Judo Etiquette and Protocol

Judo Etiquette and Protocol by Trey Murray

Many students start class having no idea what Judo etiquette is. The art of Judo is very structured and has a specific way of doing things. There are a great deal of things you can do which will offend not only other students, but may annoy your instructor as well.

To display proper Judo etiquette when entering the dojo, a student should bow to display a respect of the art itself. When addressing the instructor (sensei), the student should bow.

When the class begins, displaying Judo etiquette, the head student (sempai) will call the class to attention (kyosuke). Then they will call for the class to bow to the front (shomen ni rei). Finally, they will call for the class to bow to the teacher (sensei ni rei).

When drilling throws or other moves, to display proper Judo etiquette, the torii and uke should bow to one another. When demonstrating a throw to the entire class, torii and uke should bow first to sensei, then to each other. Once the demonstration is finished, they should bow to each other, then to sensei.

There is very specific Judo etiquette which must be observed when performing the Katas. The Nage no Kata in particular begins with a ritual which involves stepping together in unison toward the center, and bowing to Joseki (place of high honor – where sensei is located). Then torii and uke kneel and bow to one another. Then they stand in unison and begin.

Just as with any of the other martial arts, students should show proper respect by bowing and obeying higher belt ranks. Proper respect should be shown of same and lower belt ranks as these are your training partners. Of course it should go without saying that this is especially true when addressing sensei. If any other art is taught at the school, the student should respect all students of those arts as well.

Judo etiquette can be intimidating when a student first arrives at a school, but if you follow these tips, you shouldn’t offend anyone at your new dojo.