The past few weeks, we have been paying extra attention to kendo etiquette. As they say: “Rei ni hajimari, rei ni owari” (kendo begins with rei and ends with rei); without etiquette we might as well just whack each other with sticks.
There are many books and articles available on kendo etiquette and one can talk for hours about it. For now, these are some of the things that we have been reminded of recently.
- Perform a proper ritsu rei before and after each and every exercise, be it kihon or waza keiko, or jigeiko. Bow at the same time, ask to train (“Onegai shimasu“), do the exercise, then meet in the middle, osame-to, then step backwards simultaneously and again bow at the same time. Say your thanks (“Arigato gozaimashita“).
- A bow is much more than just a quick nod or bend. Pay attention to whom you’re bowing to. Bow at least as long as he does, and do it at the same time. When you’re working with sensei, show extra care.
- Be quiet in class. There is no room for needless chatter and you should focus on your own training. Don’t talk to your partner and explain what you think he’s doing wrong, unless you are actually in a position to do so. In most cases you are not. Similarly, if sensei or sempai quickly tells you something, that is not an invitation to open dialogue. If you have any questions, save them until after class. If you have a question about an explanation in shugo, raise your hand.
- If you would like to speak to a sempai after class in the seiretsu line-up, follow the same procedures as with sensei. Approach him/her from the shimoza side of the dojo, sit in seiza and wait until you have their attention.
- When you sit down in seiza, do it correctly. Here’s an instructive video from Kendo World.
- Keep your uniform and equipment tidy. Tie all himo properly, so you won’t have to pause your exercises. Pay attention to details.
- Speaking of retying your himo: if you have an equipment malfunction or an emergency during class, move towards the shimoza side. Do not sit down on the kamiza side!
- Be on time for class. Or better yet, be early. Kouhai are supposed to help in cleaning and preparing the dojo before class. All others can start with stretching or warming up.