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The Significance of Judo Etiquette (Reishiki)

Reishiki (Etiquette) plays a substantial role in the Judo community. There are hundreds of etiquette rules that need to be followed and can only be learned with time by a Judoka.  It is an aspect that was fundamental in the creation of the sport, a key principle in Jigoro Kano's mind when he created the first Judo Kodokan (school). Etiquette is significant in how Judoka carries themselves during training and competitive matches. It is important in how Judokas handle interactions with their Sensei (teacher), in how they wear their uniform and most importantly in how they treat people both in the Judo world and outside of it. Throughout Judo life, the etiquette value is designed to be engraved in the core level of students and should be manifested in their behavior. 

In Judo etiquette is seen as a formal manifestation of respect. With a spirit of respect, a Judoka can recognize the worth of another's personality. Etiquette becomes a spirit of living which brings harmony in a Dojo and wider communities. When Judo contestants meet, they face each other with a proper posture and show great respect for each other. They are in a constant state of harmony and are very courteous throughout the competition. Here's a quick guide to some of the Reishiki practiced by a Judoka.

Etiquette at the Dojo

There are a good number of etiquette practices at a Dojo. From the onset, Judokas are expected to attend all the classes they can. When a Judoka enters a Dojo, they must perform a Ritsu-rei (standing bow) at the entrance. In some traditional Dojos, a Judoka enters and faces the Kamiza (area of the Dojo with valuables) and perform the Ritsu-rei. When a Judoka have worn the uniform, they will perform another Ritsu-rei before they step on the mat. Once on the mat, a Judoka will perform a Seiza (kneeling sit) and will place themselves according to their rank. The Judoka will then wait for the Sensei's instruction before starting a warm up.

 Figure 1: A Traditional Kamiza in a Dojo where Judokas will bow to before they train.

Etiquette with Sensei (Teacher)

It is the duty of the Sensei to start and end all practices. The Sensei runs the Dojo how they see fit. The teacher will always be called by the name Sensei or Mr. /Mrs. / Ms. with their last name. When the Sensei is speaking with a Judoka, and another wants to speak with them the waiting Judoka must stand a few meters away and wait to be recognized by the Sensei and must perform a Ritsu-rei before they speak.


Figure 2: A Sensei and his class respectfully bow to each other before the start of the session.

Etiquette with Uniform

At the dojo, a Dogi (training uniform) is worn by the Judokas. The uniform reflects the attention that is given to practice and helps protect the body. The Dogi must be clean and washed. All jewelry and accessories must be removed before training in consideration of other Judoka and long hair for both men and women should be tied back neatly to avoid being caught.


Figure 3: A traditional Dogi.

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