The actual meaning of the word DOJO is ‘place of the way’.
The origin of the term ‘DOJO’ we find in the Buddhist monastery. It was the prayer- and meditation room of the monks. Therefore the behaviour in the DOJO is not as in a regular sports or gym hall. We go into a DOJO to work on ourselves, to complete and perfect ourselves by way of continuous study, repeating, exercising, etc… It’s ‘THE WAY’ of the warrior that we follow in the DOJO. This is not the way of fighting, but the way to perfection, in function of protecting life with the aim to control our own body and mind. It’s not looking for the fight but the method to avoid the fight.
The right behaviour in the DOJO is therefore very complex and can change in according to different circumstances. We all know that we don’t act the same way in a restaurant then in your living room. The same is for the DOJO. Many of the old Japanese habits are applied in the DOJO. Most rules are general for every existing DOJO, but every DOJO can have extra independent rules. It’s impossible and useless to write everything down on paper but you can find the most important ones in summary.
-Respect comes in the first place. Respect you, others and the things you see, learn or use. Without respect you will not be able to open yourself for all the good things that you can learn from yourself or from others.
Make ‘REI’ when you:
• Enter or leave the DOJO
• Enter or leave the TATAMI
• Start or finish practising with your partner
• Are delayed and the ‘SENSEI’ allows you to join the training
• Ask the ‘SENSEI’ an explanation.
-Keep the DOJO always clean. You have to imagine that the DOJO is the place where we want to clean our inner self. Therefore a clean DOJO is absolute necessary. Always leave the DOJO as you did find it before training.
-Empty your mind before the course. Just like you cannot put tea in a full cup of tea, you cannot learn new things with a full mind.
-Always wear a clean and correct training outfit (keiko-gi) according to the art you practice.
-Try to be in the DOJO before the teacher (sensei) does. This way you can be an example for others or learn from them.
-Do not enter or leave the training without the agreement of the Sensei.
-Put your slippers (zori) at the side of the tatami pointed away from the tatami.
-Always sit straight when you are on the tatami, in ‘SEIZA’ or with your legs crossed in front of you.
-Keep your nails short to avoid injuries during training.
-You enter the TATAMI only barefooted or with socks.
Where to sit in the DOJO:
Traditionally, a DOJO obeys to rules concerning the orientation. The honorific side, KAMIZA (upper side) is placed to the south. KAMIZA is usually decorated with calligraphy, swords, and pictures of a master or any symbol of the discipline taught. The teacher sit down back turned to the KAMIZA. It's on this side where is placed a famous guest. The wall facing the KAMIZA, is the SHIMOZA (lower side), where the student sit down. The students are ordered, from the most ancient rank to the newest in the DOJO or in the discipline. The oldest students are on the left of the teacher (on the east), the beginners are on the west. It's also on the west where are placed the visitors, while the teacher assistants sit down back turn to the east side of the room.
This orientation has a symbolic meaning. Sitting face to the south, the teacher receives directly the light of the sun, which is the knowledge he has to give. The Student, can see the light only through the reflexion that give the teacher, who has to be the mirror the most faithful as possible. The oldest student is on the side of rising sun: from their seniority, they started to essential principles of the discipline whereas the beginners are still in the shadow.
The place of the guest next to the beginners is a historical heritage. When rival schools exist, place the guest from the beginner's side far from the senior gave difficulties to spy, sent by other school to see the particular techniques of the DOJO (all the techniques were said to be secret).