Harbor City Dojo

2225 S Babcock St in Melbourne, FL

Basic Dojo Etiquette 

Martial Arts follow a system of etiquette, which is a set of guidelines to practice when you are in the dojo (practice hall).  We observe etiquette for many reasons: for safety, to show courtesy to our partners and teachers, to maintain our dojo, to keep our classes going smoothly, and to help us focus mentally on practice.  We consider etiquette part of training, so we ask that you begin following these guidelines as you begin, and continue, your training with us:


Come to class with a clean body and clean gi (uniform).  There is a great deal of contact with others in class, and that contact is much more pleasant when our partners and we are clean and free of body odor. Pay particular attention to your hands, which make contact most with our training partners, and to your feet, which contact the tatami (mat).  If you have any foot fungal conditions, please wear socks and martial arts shoes (shoes worn only in the dojo ...not outside) so you don't infect others.  Our hands, feet, faces and bodies constantly come into contact with the tatami: if your feet are medically compromised with an athletes foot condition or such, it puts everyone else at risk of contracting it.       

To prevent tracking dirt onto the tatami, please wear sandals, shoes or flip flops to and from the changing area.  Do not walk on the tatami with shoes unless they are martial arts shoes that are worn only in the dojo.

Please do not wear heavy, overpowering colognes or perfumes.  Mostly this is because some folks may be allergic, however others may just not like it.  Please keep makeup to a minimum so that it will not find its way onto the gi of your training partner or onto the tatami.


Please keep your fingernails and toenails trimmed.  They both can easily cut someone else, and have been known to break doing throws.  

Always strive to avoid accidents.  When you practice, pay attention to your surroundings so you may avoid colliding with other students.  If you accidentally collide with another student, bow to that student and his/her partner and say “excuse me”.  Then resolve to pay better attention to distancing yourself and your partner from them so it will not happen again.

Take responsibility for the safety of your partner, not just yourself.

Practice at a level that is comfortable to you and to your training partner.

As much as possible, practice in a steady, smooth manner.  Quick, jerky movements can be unpleasant and possibly dangerous to a beginning student who happens to be on the receiving end.

Refrain from conversation, since it distracts both you and your partner from hearing proper instructions. 

NEVER retaliate by hitting, kicking or purposely hurting someone, even if you feel they were too rough with you.  This is cause for immediate removal from the tatami and possibly from the class.  If several warnings have been given regarding this, you will be asked to leave class permanently.  If someone is being too rough with you, ask them to ease up.  If there is still a problem, discuss it with your Sensei.


Bowing in a seated posture (seiza) is the most formal and common way to bow while on the tatami.  When you are off the tatami, bow from a standing position.

Bow to the resike (front of class) when first entering the dojo.

Bow to the center of the tatami when first stepping on the tatami to train.  Again, bow when stepping off the tatami at the end of class. 
Before and after class, line up in rank order (higher ranks to your right) facing the front of the dojo.
Bow to each new partner before you start practicing together.  When you change partners, bow to your former partner (thanking them), and then bow to your new partner.
After a sensei instructs you or your partner individually, bow to the sensei saying an appropriate Japanese phrase (e.g. “ Domo arrigato, Sensei”, or “Onegai shimasu, Sensei”).

Other Important Points

If you have a question while a technique is being demonstrated, raise your hand and wait until the sensei acknowledges you.  Then bow and ask your question.  Following the reply, bow and thank the sensei.