Alertness, awareness, foresight, and a clear assessment of any situation at all times are among the major goals of karate training and tradition. Accordingly, in the dojo (training hall) safety is uppermost in our agenda and all karateka (karate participants) are required to learn and practice the following:
- Courteous manners are required by karate tradition. In feudal Japan, any sign of disrespect was a direct challenge to a duel to the death.
- In addition to the physical forms of karate, we seek to learn about the culture of budo (the Way of martial arts) and bujitsu (the practice of fighting skills). Toward this end it is the responsibility of all karateka to learn the basic Japanese vocabulary used in class.
- When a karateka enters the dojo it is customary to stop and bow as a sign of respect and mental preparation for serious training. Shoes must be removed at the door.
- Horseplay, fooling around, or behaving carelessly in the dojo is strictly forbidden.
- Smoking, eating, and drinking of any beverage is strictly forbidden inside the dojo.
- Toenails and fingernails must be trimmed.
- Ill or injured karateka are not allowed to practice without specific permission of the instructor.
- No necklaces, earrings, bracelets, watches or other jewelry are permitted during practice.
- A gi (karate uniform) should be worn during practice. Beginners may check out a gi for the quarter from the equipment issue window on the basement level of the IMA. Students may alternatively wear loose, comfortable workout clothes if am appropriately sized gi is not available.
- Classic karate stances are taught for technical reasons. Moving from a strong, balanced foundation prevents injury during practice and allows you to control the situation during kumite (sparring). Pain is immediate feedback letting you know that you are not doing a technique correctly.
- Consequently, practice for karateka at all levels emphasizes many repetitions of kihon (basic techniques) in order to gain mastery of their application. Whenever a basic karate stance is introduced the essential points of joint alignment and balance are emphasized by the instructor. Pay attention to these points.
- Consistent attendance is essential to development in karate. The first step to improvement is practice. The first step to practice is showing up.
- All karateka must take part in the warm-up and stretching routine, which opens every class or event. Latecomers are required to warm-up on their own before they can join the group practice.
- It is the martial arts tradition that we must finish what we begin: karateka may not leave practice without the permission of the senior leading the class. If injury occurs during practice notify the instructor immediately. If a karateka has an obligation that requires leaving class early he or she should notify the instructor before class begins. You may not stop to get a drink of water; drink plenty of water before class.
- During practice all karateka must listen for the command “YAME” (stop) and instantly stop whatever they’re doing as soon as it is called. However, do not let your guard down: your partner may not have heard the command and may continue to attack.
- Injuries are rare in kumite. Most forms of kumite are formal exercises with the target and the technique exactly specified. Nonetheless, in Shotokan practice attacks are “live” so that karateka will develop realistic fighting skills. Do not cheat your partner out of their chance to learn by punching short or off to one side.
- During practice every karateka must try not to injure any junior member. Senior members should challenge newer members during kumite with attacks just above their partner’s current level.
- Because of the combative mode of karate people sometimes, foolishly, become angry. However, the goal is to learn to never lose control. Thus, anger must be guarded against and all karateka must stop if they become angry, or perceive that their partner is angry. In contrast, it is very useful to cultivate the appearance of anger (or fear, or resolve, or distraction etc.) to deceive your opponent.