Dojo Etiquette

and ranks


Courtesy in the dojo is more than just a tradition, it is an integral part of Aikido training. By creating a harmonious atmosphere, it aids in learning; and by practicing kindness towards others you work toward self-improvement. A dojo is a special place where people come together for mutual benefit. Here are a few simple things that are considered common courtesy in almost any dojo.

  • Bow to the Shomen whenever you enter or leave the dojo or step on or off the mat. This shows your respect for the art.
  • If you arrive late, dress out and wait quietly at the edge of the mat for the instructor to notice you. He or she will call you onto the mat when it will be least disruptive to the class. Then do a formal bow to the Shomen.
  • The instructor is always addressed as Sensei. Bow to the Sensei before and after practice, and whenever you receive personal instruction.
  • Sit quietly in seiza and maintain a straight posture when the sensei is demonstrating to the class.
  • Show respect to your partners by requesting that they practice with you and by thanking them afterward.
  • Remember at all times that you are practicing for mutual improvement, and regardless of any rank differences, there is much you can learn from each other.
  • Shoes and jewelry should never be worn on the mat. Nails should be kept short; and feet, clothing, and language should be kept clean
  • Personal hygiene is a must. Colognes and perfumes should not be worn; and remember that make-up rubs off on other people’s uniforms.
  • There are many facets of dojo etiquette. The best way to learn is through observation, remembering that new students will soon be watching you in hopes of gaining information.


Aikido uses the traditional Japanese kyu and dan ranking system. In our dojo, there are two belts: white and black. However there are six white belt (kyu) ranks and ten black belt (dan) ranks. Progress through the ranks not only reflects technical ability, but also an understanding of the intent and spirit of Aikido.

There are minimum time requirements for ranking. However, these are only guidelines and the technical requirements must also be met.


Testing is done on an individual basis and is the final stage in determining whether all the criteria have been met. North Texas Aikido has no testing fees. We do not sell belts. If you get a rank in this dojo, you can be assured you will have earned it. It will take years for you to achieve the rank of shodan (1st degree black belt). Then, looking back, you will realize that the destination wasn’t the important thing - it was the journey.