Titles, Courtesy & Safety in the Dojo

Kouketsu Dojo Student Manual

SENSEI: Sensei is a Japanese word meaning “teacher”. It is also used to refer to a person who is not a teacher, but is accorded a similar kind of respect. These people typically include professional people like a doctor or lawyer. In a karate dojo, “sensei” is the title of the instructor. In Japanese, the title comes after the name. Therefore if Mr. X were a karate instructor in Japan, he would be referred to as “X Sensei”. In the West, most titles come before the name, therefore; Mr. X may be referred to as “Sensei X”. Either way is acceptable. However, I think that it is also perfectly acceptable to address the teacher using the terms such as Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. Or Sir/Ma’am. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that you should behave towards the karate teacher as you would any other teacher. Treat them with respect and kindness and they will likely do the same for you.

No two Dojo’s are exactly alike. Some may do things very similar to what we do, while others will do things completely differently. When in doubt, act as if you were in a University classroom. Be polite and treat others courteously.

Failure to comply with the rules of the dojo will result in suspensions and/or loss of privileges. The rules are intended to protect you, your fellow students, and your instructors.

COURTESY: Remaining courteous at all times is one of the keys of training in a karate dojo. It is important that common courtesy is displayed between student and student and also between student and teacher (both ways). Remember that you do not demand respect you must earn it. Actions speak louder than words on this point. Treat everyone, whether you out rank them or not, as you would wish to be treated.

When beginning an exercise with a new partner or bowing to the instructor before class, you may say either “Osu” or “Onegai Shimasu”.

CRITIQUE: It is okay to criticize. Karate is not perfect and neither are the instructors who teach it. There are flaws. Karate can be improved and so can the teaching methods. However, the only criticism that is accepted in the dojo is constructive criticism. Disagreeing with the instructor or other students is okay if it is done in an intelligent manner. We do not expect you to regurgitate everything we say and do as if you were a robot. Think for yourself. Remember though, if you criticize something, be prepared to back it up with evidence. Criticizing something you know nothing about is dangerous. In other words, if you are going to criticize, make sure you know what you are talking about and you are capable of defending your position.

QUESTIONS: Some instructors allow their students to ask questions during class, while others do not. I personally encourage anybody to ask questions. However, it is important to think about your question before you ask it. Asking a question that was answered two minutes earlier will try the patience of the instructor. It is also important to ask questions that are appropriate to your rank. For example, a beginner should think twice before answering a question about an advanced kata. Generally, limit your technical questions to subjects that you have been introduced to previously. During class, please limit the questions to the topic being taught or discussed in that particular class. You may ask questions on any topic you like before or after class.

Safety, Health and Hygene are important in literally all aspects of life, both personal and professional. However, due to the nature of what we do, it is especially vital in the martial arts. As responsible instructors, we need to ensure the security and safety of our students as effectively as possible, in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

SAFETY: The area of safety in our dojo is our most fundamental concern. We have put safety in the highest regard to make our program safer and more enjoyable for our students. Please read the following safety rules and policies carefully. They were designed for your safety and well-being, and the overall implementation of a high quality martial arts program

Safety Glasses: may be worn during class. However, during any free sparring exercises, glasses are usually removed. Soft contact lenses may be worn at the student’s own responsibility.

Contact: All classes are not “full-contact”. This however does not mean that there is no contact between the participants. There will be contact when one student blocks another student’s attack. However, this contact must always be controlled and limited to the areas specified by the instructor. Under no circumstances will excessive contact be permitted other than to block an attack. Contact to the joints, instep, back, throat, face, neck, groin, chest, abdomen, and ribs must be done in a controlled manner. It is extremely important that you learn to control your distance. Your safety and your partner’s safety depend on it.

Under no circumstances, will any karate student provoke violence outside of the dojo. The karate taught in class is to be used only in self-defense or other exceptional circumstances.

Sparring will only occur under the supervision of a qualified instructor. Unless otherwise indicated by the instructor, you do not have permission to spar on your own in the dojo. You must also obtain permission to compete in any dojo-sponsored tournaments, clinics, seminars, or examinations.

You do not require permission to participate in any event not sanctioned by this dojo. However, it is strongly recommended that you discuss any desire to participate in another organizations event with your instructor. If you wish to attend another dojo, it is your decision. You do not require permission from the instructor to do this. Membership in this dojo does not preclude any other memberships. However, informing the instructor of your decision will be appreciated.

HEALTH AND HYGENE:Health and hygiene are very important in the martial arts. Everyone, students and instructors alike should try and make themselves as presentable as possible for training sessions. Personal hygiene means that you and your clothing are clean and tidy (Nobody wants to train with a partner who has smelly feet because they haven't washed them, or bad breath because they haven't brushed their teeth, etc) Practitioners will also need to keep their clothing clean and in a good state of repair. If you don't wash your kit regularly, then it will stink! Use your head and get a spare budogi if you need one.

Finger and toe nails need to be trim and tidy, there should NOT be loads of Gel in the hair, and all jewellery should be removed (on the rare occasions where this is not possible for some reason or other, then they must be "taped" over") this helps to both reduce the risk of possible injury while at the same time helping to protect valuable items from becoming damaged. So, no blood or tears shed! It is also important for instructors to become informed about certain health issues such as athletes foot and varucas, as well as the much more serious issue of Hepatitis, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, etc. Needless to say: food and drink should not be allowed, unless express permission is given from the club instructor.

If a student turns up with an injury or illness which might effect their training and/or the security and well being of other people on the mat, then it falls to the instructor to refuse them entry to the class, no matter how much they might protest: You can end up compromising literally all of your Health and Safety measures, including your insurance arrangements, if you let someone train who is not fit to do so. Be careful. If in doubt, then err on the side of caution. Cleaning materials and utensils will be required in order to keep the dojo in a clean and tidy state. However, most cleansing agents can be dangerous, and so need to be stored in accordance with the law. The club instructor must ensure that any and all substances kept upon the premises remain in there original containers with the relevant hazard data attached, and that they are stored in a secure area well out of the way of young hands. The aspect of Health and Safety Law that deals with such materials is called COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) and this should be referred to for any clarification. It should also be remembered that any area undergoing cleaning may have to be cordoned off by the appropriate hazard signs if it poses any kind of potential threat to other people e.g. a wet floor, etc.


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