Dojo ethics are a part of training every student from novice to senior, should adhere to. This is the essence of the martial art, which distinguishes it from merely fighting techniques.
Dojo ethics are practiced in the dojo, but should reflect on a person’s character and behavior also outside the dojo, in his everyday life and dealings with other people such as clients, friends, family and strangers. These are human values that are manifested in the ceremonial gesture of :
Entering the dojo, one has to take off one’s shoes and bow before coming on the mat. This means the person gives respect to the place and whoever is already training. In everyday life this can be seen as a polite greeting when coming into a place, and the intention to keep the property tidy and orderly.
A bow is also made before one starts practicing with a partner. It is not the novice bowing to the senior, they bow to each other. This is a show of respect to the other and means that rank is not important on the battlefield. Outside the dojo, one should treat others in the same way. One has to behave in a sincere and humble way, not relying on one’s title, wealth or fame, but to have a humane attitude to everyone.
When the practice is over, one bows once again, to thank one’s partner for helping him to improve. In everyday life, saying thank you to someone who helps you is the right way.
Morality “Outside the Dojo”
When talking about “outside the dojo”, it not only means when a student leaves the dojo physically, but also when a student decides to leave, i.e. stop training in a dojo and not be a member of that dojo. He then needs to cherish the values of the bow in his everyday life.
A student may leave a dojo for several reasons. It may be a physical or health reason, or it may be due to psychological reasons of the student.
For the former reason, the student may be forced to leave to prevent any further health problems.
The latter reasons, the psychological, are the most important, and the student has to try to avoid falling into their moral pitfalls.
In psychological reasons, we count the personality of the person. Without getting into psychological details, each person is carrying the baggage of his lifetime experience, since early childhood, through interactions with family, peers and the environment. Each experience may support the child’s personality or harm it, leaving a “scar” that may inhibit his success in becoming a happy person that lives life to the fullest.
The ability to get along with people is a social skill learned since first encounters in the kindergarten and all through life. Some people have this ability naturally, while others may strive to possess or improve it.
In the Dojo, obviously it is important for a student to be able to get along with the other students. He should be able to control his natural aggressiveness, to direct it to perfect himself both physically and mentally thru continuous training and to get rid of his “Ego” – the daily term meaning “arrogance”.
Martial arts training should train one to give up his ego and behave humbly
However, this does not always work out. As in any society, some people are hard to change. They believe that they deserve more and demand it, in contradiction of the dojo spirit.
This type of student may stop training or he may establish his own school.
When the student leaves, he should keep the essence of the Dojo spirit even when he is no longer a part of it. Making martial arts your profession, however financially rewarding, should be directed by the moral values one has learnt during the years of training.
Hence, the student must avoid making the unprofessional and immoral mistakes of trying to harm his former dojo in ways such as gossiping against his former colleagues, or possibly trying to entice some students to leave with him and join his new dojo. These actions are completely unethical in the martial arts world and opposed to the true BUDO way. They are all for Ego and personal gain.
Acting this way, he shows that nothing has been learnt on his journey in martial arts. He may call himself a “sensei”, but he is not a true one.
Respecting the Dojo and your fellow martial artist even though you do not train together anymore is the true Dojo way.