Covina Kendo Dojo


Kendo Etiquette

At Covina Kendo Dojo, instructors teach on a voluntary basis. All costs goes towards supporting the facility so that we have a practice space. As such, we ask that you observe basic rules in the dojo.

The basic etiquette is known as reigi, and while different martial arts may have different protocols, the idea of reigi is universal.

ETIQUETTE (REIGI) (taken from the SCKF 1996 AUSKF Team Commemorative Booklet)

Etiquette is an extremely important part of Kendo. The basic rules come from the formal, highly stylised social system of Japan. Simply stated, Kendo etiquette is based on respect -- for one's Sensei, seniors, equipment, etc.

In practice, it is not that simple. There is a prescribed method for virtually every action, and failure to adhere to proper behaviour may be taken as a sign of poor instruction or, in some cases, as a severe insult. It is essential to know basic etiquette in Kendo.

Basic Etiquette in the Dojo
  1. Never deliver the traditional courtesies in a casual, off-hand manner.
  2. Stop and bow when entering or leaving a dojo.
  3. Greet your seniors and fellow Kenshi eagerly at the first opportunity, especially the Sensei. Examples: ohayou gozaimasu (good morning), kon'nichi wa (good day), konban wa (good evening). Do this as well when leaving the dojo. This is called "ai-satsu".
  4. When addressing instructors, use the title "Sensei" after their last name.
  5. Be attentive; listen carefully to instructions, and respond promptly.
  6. Be aware of senior members and follow their lead. Do not sit down, finish bowing, or remove your equipment before your seniors. When lining up, position yourself relative to your seniors. Example: when seated, line up your men and kote, as well as your knees, to those of your senior.
  7. Be aware of junior members and take care of them.
  8. Always sit or stand properly when in the dojo. Do not slouch or lean against anything. Particularly, do not lean on your shinai. Do not crawl to adjust your position when in seiza, or sonkyo; instead, stand up and move.
  9. When taking the seiza position, put the left knee down first. When rising from the seiza position, raise the right knee first. Do not use your hands to assist in raising or lowering yourself.
  10. Avoid walking in front of Sensei, or in front of Kenshi seated in the seiza position. If you need to walk in front of another player, move your arm out in front at a 45 degree angle and bow slightly while passing.
  11. Pay respect to your seniors and fellow Kenshi when departing, especially to the sensei. Examples: oyasumi nasai (good night), sayounara.
Basic Etiquette Regarding Apparel and Equipment
  1. Always handle your apparel and bogu respectfully. Make sure they are packed neatly, without dangling strings or straps.
  2. Always handle your shinai respectfully. Do not lean on it, rest it on the floor, twirl it, or drag it. Make sure it is well maintained, free of splinters and with tightened tsuru (string) and nakayui (leather strap).
  3. Avoid stepping over Shinai and Bogu when it is lying on the ground e.g. during Seiza etc. Walk around instead if possible.
  4. Wear your keikogi and hakama neatly. Make sure the keikogi is smooth, not bulging, in the front and back. When putting on the hakama, put your left leg in first; when removing the hakama, remove your right left first.
Basic Etiquette During Practice
  1. When practising with your senior, thank him or her by saying "onegai shimasu" at the beginning and "arigatou gozaimashita" at the end.
  2. Practice diligently. Do not sit down during practice unless you are fixing your equipment. Do not engage in idle conversation. Do not let a sensei remain idle when he or she is available for practice.
  3. Do not wear jewelry during practice.
  4. Perform ritsu rei (standing bow) and za rei (seated bow) properly. Do not bend or arch your neck or back. Hold the bow briefly before returning to your original position.
  5. To draw the shinai: First perform ritsu rei toward your opponent. Bring your left hand to your hip and take three big steps forward. Draw the shinai; assume the chudan no kamae position and go down into the sonkyo position. Keep your back straight and look forward at all times.
  6. To put away the shinai: assume the chudan no kamae position, go down into the sonkyo position, and return the shinai to your left hip. Stand and take five small steps back; drop your left hand, and perform ritsu rei. Keep your back straight and look forward at all times.

"Rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru."

A common phrase heard in the martial arts is "Rei ni hajimari, rei ni owaru" (礼に始まり、礼に終わる). It means that martial arts begins and ends in courtesy. It is a way of giving thanks and showing respect. Paying attention to this detail often helps us become better kendo practicioners!

Bowing In:

  1. Bow 15 degrees.
  2. Bringing shinai up to waist, with thumb on tsuba, take 3 steps in.
  3. Take out shinai
  4. While taking out the shinai, go into "Sonkyo" (squatting bow) position with back straight. No jumping/hopping to correct distance!
  5. Stand and move into the "Chudan" position.

Bowing Out:

  1. From chudan no kamae position, sonkyo and put shinai away.
  2. Take five steps back as when bowing in.
  3. Once 5 steps away, bring shinai back down to waist.
  4. Bow 15 degrees.