A dojo, by the nature of the activity that takes place in these schools of
martial arts, requires a higher degree of amiability and cooperation among
it’s residents. That is then reason for the discipline instilled in the
students, by the Sensei's (Teachers). Therefore, the teachers apply a mode of
discipline that is normally uncommon in any other undertaking or endeavor, in
If a student enters a traditional Isshin-ryu dojo, they will be subject to the rules and regulations of Dojo Etiquette. Regarding youngsters, I have found that this discipline, which in some ways parallels the Code of the ancient Samurais, will have a positive effect upon these young people. Often, in this era especially, but also in the past, young people are self willed beyond their capability to know what is best for them and are at an age and in an environment where they are spoiled beyond their parents ability to change their attitude. They may even have subtly taken control of their home environment. Often, over decades, I have had parents come to me, with thanks for bringing discipline to their children’s lives and making them a constructive personality, doing well in both the home and school settings.
Either the Master of the dojo, or a Sensei of lower rank, who is a student of the Master, will take new students aside. They will be given a copy of the Master’s Manual for Isshin-ryu, The Art of Combat Fighting. It will entail everything that they are about to learn, including dojo etiquette.
First, the student will be instructed to always conduct themselves
in a courteous manner to their peers and, especially to those of higher rank. If
they are seeking specific knowledge of a portion of some aspect of the art, that
they have just learned, they may approach the Instructors. If the Instructor is
speaking to someone else at the time, they must wait patiently and quietly,
without interrupting the Instructor. When the Instructor finishes his
conversation, the student should bow to the Instructor and then ask their
question, starting by using the title of the individual he is addressing and,
simultaneously bowing, with hands at their sides. If the student is not
addressing an Instructor but is questioning a higher rank Kyu (student rank), he
should still bow and start with Mr. “Doe,” I was hoping that you could help
me with the fifth basic exercise, or whatever information the student seeks. If
they are going to ask one of the Instructors (Dan rank) they should know the
proper appellation of the specific Dan they are approaching. It is always proper
to address an Instructor as Sensei (Teacher). In traditional Isshin-ryu a Dan
must be at least a third Dan or San Dan, in order to become recognized as a
teacher. He is then respectfully called Sensei. Often, there will be only one
Sensei at a dojo. But in a dojo such as Master Passero’s, or
· The attire of the student will be an official Gi (Uniform), closed properly and spanned by an obi that certifies the students present rank. This uniform will display the Mizu-Gami Patch of Tatsuo Shimabuku’s design, on the left side of the Gi top. In Mr. McGrath’s school, the students will also wear the Master’s school insignia, “The Essence Patch” on the upper right arm of the Gi top. The Gi will be freshly washed and pressed, after each workout.
· Students will not speak amongst each other, while being instructed by one of the Sensei's. This is distracting to the Instructors and will not be tolerated. No student, without being acknowledged first by the Instructor, should interrupt an instructor to ask a question or look for further clarity of the discussion. If not acknowledged by the Instructor, the student should wait for a break or at the end of the session, approach the Instructor and ask their question.
· When coming on or leaving the deck, the student must face the picture of the Soke of Isshin-ryu, Tatsuo Shimabuku and bow, reverently. This is not a religious practice, but, simply a display of appreciation and caring, in regard for the gift of Isshin-ryu, which the Soke created. Under any circumstance no one should enter or leave the deck without a bow of respect.
· No running, whistling or any other show of disrespect will take place upon the deck.
· During Ippon Kumite or Ju-Kumite, the students will remain quiet, without comment, while listening to the instruction of the Sensei on the deck. Follow the instruction you are given during either of these sessions, so that you do not create a dangerous atmosphere for yourself or other students. Both of these disciplines require your concentration to rule out mistakes or injury, no matter how slight. Among students, only brown belts may utilize these techniques without full supervision. Brown belts are proficient enough to practice with great care and understanding.
· Animosity of any kind amongst students, will not be tolerated. Grudges, internal grievances will be brought to the attention of the Sensei's and settled by them. A group of karate-ka in a dojo is considered to be members of a family and to act as such. It will not be a dysfunctional family. Anyone who sows seeds of discontent, on a continuous basis, will be dismissed from the dojo.
· When attending class, all students will leave all jewelry at home, in order to circumvent any scratches or cuts, due to rings, etc. during Ippon or Ju-Kumite. This will also keep anyone from losing or having another student remove another students property. Any student who is caught stealing or damaging property of another student will be dismissed and the dojo will inform the police of the incident. There must be clear and total trust in the dojo amongst students. Students will also see that their finger and toe nails are cut short to avoid scratches that might cause infection. Your body must also be clean for each session.
· During JU-Kumite, the students will remain quiet and without comment during the matches. The contestants will neither make remarks to the judges or their opponent. Dissing another student is considered out of order for the martial arts and outside of the Isshin-ryu attitude, within a dojo. All matches will be supervised and the opponents will use safety equipment. Light to medium contact to the body is anticipated, but only the lightest contact to the head will be allowed. All students will wear head safety gear and gloves. Instructors will not allow techniques to critical or dangerous areas, such as, the groin, back of the neck, eyes, throat, kidneys or knees.
· During class and especially while being instructed, students will not be allowed to leave the deck, without gaining the Instructors attention, telling them the reason for leaving the deck and obtaining permission to do so.
· In all things, students will be guided in all that they do, at the dojo, by the “Golden Rule,” “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.”
Outside of the dojo, the “Golden Rule” should guide your
contact with strangers. Unless you are attacked, the Instructors rely upon all
of the students to avoid altercations, arguments and confrontations, if at all
possible, without being harmed by an assailant. A good friend of mine, Ed Parker
the original head of Kempo karate in the
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