When one enters the dojo, whether as a member, an employee, or a spectator, there are certain protocols to follow and practices to observe.

Elite Martial Arts & Fitness isn’t just a place to exercise. It is a place of learning and growing. Yes, we are here to get fit, but we are also  here to learn the forms of martial arts. We are also hoping to grow as an individual by gaining wisdom and virtue.

Here are some practices to remember and the reasons behind them next time you are at the dojo:

Take Your Shoes Off at the Door

This is just good sense (not just because we will be met by the wrath of Sensei Marie). Very much a Japanese practice, taking one’s shoes off is a sign of respect when entering someone’s home. It isn’t just to eliminate mess, but it also symbolizes ‘leaving your troubles at the door’. When we enter the dojo, we are coming to learn with an open mind, leaving behind the baggage and problems of the day.


No matter how many times we enter or exit the dojo it is imperative that we bow towards the shomen wall. We must learn to appreciate the reason for the bow. There is more to just bowing physically. Students must understand the respect, appreciation, and gratitude felt in every bow.

In bowing we are acknowledging the past, present, and future of karate. We are also expressing gratitude of everything the dojo has to offer.

How do we bow?

  • Feet are together
  • Legs are straight
  • Arms should be at your sides and touching the sides of your thighs
  • Hands should be open and facing downward along the seam of your gi with your fingers and thumb together
  • Bend forward at the waist to about 45 degrees, keep your eyes looking downward and do not let your arms move or leave your side
  • Pause for a second at the bottom of the bow
  • Unbend

Perform the bow with the utmost courtesy and respect.

We also bow at the beginning and end of every class, towards the instructor and the shomen wall.

Respecting the Sensei

If you are in need of an attitude adjustment, be careful. You may get one in the form of burpees or push-ups. All that each and every sensei asks is for everyone to be respectful. Mind that your fellow students are there to learn and that your sensei is there to share their knowledge with you. Listen to the advice being offered. Be grateful for their time and wisdom.

Little Things Mean a Lot

Body language and small nuances can sometimes symbolize great things. Remember the following while in the dojo:

Don’t ever stand with your hands on your hips or your arms crossed – just stand in a respectful Hachiji position

Turn away from instructor and shomen wall and kneel on one knee wall to fix your belt or gi

Answer when the sensei asks you a question

Try not to cross in front of other students, always walk behind them

When crossing in front in unavoidable, turn around to bow to the person you crossed in front of

Humility and Teamwork

Even though martial arts is often perceived as an individual sport, focusing on personal bests, specific progress and enhancement, there is also an element of martial arts that focuses on teamwork. The dojo works as a community, a family. We practice together, grow together and encourage one another. The spirit of competition is great and healthy, but the competition isn’t about bringing the other person down. Competition within the dojo is about being YOUR BEST, rising above challenges and overcoming obstacles. In order to be successful, it is important to work hard and listen to others. Be receptive to the advice of instructors and look to examples set by those of higher belt rankings. And, respect the idealism and basic training of the white belt too. We all started there, with the same foundation and hope of one day becoming a black belt.