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Old 01-04-2008, 05:23 PM   #1
Jon Shickel
Dojo: Elkton Ki-Aikido
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Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

( I split this off into a separate thread because it's doesn't really deal with the student / Sensei interaction )

I think our dojo is formal, but obviously some are more formal than us on some matters.

Was the offense walking behind the Sensei, walking behind the Sensei with a weapon, or walking between the Sensei and shomen?

Just honestly asking so I won't offend others if I visit another dojo.
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:42 PM   #2
Fred Little
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Jon Shickel wrote: View Post
( I split this off into a separate thread because it's doesn't really deal with the student / Sensei interaction )

I think our dojo is formal, but obviously some are more formal than us on some matters.

Was the offense walking behind the Sensei, walking behind the Sensei with a weapon, or walking between the Sensei and shomen?

Just honestly asking so I won't offend others if I visit another dojo.
Many dojo simply have a shomen; some dojo have a kamiza.

Walking between an instructor and a kamiza is a huge faux-pas.

The pattern remains present in dojo that have a shomen that is explictly not a kamiza.

For a fuller explanation of the way space is organized in a traditional dojo and why this might be so, Dave Lowry's article What Puts The Tao in the Dojo is a good start.
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Old 01-05-2008, 12:47 AM   #3
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Many dojo simply have a shomen; some dojo have a kamiza.

Walking between an instructor and a kamiza is a huge faux-pas.

The pattern remains present in dojo that have a shomen that is explictly not a kamiza.

For a fuller explanation of the way space is organized in a traditional dojo and why this might be so, Dave Lowry's article What Puts The Tao in the Dojo is a good start.
Actually, every dojo has a shomen, and every dojo has a kamiza. It just depends on whether those who use it recognize them.

Shomen 正面 is simply "front". Wherever is decided to be the "front" wall of the dojo, that's the shomen. Typically, it's the wall opposite or farthest from the entrance.

Kamiza 上座 is a term of Japanese etiquette, and simply indicates the place of honor in any particular arrangement. Living rooms, dining rooms, dojo, theaters, meeting rooms, cars, even elevators! Where it is depends on what is considered the shomen and where the entrance/exit of the room is. Sometimes it's in front of the shomen, sometimes it's to the side.

There is some confusion, I think, due to a similar word: shinza 神座. The confusion arises because the kanji 神 is also read "kami". If you don't know that the correct reading for 神座 is "shinza", and you've heard the word "kamiza", it can be easy to assume that "kamiza" is written 神座 and/or that "kamiza" has something to do with 神. But while the two "kami" are etymologically related (along with 守 meaning "lord, guardian", and 髪 meaning "crown, hair"), in modern Japanese the meaning and usage is quite distinct. "Kamiza" is not even listed as an alternative reading of 神座, and 神座 itself refers to the resting place of the kami in a Shinto shrine (a place off-limits to everyone except the keeper of the shrine), not to anything in your typical dojo (or living room, for that matter).

In the article, Mr. Lowry is confusing three things: tokonoma, kamidana, and kamiza.

The kamiza, simply being the seat of honor, is rather flexible and ephemeral. It is not, in fact, tangible.

The tokonoma is a slightly raised decorative step in front of the shomen, on which are placed flowers and over which often hang scrolls of calligraphy and pictures of Ueshiba Morihei/Kisshomaru/Shioda Gozo/Saito Morihiro, etc. This is often confused with kamidana, but is quite distinct. The kamiza in a dojo is almost always in front of the tokonoma, if it has one, but the tokonoma is not itself the kamiza.

A kamidana is a raised shelf (much higher than the step of the tokonoma). It is a Shinto altar that contains offerings to the kami (which in this case can mean both what we term "gods" in English, as well as what we call spirits). Often it will have a rope and paper lightning hanging across it. A famous kamidana in aikido is the one at the Iwama Dojo.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 01-05-2008, 01:00 AM   #4
roadster
 
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post

Walking between an instructor and a kamiza is a huge faux-pas.
You know, I seem to be the only one at my dojo who practices this. Although there are some who practice more formal etiquette than myself, this one escapes them.

It was the way I was taught at my first dojo. There are a few pretty strict Sempai at my current dojo, but I have never seen anyone practice this. And they seem confused when I do (at least to me, I'm not a mind reader). I have never gone into detail about why I do it though.
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Old 01-05-2008, 08:54 AM   #5
Fred Little
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post

There is some confusion, I think, due to a similar word: shinza 神座. The confusion arises because the kanji 神 is also read "kami". If you don't know that the correct reading for 神座 is "shinza", and you've heard the word "kamiza", it can be easy to assume that "kamiza" is written 神座 and/or that "kamiza" has something to do with 神. But while the two "kami" are etymologically related (along with 守 meaning "lord, guardian", and 髪 meaning "crown, hair"), in modern Japanese the meaning and usage is quite distinct. "Kamiza" is not even listed as an alternative reading of 神座, and 神座 itself refers to the resting place of the kami in a Shinto shrine
Thanks Josh!

