god, I thought you would never (laughter) Sit down like this. So this is more informal, right? Yeah. So if a sensei tells you to sit down you should start with the seiza. Seiza and the sensei will
tell you please feel relaxed or please sit down relax position and then you say, “Shitsureishimasu” and then you sit down like this. So, what if somebody sits
like this or like this No. Or like this. No, no, absolutely not. That’s a big no no. No, no, you’re not supposed to do that. Because it’s disrespectful right? Yeah. It’s always like this. It’s either this or the seiza. Those are the only two. Only two. Or you stand up.
Or you stand up. Right, exactly. If you’re, yeah, like you were doing. If you have your legs
straight or your knees up. I think knee up would be like
the most taboo things to do. Really? So, yeah you can’t have
like, be like this. So always, yeah sit like that. And this is a problem because many people especially in today’s
society are very stiff because they sit down a lot. So their hips are tight. Their hamstrings are tight. They can barely sit in these positions so start stretching guys. (laughter) Definitely. You can have your hands down here but then I mean, this is a cultural Japanese thing but this would be unacceptable. Really? But then, I guess, this would be okay. If you come to Japan you have to consider those little things. Yes.
Yeah. And these are the things that people who have never been to
Japan might never understand ’cause it’s so woven into
the texture of the culture and the society. Yes. But stuff like this,
these kinds of nuances, are what can take your
karate to the next level. Make your complete practition. So, what else? I guess one topic would
be wearing your t-shirt. So you are allowed to wear a t-shirt during the summer season ’cause it gets really humid and hot in Japan. Okay, so let’s clarify this. You can wear a t-shirt
in the summer season. When it’s humid and hot. Right. (Japanese music) However, when you start a lesson
and when you end a lesson, you bow to the front and
you bow to each other. During that time, you
have to wear your judogi. (Japanese music) That’s the most formal time of the lesson. So you have to have this on. Okay, and does it have
to be a white t-shirt? Can it be a pink or a yellow t-shirt? No, I don’t think there’s any limitations. Okay, and do you keep the belt on when you wear the t-shirt? You can depending, I think you should. In my personal opinion I think you should. So you finish a lesson. You bow off. You go to the changing room and maybe you wanna have a little
snack after training. Is it okay to eat in the dojo? No.
No. You wanna keep the tatami
or the mat very clean. So, you don’t wanna be spilling
everything on the tatami. So, when you eat or when
you drink something, make sure you’re off to the side. (Japanese music) So tired. Me too, man. (Japanese music) (laughter) I’ve also heard that it’s very important that you always run in the dojo. Is that true? Well, I wouldn’t say
you have to be running like you’re running much but you wanna be let’s say the sensei calls you
In a hurry. you don’t wanna be just walking slowly. You wanna be there as quick as possible so it’d be like jogging
pace would be nice. Because you don’t wanna waste time or is it something to do with respect? Respect-wise and time-wise I guess. Exactly. So, don’t be a lazy bastard in the dojo. Make sure you move with haste. Right. And how about talking in the dojo? Some students love to just
talk, talk, talk, talk and they don’t do a lot of training. Is this good? No, I don’t think so. I’ve heard the term kuchi bushi. Have you heard this? It’s like a warrior. People that just talk
but don’t really train. I guess, yeah, I mean,
thing, when you’re practicing when practicing karate in general, I don’t think there’s any time to talk because they’re in the
Kihon which is the basics. There’s no one in front of you so if you’re talking that’s
like talking to yourself. Which makes no sense and I guess, when you do Kata, that’s gonna
become individual practice. So it’s possible for
you to go to your friend and be like, you know, what
do you think about this or you might be talking
about I guess a TV show. If it’s related to karate, then I think you’re welcome to talk about it. If it’s not related to karate
then just save that for later. But also like you said,
and especially for people who only practice maybe
two or three times a week, you don’t wanna waste that time. You wanna make sure you
get in as much repetition and training as possible. So how about when you finish training? Are there specific points
to take into consideration instead of just running out of the dojo and going home? Right, so, there are two points. Number one, you have to
say goodbye and thank you for the lesson. So, you say this to
someone older than you. So that would be your
senpai or their sensei. And so you go up to them and
say, “Arigatogozaimashita” which means thank you and
then you say (speaks Japanese) which means I will excuse myself. So those two words. (speaks Japanese) And then bow and then you leave. And number two would be
cleaning up the place. So let’s say you put the bag down and then you got all your karate mats. The meds that you used. Like your head gear and
mouth gear and all that. You have to put it back to where it was. So, when you leave the dojo
it has to be really clean. Like the way it was when
you walked into the dojo. So you wanna restore
everything so it’s perfect next time you come then
and wanna start training. So do you run with the towels? I’ve seen that in some dojos. I think yeah some would do that. And some just sweep it with a broom. I think that defers. Okay, and who does the cleaning? Especially the youngest
one has to be, you know, The newest students. Right, but then, I mean, the
older people can help out too but it’s usually the youngest
one that does it first. I see. (indistinct chatter) (laughter) Just say it, just say it. And let’s say you’re the
last one to leave the dojo. You close the windows,
shut the lights down, turn the AC if there’s AC turn it off, turn the fan off, do all
that stuff, close the door, get the keys done, and
then you get to leave. And don’t lose the keys. Yeah don’t lose the keys. Been there, done that. (Japanese music) So I hope you guys enjoyed this so you can now finally
learn what it’s like when you visit a real traditional dojo ’cause these things are super important and it’s all about respect and humility. Thank you so much sensei for having me and I hope to do more
videos in the future. See you guys next time. Cool.

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