Traditional opening and closing to each class
First and foremost, students are expected to arrive to class with ample time to get changed and warm-up lightly before the start of class. In deference to Japanese martial arts tradition, schools of Goshinkan-Ryu Ju Jitsu adhere to certain acts of etiquette and respect before, during, and at the end of training. Upon entering the dojo, stepping onto or off of the mats, you bow to show respect for your dojo and your training.
The instructors of Goshinkan-Ryu Ju Jitsu look for prospective students who are respectful; in our system it is the instructor who ultimately picks his or her students, not the other way around like many martial arts schools.
If you are new to traditional martial arts this is a guide for what to do and expect during your lessons in Goshinkan-Ryu Ju Jitsu.
At the start of each lesson your Sensei will stand at the front of the dojo with his or her back to the Shomen (wall where the Mon & Kanji are).
The senior student is expected to call the class to attention and may say “line up” followed by “Ki o tsuke” (pay attention).
The line up works as follows:
- The first line to the Sensei’s right, or left of the Mon, is where new students and White Belts line up. The most senior of the white belts would be at the front of this row. If the student does not have a Gi they would be the rear of this line up.
- Depending how many students are in the dojo will determine how many lines of students their will be. The second line will be made up of Yellow Belts and Orange Belts lined up to the right of the White Belts with the most senior Orange Belt at the front of this line.
- The third line also to the right of the Yellow and Orange Belt row will contain Green Belts and Blue Belts.
- The fourth row to the right of this row will contain the senior color belts with Purple and Brown Belts, again the most senior with the highest color belt and most senior of that belt will always be at the front of this line. This student will be the one in charge of calling the bow.
- If the dojo has many Black Belts they will take up position in the senior row. When the Chief instructor of the style or O’Sensei visits the dojo he or she will take up position at the front of the class where the regular Sensei normally stands. The Chief instructor may invite their most senior Black Belt to be at the front of the class if they consider them their equal, however the regular Sensei should not expect this and should not go to the front of the class unless asked, it would be considered very disrespectful to think otherwise and again is considered a challenge.
- Once everyone is at attention, the Sensei will be looking over the students to see that they are all standing still and wearing their Gi appropriately. If you have a habit of not being prepared, or not respecting yourself or your uniform, the Sensei may bring it to your attention at this time before the bow starts. One of these things is making sure your belt is tied properly.
Generally nothing is said during this traditional opening of class.
- The senior student will now tell the class to kneel down in“Seiza”. The Sensei will be the first to move and the class will all attempt to move as one into the seiza position.
- Next will be “Mukso” which means meditate and close your eyes. The meditation process may be only a few minutes but may be longer depending on how the senior student is able to feel the energy in the class. If the students are distracted the meditation may take longer until the student are able to clear their minds.
- “Mukso Yamei” means stop meditation and open your eyes.
- The first bow is called “Shomen Ni Rei” This bow is to the front of the dojo where the Mon is behind the Sensei’s back. The bow will be called in steps “Shomen Ni” will mean turn towards the front. The Sensei will circle around on his knees to face the Mon, “Rei” (bow) will then be called.
When completing the bow your left hand will touch the mat first then your right your hands should be in a triangle position then bring your head towards your hands with your eyes just looking slightly to upwards to the Mon. This is not a religious bow but a show of respect to all our previous instructors and original founders of ju jitsu. The Sensei then turns to his right again on his knees and faces the students.
- "Sensei Ni Rei" (Shihan Ni Rei) is the second bow. This bow is to the Head Instructor or the most senior Sensei at the front of the class respectively. This bow is also called in steps, “Sensei Ni” turn towards the Sensei. The outer rows will turn just slightly towards their Sensei then “Rei” bow preformed just like the bow to the Mon. However the student should keep their eyes on their Sensei but only a glancing look as staring or raising your eyes and/or eyebrows may be considered a challenge to your Sensei or an act of disrespect. This bow is to thank your Sensei for the knowledge he or she is about to share with you.
- Next “Otagai Ni Rei” is to pay respect to your fellow classmates. It is a formal thanks for training with you and to the senior students for sharing their learned knowledge with junior students. During this bow following “Otagai Ni” the row to the Sensei’s left, or the furthest right line of the Mon, will turn on their knees to their left and the rest of the lines will turn to their right all ending up facing each other then “Rei”, completing the bow just like before but the student will look up higher at their fellow student than they would the Sensei. Turn back towards the Sensei.
- “Tatsu” is called which means stand up. The Sensei will stand up first with his right leg first then the left, the students will follow once the Sensei is completely standing — it is important that the students do not move until the Sensei is standing.
- “Rei” is the final bow before warm up. The Sensei bows towards the students and this bow is reciprocated by all the students at the same time. This bow is done from the hips while placing your hand just slightly above the knees, with the hands bent on a slight inwards angle. The students again will keep their eyes on their Sensei during the bow but slightly lowered to not challenge the Sensei. The Sensei’s eyes will be looking out over the students checking for a challenge. If a challenge exists, the senior student below the rank of the Sensei (may be another Black Belt) will step forward to except the challenge for their Sensei so the Sensei does not dishonor himself. However the Sensei may ask the senior student to step aside while the Sensei accepts the challenge. The student who initiated the challenge will be expelled from the dojo and Style no matter the outcome of the challenge. Keep in mind in the days of the Samurai this student would have been slain or asked to commit ritual suicide.
The end of class is done in a similar way but the very last bow “Ritsu Rei” is a bow thanking each other for putting in 100% commitment and knowledge into your class.
Ki o tsuke (pay attention)
Seiza (kneel down)
Mukso Yamei (stop meditating)
Shomen ni rei (bow to the front)
Shihan ni rei* (bow to the head instructor) *only called when Shihan is present
Sensei ni rei (bow to the instructor)
Otagai ni rei (bow to fellow students)
Tatsu (stand up)
Rei (standing bow at beginning of class) or Ritsu rei (standing bow at end of class)