As soon as I read your explanation, I felt my Japanese teacher reach across the years, slap me across the back of the head, and scold me for mixing kun-yomi and on-yomi in reading a single word.

Very helpful explanation.

FL
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:38 AM   #6
Don_Modesto
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Walking between an instructor and a kamiza is a huge faux-pas.
Man! I've been involved with aikido since 1975, and I never knew this.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 01-05-2008, 12:27 PM   #7
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Thanks Josh!

As soon as I read your explanation, I felt my Japanese teacher reach across the years, slap me across the back of the head, and scold me for mixing kun-yomi and on-yomi in reading a single word.

Very helpful explanation.

FL
Well, it's not common, but it does happen. Indeed, "kamiza" for 上座 is a mix of kun-yomi (kami) and on-yomi (za). I think the confusion arises from similar looking things (tokonoma and kamidana) and similar looking words (kamiza and kamidana). If you're operating in the language a lot, it's easy to remember the distinctions because of other associations. But if you're only speak dojo Japanese, it can be confusing. And even if you learn the language, if you don't use it, you lose it...fast!

I'm certainly not beyond making mistakes, either!

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 01-05-2008, 01:01 PM   #8
Jon Shickel
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Many dojo simply have a shomen; some dojo have a kamiza.

Walking between an instructor and a kamiza is a huge faux-pas.

The pattern remains present in dojo that have a shomen that is explictly not a kamiza.

For a fuller explanation of the way space is organized in a traditional dojo and why this might be so, Dave Lowry's article What Puts The Tao in the Dojo is a good start.
Thanks.
I need to read that article carefully when I have more time.

I would never, say, enter the mat between the instructor and the kamiza / shomen. But often he will spread us out in groups down the mat to practice a technique. He might walk down the mat, away from the shomen, to watch the groups in back. The pairs in front would inevetiablely be between him and the shomen. Is that OK since they weren't the ones to move there?
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Old 01-05-2008, 01:08 PM   #9
Jon Shickel
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Actually, every dojo has a shomen, and every dojo has a kamiza. It just depends on whether those who use it recognize them.

Shomen 正面 is simply "front". Wherever is decided to be the "front" wall of the dojo, that's the shomen. Typically, it's the wall opposite or farthest from the entrance.
I know of a dojo that takes their Shomen and Kamiza [ I think that would be the correct terms ] as a front Corner instead of a wall.

Which makes the 8 way exercises kinda confusing
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Old 01-05-2008, 02:59 PM   #10
ElizabethCastor
 
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Jon Shickel wrote: View Post
Often he will spread us out in groups down the mat to practice a technique. He might walk down the mat, away from the shomen, to watch the groups in back. The pairs in front would inevetiablely be between him and the shomen. Is that OK since they weren't the ones to move there?
In my (limited) experience I would say yeah, that's all right. That is sensei making that choice. He can't do his duty of teaching with out that after all.

I liken it to the whole "no backs to O Sensei" rule. During insturctions (no matter how informal) NO ONE sits with the shomen/place of honor behind them... but occasionally, thru the process of practice somebady may have the shomen behind them. (in fact there was a thread a loooong time ago that had people describing how they accidentally fell into/onto or up against the shomen ) [however, I realize that at other dojos this "no backs..." rule may be incredibly serious and they have a way of practice that assures this is always followed....]
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:52 AM   #11
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

When I lived in Tokyo, I was training at my dojo one day and Koyama sensei broke training to impart some information with a clap and "sono mama" - stay were you are, i.e. no need for everyone to run back to the side. I dropped into seiza where I was, which happened to be behind sensei. Not with my back to the shomen as I was at the edge of the mat, but I was between the shomen and sensei in terms of my position along the side. A fifth dan on the other side of the mat had a few things to say to me about it......... needless to say I haven't done it since.

I've been in classes in Japan where everyones dropped into seiza in a circle around sensei whilst he teaches, which includes having their back to the shomen.The rule does vary in different places, particularly in the west, but also in Japan.

