Reigi is the respect we show to our training partners, our instructors, the art we practice and the place where we practice it. It is infused in the tradition of martial arts and is of utmost importance in our school. Character building begins with this etiquette and the way we present and conduct ourselves inside and outside of the dojo. The discipline we achieve through reigi extends throughout our practice and feeds into all of our activity.
Reigi starts with respect for ourselves by ensuring we are clean and free of odours before we arrive at the dojo. Your keikogi should be clean and fresh, finger and toenails should be kept short and clean. Before we enter the dojo we must ensure that our keikogi and hakama is worn properly and that our obi (belt) is tied correctly.
Correct reigi and procedure whilst in the dojo
At the dojo perform a standing bow (ritsurei) at the doorway before you enter. This should be performed in a formal manner and with the feet together. Ensure footwear is worn when walking to and from the mat. No shoes should be worn on the mat under any circumstances. Remove shoes or zoori’s just as you step onto the mat and then immediately perform a seated bow (zarei) in the direction of the shomen (front of the dojo). Again, this should be performed in the correct formal manner.
Whilst waiting for the class to begin, practice quietly or complete some warm up exercises.
It is considered extremely bad manners to turn up late for a class although it is understood that in exceptional circumstances this can’t always be helped. If you do end up late for class you should sit quietly at the corner of the tatami (mat) until you are invited by the instructor to join. Then make zarei before joining the class. If because of personal commitments you previously know you are likely to arrive late please discuss this with your instructor beforehand.
As the class begins all students should line up in seiza (kneeling) in order of grade along the shimoza (edge of the mat directly facing the shomen). This line should be perfectly straight (ie taking a line from the knees of highest grade in the line) and spaced evenly.
The kamiza (highest place/top seat) or kamidina (god/spirit shelf) is located at the shomen and this will house a picture of O Sensei.
The instructor will sit to the side of the kamiza facing the class. He will turn to face the kamiza and rei (bow) towards the picture of O Sensei. At the same time the class will also rei towards O Sensei. If there are people seated in joseki the Sensei and the class will then rei towards them and they will rei in return (joseki can also mean top seat but it is to the side of the dojo and usually where distinguished guests or higher graded students sit). Sensei will turn to face the class, rei and the class will also rei. All will say “onegaishimasu” (which loosely means please let us practice).
Sit quietly and still whenever Sensei is talking or demonstrating. After Sensei has finished demonstrating perform zarei and move quickly and directly to a clear space on the tatami with your practice partner. Rei towards your partner then quietly practice the technique or the principles that have been demonstrated.
When Sensei claps hands or calls “yame” (stop), immediately stop what you are doing and rei towards your partner. Follow the further instructions given by Sensei. If Sensei is demonstrating techniques return to the shimoza to observe. Then again, after Sensei has finished demonstrating a technique, perform zarei and move quickly and directly to a clear space on the tatami with your practice partner.
Always rei to new practice partners as you change throughout the class. If Sensei is showing you a technique using your partner, you should observe quietly sitting in seiza.
When the class ends return to the shimoza and sit in seiza in grade order. As before this line should be perfectly straight and spaced evenly. Usually Sensei will call “mokosu” and a short time will be spent in zazen (seated meditation) to finish off the class.
Sensei will turn towards the kamiza and all will rei towards the picture of O Sensei. Then if there are people seated in joseki the Sensei and the class will then rei towards them and they will rei in return. Sensei will turn to face the class, rei and the class will also rei. All will say “domo arigato gozaimashita” (which means thank you very much). The class will remain seated until Sensei leaves the mat. The Sempai (senior student) will then say “kamiza ni rei” and the class will rei towards the kamiza. The class will stand and leave the line up in an orderly fashion.
Other general rules of reigi
Always perform the rei (sitting or standing) in the correct manner. The sempai (senior student) will happy to demonstrate the correct way to rei.
Always use the title “Sensei” when addressing the instructor in the dojo.
Keep talking to a minimum during practice.
Do not talk or fidget when Sensei is demonstrating or talking.
Do not wear jewelry on the mat.
If you need to leave the mat always obtain permission from Sensei first then perform zarei before stepping of the mat.
Do not lean on the dojo walls.
Be conscientious and diligent in your practice.
Always take care of junior students. They must be made welcome and be quickly integrated into the group.
All students must attend to the needs of the dojo. This means ensuring that it is clean and tidy before practice. Putting out the tatami and setting up the kamiza and then cleaning it all away after practice.