Aikido Dojo Etiquette

Hiroshi Isoyama Shihan

Adapted from Aikido Dojo Etiquette (Reiho) 10 Points by Hiroshi Isoyama Shihan 8th Dan, Dojo cho Daiko, Ibaraki Shibu Dojo

1. The Reiho (etiquette) used in the dojo is the basic form of Reiho.
2. Be especially aware of the placement of the Kamiza and Shimoza in the dojo.
3. Throughout the world Rei creates a bridge – heart to heart – between you and your partner. Rei is the oil that smoothes the way of communication between people.
4. Rei makes you and your partner stand honestly face to face with each other.
5. Be aware that Rei is the expression of one’s heart.
6. It is important that with Rei, you and your partner show each other mutual respect.
7. Rei is a means to expressing your feelings of gratitude toward your partner.
8. It is very important to understand that Rei is a means to not create ill or unpleasant thoughts in your partners’ mind.
9. Rei must not only be applicable inside the dojo, but outside as well. Rei that is not useable outside the dojo cannot be called Rei.
10. Be aware that keiko begins and ends with Rei.

For foreign aikido practitioners: please note there are several terms that are used in Japanese, all regarding etiquette. Reiho: Rei means etiquette or manners, and ho means method. Reishiki: Rei means etiquette or manners, and shiki means custom, ceremony, exercise, i.e. a way of doing something.

Reigi is another word that pertains to correct etiquette. Rei means etiquette or manners, and gi means ceremony. Reishiki and reigi have much the same meaning, although there are always slight differences in the nuance of words in Japanese. Reiho, containing the Japanese word for method, has the nuance of the correct usage of Reigi.

Rei in itself also means to bow, so the saying in Japanese that “Keiko begins and ends with Rei” has two meanings: that one bows to begin keiko and one bows out at the end of keiko, as well as meaning that proper manners are the most important point – the beginning (the middle) and the end – in correct training.

Editors note: The term Kamiza refers to the front wall area of the dojo (North), where you normally will find a picture of O-Sensei, and other things representing Aikido. The opposite rear wall area is called Shimoza (South). Another use of the terms Kamiza – Shimoza is in reference to the right – left order when sitting, hereby making Kamiza the place furthest to the right and Shimoza furthest to the left. Many dojos refer to these two sides (East and West) as Joseki and Shimoseki, but according to the Ibaraki Shibu Dojo representatives the terms Kamiza and Shimoza are used.

1. The higher grades sit at Right-side Kamiza, and the lower grades at Left-side Shimoza (i.e. in descending order from right to left).
2. Regarding the ranking order, to discern who is higher ranked: (In the case of Shihan, it is the person who was first enrolled who is superior.)
a.) The person with the highest Dan rank.
b.) In the case of the same Dan rank, the person who received the rank first (according to the date on the diploma).
c.) In the case of having received the rank at the same time, the person who enrolled first.
d.) In the case of the same rank and same time of enrolment, the person who is oldest.
3. The Rei inside the dojo is in principle when performing Zarei (sitting bow) done together – at the same time towards each other.
4. You should not bow over the sill of a door or threshold.
5. You should always bow facing properly towards your partner.
6. You should always bow in proper reference to Kamiza and Shimoza (i.e. bow facing East and West, never with your rear to (front) Kamiza, or at an angle to Kamiza).
7. When in the dojo, you should not wear outerwear, scarves etc.
8. Unless under special circumstances, you should not wear tabi (Japanese socks) or socks inside the dojo.
9. Make sure to keep your keikogi clean at all times. The pleats of your hakama should be kept neat.
10. Women may wear a T-shirt underneath their keikogi. Men should refrain from wearing T-shirts under their keikogi.

Translated by Ethan Monnot Weisgard – Dojo-cho, Copenhagen Aiki Shuren Dojo.

About Takemusu Aikido South Africa

The Takemusu Aikido Association South Africa (TAASA), formally Iwama Ryu™ South Africa, is a free group of black-belted practitioners of Aikido based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our aim is to promote and spread the traditional teaching method of Morihiro Saito Sensei, direct student of the Founder of Aikido, to all communities in South Africa.