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Before any session, no matter how large, Jitsuka 'line up' to 'rei'

Jitsu has its own etiquette, some of which comes from its history as the defensive art of the unarmed Samurai, some coming from the need for safety during training. Here are some of the things Jitsuka have to consider during training.

  • You must have a clean gi with a correctly tied obi. This shows respect for the art and respect for your training partners — would you want to train with someone who smelled?
  • You must have trimmed fingernails and toenails. This stops you from scratching your training partners by accident during techniques.
  • You ‘rei’ (bow) to your partner at the beginning and end of each practice. This indicates that despite the fact you're about to try to hit each other and perform potentially painful techniques, you still have respect for your partner and you have no real desire to hurt them.
  • You must not lose your temper or swear during training
  • You must not eat or drink in the training hall.
  • The samurai believed that the left side was weak, probably due to the fact that most people are right-handed. Traditionally, when performing the kneeling rei at the start of the session, the right knee should touch the ground first in order to give path to the stronger right arm, which might have to reach for the samurai's sword. The right knee should also be the first to touch when kneeling for the same reason and in kneeling ukemi, the hands are positioned on the thighs to give access to the sword.
  • You must rei into and out of the dojo, to the highest grade on the mat when you leave and join the session and to the instructor. At the beginning and end of every session, a more formal welcoming and greeting session is performed (in Japanese), with students lining up opposite the instructor. In olden days, the students would act as a barrier to any attackers who might try to kill the instructor!