I would suggest that not being between sensei and the shomen when he teaches, or not having your back to Kaiso when being instructed by sensei is probably good etiquette and a safe way of not getting chewed out if that is the rule in that particular dojo.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:16 PM   #12
charyuop
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

I am so glad in my dojo etiquette is not so strict. I personally (even without knowing anything about etiquette) would never get into seiza with my back to the O Sensei picture or if I need to fix my gi I go to a corner and face the corner. But yes I passed behind Sensei and between him and the kamiza and sometimes he even told me to (he was showing a detail on my Senpai and wanted me to get into a position where I could see that detail).
Of course I realize now that the day I will step into another dojo I might get into trouble for not knowing proper etiquette...ouch!
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:51 AM   #13
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

I see two things that may be of interest:
1. Walking behind anyone (especially sempai or sensei) with a weapon - Generally, it is poor ettiquette to walk behind seniors with a weapon. Obviuosly, this has historical roots about assasinations and other fantastical things, but it makes sense. If you carried a loaded gun and walked behind me, I would be uncomfortable... The tools may be antiquated, but the concept makes sense.
2. Sitting between kamiza and sensei - again, I am sure there are extravegant roots to this tradition, but think about the concept. IF someone were seated in kamiza, and you sat between kamiza and sensei, who the guest be able to see clearly sensei? Probably not.

I find reigi usually has a practical application (which may be antiquated, but it was practical at some point). In addition, if I tell a student, "don't sit with your back to kamiza," and that student sits with their back to kamiza, I know they are not paying attention to their surroundings. Add all of the excuses you want to this situation (it's a silly rule, it is outdated, it's too strict, blah blah blah), but the message from the student is clear - I am not paying attention. Or worse, I was paying attention and chose not to obey your request.
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Old 01-08-2008, 09:37 PM   #14
Mike Haftel
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I see two things that may be of interest:
1. Walking behind anyone (especially sempai or sensei) with a weapon - Generally, it is poor ettiquette to walk behind seniors with a weapon. Obviuosly, this has historical roots about assasinations and other fantastical things, but it makes sense. If you carried a loaded gun and walked behind me, I would be uncomfortable... The tools may be antiquated, but the concept makes sense.
2. Sitting between kamiza and sensei - again, I am sure there are extravegant roots to this tradition, but think about the concept. IF someone were seated in kamiza, and you sat between kamiza and sensei, who the guest be able to see clearly sensei? Probably not.

I find reigi usually has a practical application (which may be antiquated, but it was practical at some point). In addition, if I tell a student, "don't sit with your back to kamiza," and that student sits with their back to kamiza, I know they are not paying attention to their surroundings. Add all of the excuses you want to this situation (it's a silly rule, it is outdated, it's too strict, blah blah blah), but the message from the student is clear - I am not paying attention. Or worse, I was paying attention and chose not to obey your request.
I'm pretty sure that, historically, it was against ettiquette to walk IN FRONT of someone carrying a weapon. If you had to cross somebody's path whilst both persons were armed, ettiiquette dictated that you wait for the person and walk behind them, rather than in front of them.
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Old 01-09-2008, 06:56 AM   #15
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

Wow, between the original post and this one, there's about a million etiquettes out there. So, really, what's the guiding reference? IMO, it goes like this: Dojo, school, organization.

Each dojo will have its own version. And this will most likely be based off of the school that they are in. Which, in turn, is based off the organization. Every dojo can be/might be/will be different, even within an organization.

And really, even in the dojo, what drives the etiquette? Certainly not "absolutes", as you can tell by reading the posts (Just because a dojo has a rule not to turn one's back on the shomen, doesn't mean it is enforced 100% of the time). No, it's driven by "intent".

For a loosely based example. Say you have a cook who is making dinner for a guest. Cook serves meal. Guest doesn't like the food that is prepared. "Doesn't like" in this instance means that the guest has a general dislike of the type of food, like say some people don't like green beans or spinach or what not. So, there the two sit at the table, right before starting to eat. Who breaches etiquette? The cook for preparing food that the guest doesn't like? Or the guest for not eating the food that the cook worked hard to prepare?

It was explained to me awhile back that if the cook did not know about the guest's dislike, then the guest would be rude to not eat the food, or at the very least, sample it. If the cook did know, then the cook is rude for fixing something known to be disliked by the guest.

So, to try to force that square peg into a round hole. If you have a student who doesn't know a rule, then there shouldn't be any rudeness when the instructor explains it. However, if the student knows the rule, who is rude when the instructor has to explain it again? (Barring the occasional forgetfulness that we all have.) And rude doesn't mean the manner in which the etiquette is conveyed, but rather the intent. The manner, or demeanor, in conveying is a different topic.

Budo begins and ends with rei. We are respectful, not only to another but also from another.
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Old 01-29-2008, 08:53 AM   #16
edshockley
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Re: Dojo etiquette (explanation) ?

When in doubt ask. When in error apologize. Train with the relaxed knowledge that we will make mistakes and the world will continue turning.
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