Kendo has many established customs and traditions that may take some time to get used to. You will likely make mistakes at first. However, it would be greatly appreciated if all members do their best to observe proper etiquette when practising kendo with the club. The most important thing is to always be humble and respectful. The rest will come with practice and experience.
Always be mindful of the club's existing hierarchy, which is based on seniority—individuals who joined the club earlier are higher ranking ("senpai"), regardless of age, grade or skill.
If you have any questions, about kendo etiquette or just in general, please don't hesitate to ask one of your sensei or senpai!
Below are some of the basics:
Rei (giving thanks and showing respect)
- Bow 15 degrees
- Bringing shinai up to waist, with thumb on tsuba, take 3 steps in.
- Sonkyo (squatting bow) with back straight and no jumping/hopping to correct distance.
- Take five steps back as when bowing in.
- Bow 15 degrees
1. When bowing in at beginning of practice, say "onegaishimasu" ("if you please").
2. When bowing out, always say domo arigato gozaimashita ("thank you very much")
Seiretsu (lineup) & Seiza (kneeling)
- Lineup according to rank (senior to junior from left to right, facing sensei)
- When kneeling, left knee goes down first then right knee.
- Don’t forget the domino-effect: wait for the person immediately to the left to kneel first before kneeling.
- Gently (silently) lay down shinai. Shinai binding cord facing down or away from body.
- Keep back straight when sitting in seiza.
- Line up tsuba, knees and kote/men (if applicable) to the person immediately to your left.
Treating Shinai with Respect
Always treat the shinai with respect and care, just as if it was a real sword. The side opposite the tsuru (binding cord) represents the cutting edge.
Never do the following:
- Lean on shinai.
- Hold shinai over one’s shoulder.
- Step or jump over shinai and bogu.
When resting shinai against the wall:
- When placing shinai against wall, always have the tip of the shinai pointing upwards.
- Follow instructions from sensei as quickly and accurately as possible. (Don't walk, run!)
- Don’t lean against the wall, or sit down unless instructed to by sensei or senpai.
- Always be ready and show respect and appreciation.
- Always bow and sonkyo before taiso and practice, even if one arrives late.
- Remove all jewellery/accessories before stepping into dojo.
- Make sure club uniform (keikogi & hakama) are worn properly.
- Avoid individual breaks unless absolutely necessary. Frequent individual breaks are disruptive for other students.
- Practice wearing bogu until you can put the whole set on in less than 3 minutes (you should be able to put it on faster than your senpai!)
- Always sit in seiza when putting on or fixing your bogu.
- Do your best to put on your bogu properly so you do not have to fix it during practice.
- Do not take off your men during practice unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Ensure that all of your bogu is worn in a neat and proper fashion.
- Do not speak when sensei is giving instructions.
- Keep talking to a minimum.
- Respond/reply to instructions (“hai”).
- Use proper honorifics (address sensei simply as “sensei”).
- Always bow and give thanks when given advice or instructions by sensei or senpai.
- Bow slightly when walking across in front of members in seiza (it is best if possible to walk behind members seated in seiza).