Tradition, Respect and Discipline
One of the most important aspects of the study of Budo is learning to discipline one's own behaviour and self-control. A prime example of this discipline is the etiquette we observe with our instructor and fellow students, and in the dojo or practice area. Unfortunately, the etiquette we observe is often confused with worship. Aikido is not a religious practice. When we bow or observe special ceremonies, we do so for the purpose of training our minds, not worship or submission.
Etiquette is also confused in our minds with respect. The etiquette we practice may reflect respect, we can show respect, and we do so by following the correct procedures of dojo etiquette. It is not so important that others respond to our respect, to be respectful is the important part. To be impolite is to be lacking in consideration for others, to be inconsiderate is to be lacking, somehow, in some essential kindness. Correct etiquette in Aikido is, consideration for others.
When entering or leaving a dojo we face the front of the practice area and bow. We use this bow as an opportunity to remind ourselves to be grateful for this place to train.
We take off our shoes and stop any distracting practices that might interfere with our training or others' training. Grateful for the opportunity to study Aikido, we want to focus all our attention and energy on that one task. Visitors are also expected to observe these guidelines.
At the dojo, we take off our street clothes and put on a training uniform (Dogi). This helps us to shed our outside concerns and focus our attention on our current task - AIKIDO TRAINING. Complete uniforms are preferred. Our study is a formal one, and the completeness of our dress reflects the attention we give our study.