Home dojo – a question of respect and loyalty

One very important issue discussed amongst the club membership at last Tuesday evening’s AGM was ‘home dojo’ etiquette.

As Maruyama Sensei says, “Aikido is not a sport, it’s a martial art; and the dojo is not a gymnasium, it is a special place.” Our view is that our dojo and every dojo whether it is ours or someone else’s, deserves our utmost respect.

Home dojo etiquette begins with loyalty to your own dojo and respect for its Head Dojo Instructor and fellow dojo members. Whilst you are free to train at any other dojo, you should never forget where home is, and where your loyalty lies.

Your home dojo is the only dojo where you grade, and follow the guidance of your Head Dojo Instructor. You have only one Head Dojo Instructor at any given time, not two or three.

Your home dojo is the one and only Aikido membership you should hold. When you train at another dojo, you should do so as a visitor representing your home dojo. It is always polite to ask its Head Dojo Instructor for permission to train there.

As a visitor, you should pay your due respects, and apart from any payment requested, it may also involve wearing a white belt, which conveys a message of humility. It signifys that you are only there to learn.

Your experience at that dojo should be simply one that contributes to your understanding of Aikido; and nothing more.

It is most impolite to train for years at your home dojo and grade at another dojo without discussion with your home dojo Chief Instructor.

If you feel that your loyalties lay elsewhere, or wish to leave your home dojo to follow the Head Dojo Instructor of another dojo, it is polite and respectful to inform your Head Dojo Instructor and formalise your leaving.

This etiquette is nothing new. It is one of the many aspects of politeness and respect that surrounds our art. We follow Maruyama Sensei’s Aikido Yuishinkai and accordingly, we must be mindful of all of the traditions and maintain the high standards expected of us.

As also discussed amongst our membership, we intend introducing a new class of membership this year to accommodate members of other clubs and to ensure that every visitor who steps on our mat is covered by our insurance.