Budo begins and ends with a rei
Good etiquette, or reiho, is an important part of any traditional Martial Art. It shows a state of mind of humility and focus for the training ahead, as well as respect for your training partners, instructors and the masters who have shaped the style over the years.
Without a suitable attitude that is open to learning and understanding yourself, your training in any art will be severly limited.
A key part of the etiquette is the bow or 'rei'. This can be done either standing or kneeling. All kneeling 'rei's are with the hands together apart from when you are about to perform kata. This is to show a greater level of trust to the person you are bowing to. In kata, you expect to fight, so less trust is shown by putting the left hand down first and then the right hand.
Entering the dojo
Always rei on entering a dojo, and if any instructor is present you should rei to them aswell. If you are late to the class, you should kneel at the edge of the mat until the senior instructor acknowledges you.
Start of the class
Line up facing the instructor in descending grade order from right to left and kneel. In general, follow the senior grades example.
The instructor or Sensei will turn to face the Shrine. Not all dojos will have a shrine but this is still done out of respect. On the command Shomen Ni Rei, everyone should bow to the front. This is done silently.
The instructor or Sensei will then face the students. On the command Sensei Ni Rei, all students should bow to the instructor, saying Onegai Shimasu (please).
Before starting kata, kneel and bow to your training partner, saying Onegai Shimasu. Keep good awareness or Zanshin during this.
After kata training, kneel and bow to your training partner, saying Arigato Gozai Mashita (thankyou). The kata is not over until this has been done, so keep good awareness at all times.
End of the class
As at the start of the class, the students should line up facing the instructor and kneel down.
On the command Shomen Ni Rei, rei to the shrine. Again this is silent and both hands are together.
On the command Sensei Ni Rei, rei to the instructor, saying Arigato Gozai Mashita.
Finally, rei to the person either side saying Arigato Gozai Mashita.
These points above are well formed ways of showing respect and self-control in the dojo. However, this should be continued through your training in how you relate to the other students.
Don't forget that the respectful behaviour shown in the dojo shouldn't stop just because the class has finished. Bringing the lessons learnt in the dojo into your life outside the dojo is just as important as any technique you may have learnt.