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Sempai - Yudansha Guidelines
Dojo-Cho Essay

The following are guidelines and reminders of etiquette and correctness of conduct for all ranking sempai and yudansha. What we do speaks louder and more strongly than what we say. Let us be good role models for the younger/newer mudansha.

By living these guidelines we are training ourselves mentally and spiritually. This will carry us further outside the dojo than all the physical training we could possibly do on the mat.

Be humble. Be aware. Be sensitive to your surroundings and in your dealings with others. Remember, we are traveling the same path(s) to the same ultimate goal; enlightenment.

We must all remain students. We must continue to learn. We must remain open to everything we see and do, no matter what our rank. The further we advance in rank, the more humble we should be.

Do not get caught up in the arrogance and prestige that so easily come with rank and experience. Do not place yourself above the rules and guidelines of proper conduct and etiquette. These exist for a very important purpose. Regularly read the posted instructions and remind yourself of their meaning and importance!

Teach by example and by suggestion. Do not lead by ordering or intimidation. Put yourself in the place of the person you are trying to help. Remember the confusion and frustration we all experienced in the beginning. Respect your fellow aikidoists.

Be sensitive to and respect your partner's level of expertise/ability and mental and emotional state. Do not assume that everyone wants to train as hard or as fast as you do.

During regular class training make suggestions, do not instruct. If you do offer help, limit it to one or two suggestions. It is disrespectful, frustrating and confusing to correct every little detail. The appropriate time to help someone is before or after class.

There is only one instructor in each class. It is that person's responsibility to provide correction. Respect the instructor's judgment and decision to correct or not to correct your training partner. The rest of us are there to train and learn.

When arriving late for class, indicate your readiness to train by sitting in seiza at the right hand corner of the mat. When the instructor has given you permission to enter, perform the proper bow-in before beginning your training.

When leaving class early or when leaving the mat during class, inform the instructor of the reason and ask for permission to leave. This is important for safety and for respect. The instructor must be made aware of everything that is happening on the mat.

Mokuso (meditation) before class is very good training. It calms the mind and body. It helps us focus on proper breathing. Mokuso prepares us mentally and spiritually for the training ahead.

Safety during training.
You are responsible for the safety of yourself, your training partner as well as everyone else on the mat.

Adhere to the basic techniques as standardized by Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Know them well yourself and when helping others, explain the difference between these standards and the many variations that exist. When in doubt, ask your dojo-cho.

Cleaning the dojo trains the spirit and shows our respect for our place of training. The dojo should be viewed as a temple of training and not simply as a gym.

Respect the dojo and your training partners by always training in a clean gi.

Folding your hakama is also good training for the spirit. It teaches humility and attention to detail. It teaches us to do for others without expectation of reward in return. Teach the younger students this tradition. It is also a show of your respect for your sempai and guest instructors to fold their hakama. It should be your way to say thank you for the help you have received from them.

Pay the proper respect to your weapons and the weapons of others. Return them to their proper place. Do not step on or over the weapons. Do not abuse or break someone else's weapons.

Responsibility of rank.
We all must take care of and look after the students who came after us. We are responsible for guiding them and encouraging them. We should each be most responsible for those who are in the next rank below us.

Asking permission of dojo-cho before doing something that is out of the ordinary. Do not assume it will be okay. We respect your judgment, but you must also respect sensei's judgment and responsibility to the dojo.

Our goal is to build a strong dojo filled with warmth, trust and respect. It should be a place where we can train in a relaxed, safe atmosphere. Relaxed, but not lax or sloppy.

Please remember that we teach and lead by example.

By being good role models and by living our ideals, we continually grow.

Calvin Koshiyama, October 9th, 2001, Aikido North