The Word Dojo
The word dojo has many translations, such as exercise hall, practice hall or place of learning “the Way”, which is a reference to the more philosophical side of martial arts. Please keep in mind that although Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is 100% Brazilian, it has many close ties to Japanese arts as these are what inspired Grand Master Helio to reinvent and adapt the techniques so that the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu could be practiced by anyone. In order to pay respect to these precursors and to preserve the history of the art, you will see many traditional customs performed at our academy.
The Dojo is a sacred place for the serious study of Jiu-Jitsu. Students should always show respect and conduct themselves accordingly by following the rules so as to honor the Dojo and Head Instructor.
When entering the Dojo, you should enter with a clear mind, be ready to train and pay attention to all instruction. Every student must be on their best behavior at all times and maintain a high standard of discipline. The higher ranked students are expected to set an example while in the Dojo for the lower ranked students to follow.
Parents and spectators are guests at the Dojo and should be respectful at all times. Parents are welcome to watch their children train but to do so quietly, without talking to other parents, or causing any disruption to the class.
Designated sitting areas are available for parents and spectators to observe but at no time should parents attempt to give instruction to their children or go onto the mat during training. This would be considered disrespectful to the head instructor and go against Dojo etiquette-you would likely be asked to leave if this happens. Ultimately, when you or your child is at the Dojo, it is up to the Head Instructor, not the parent, to give instruction.
The Dojo is a place where both parents and students can learn a great deal together about Jiu-Jitsu, its traditions and customs and the experience is made even better by understanding and following the rules of the Dojo so as to properly pay respect in this environment.
As dojos are places where students seek enlightenment in an art, please know that we welcome visitors. That said, please remember that if you are a spectator, you are a guest and should ensure that a certain level of respect is also paid to the customs of the dojo. It can be very difficult for an instructor to maintain his focus on the mat while dealing with disruptions which may occur off the mat; again safety is our utmost concern.
Bowing is considered an expression of respect and gratitude. It is customary to bow when entering/exiting the mat (facing the direction of Grand Master Helio Gracie picture) as well as at certain moments during the class, such as at the beginning of live training. Again, this is a sign of gratitude and respect so it can be applied in many contexts but will always occur when crossing the threshold to the mat area as well as at the beginning/end of a live training session.
It is customary to bow whenever one crosses the threshold to the mat area. When doing so, you are showing respect to the training area as well as gratitude for the opportunity to refine your understanding of the art. Should you be forced to enter the training area after class has begun, you should wait at the threshold to the mat for the professor to acknowledge you before stepping into the mat area. Not doing so is considered a sign of disrespect and can be disruptive to others by distracting from the technique which the instructor is covering. Once the instructor has granted you permission to enter and you have “bowed in”, you should immediately walk to the instructor, greet them, and thank them. At that time you may join the class in session, giving special consideration to performing any necessary warm-up exercises which may have been missed.
At the beginning and end of each class, students shall line up according to rank. Since rank is typically indicative of experience, the most experienced persons shall be located in the forward right corner when the students are facing the front of the mat area. Each belt level shall form a separate line of students, unless it is necessary to form more than one line for a particular belt (i.e. white belt line, blue belt line, etc.). Students should then arrange their line from left to right based on experience so that those with 4 stripes at a belt level are to the far right while more recent promotions with 0 will be the farthest left.
Proper Sitting position
When on the mat and not actively engaged in practice, students should maintain a seated position with the legs crossed or alternatively kneel with their feet tucked under themselves. These are traditional postures permitted in dojos when at rest but while still maintaining a sense of respect for the dojo. Students should not sprawl out on the mat at any time unless instructed to do so; kimono tops shall remain tied at all times. Even while resting students shall maintain their appearance, behavior, and still follow dojo etiquette; just because one student is resting does not permit him/her to distract from others training.