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Etiquette

Kendo is deeply rooted in tradition. Kendo etiquette, like many life lessons, are based on common sense and respect for others. This SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) within the dojo is intended to bring harmony so following a few simple rules goes a long way to preventing problems between club members. Beginners to kendo may find some of the things to remember quite daunting so here is a list of things to remember.


  • The place of practice, like with many other Japanese martial arts, is called the DOJO
  • Upon entering or exiting the dojo, remember to bow, or REI
  • Help to clean the dojo and prepare it for practice. You should feel embarassed if your seniors or teachers are doing it without you
  • No shoes are allowed in the dojo so please remember to remove them and place your shoes neatly outside. If you are wearing a hat, please remove it. Religious head-ware is permitted.
    The teacher, SENSEI, are the most senior and highly ranked instructors in the dojo. Respect all of them
  • Seniors, SEMPAI, are there to assist you - know who they are
  • Kendo does not display rank like other martial arts. It is the responsiblity of all dojo members to know who their sempai and sensei are; insulting either is not advisable
  • Do not touch the armour (BOGU) or sword (SHINAI) of anyone in the dojo. This is considered highly disrespectful
  • Do not step over, kick, or otherwise move a person's shinai. Instead walk around or ask permission to move the shinai if necessary
  • Generally speaking it is impolite to pass in front of someone wearing bogu when seated. These are senior members or sensei of the dojo. Please pass behind them, but if space does not permit, pass in front with right arm extended and palm facing in with body slightly bowed while saying "excuse me", "permisi", or better yet learn the Japanese term.
  • Be polite
  • When lining up, please line up according to rank (most senior to the left) with beginners lining up behind those in bogu.
  • Conditions in our dojo can create situations of dehydration. Please remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after practice
    Pay attention at all times. This is vitally important as you are there to learn. If you have to keep asking sensei to repeat what he is saying or teaching, then you are wasting not only his time, but the time of your classmates. Be considerate.
  • As a Japanese martial art, terms are in Japanese. Learn the terms
  • Learn to put on your bogu quickly. It is impolite to keep people waiting, especially sensei.
    The shinai is not a toy. Do not play with it or use it as a support. The shinai represents your soul, respect the shinai and yourself
  • The parts of the bogu are the men (helmet), do (breast-plate), kote (gauntlet), tare (groin and abdomen protector). Your practice jacket and pants are called gi and hakama, respectively. Learn these terms.
  • Practice what you are taught, nothing more. IF you learn another way to do something, good for you - keep it to yourself and keep practicing what you are taught.
  • Each sensei is different - listen to each and do what they say. Do not argue with sensei
  • If you are doing keiko and are getting tired, politely ask your partner to either do ippon (single point) or kirikaeshi (suburi drill) to finish up.
    Due to conditions in our dojo, removal of the men for bogu wearers is permitted between keiko. However, please be reminded that you are required to put on your men as quickly as possible. If you must drink water, drink it outside; try to refrain from drinking inside the dojo.
  • At the end of practice, say "thank you", "terima kasih", or "domo-arigato gosaemas" to each of the sensei that attended practice, whether your practiced with them or not. Respect of elders and seniors is an important etiquette and cultural point to remember
  • Help clean up the dojo after practice. 
  • Remember that every dojo is different and there are likely to be unfamiliar practices in each. Please learn the rules of a dojo by asking or following what is going on. Your actions reflect directly on your dojo and your sensei(s) - DO NOT EMBARASS EITHER.