What are some of the basic points of etiquette?

1. Bow to the front of the dojo when you enter and when you leave.

2. To begin class, Sensei will stand at the front and students will line up behind. Fall in with the other students. Bow once to the front of the dojo and then bow once to Sensei saying "onegaishimasu".

3. Bow when you train with Sensei and students in partner practice. Start with a bow and say "onegaishimasu". When finished, bow and say "arigatougozaimashita".

4. To end class, Sensei will stand at the front and students will line up behind. Fall in with the other students. Bow once to the front of the dojo and then bow once to Sensei saying "arigatougozaimashita". Then bow one more time looking around to the other students saying "arigatougozaimashita".

Other general points:

Some time during warm-up or during break time students and Sensei may chat a bit about their news or musings. This is fine. However, during class, remain focused on the task at hand and keep idle chatter to a minimum.

If you need a break or to leave class early, just politely ask Sensei.

If you are late, come in discretely and wait at the back of class until Sensei or a senior student asks you to come in.

What if there is no Sensei?

Sometimes Sensei is late. But training time is exactly that - training time. Students should warm up and begin training by themselves.

Sometimes Sensei cannot come to class. Unless expressly stated that class is cancelled, class is still on and students should still attend and train amongst themselves.

What does "onegaishimasu" mean?

Basically, it means "please". In this case it means "please teach me". We say this at the beginning of class to Sensei and to our partner before partner practice.

What does "arigatou gozaimasu/arigatou gozaimashita" mean?

"Arigatou gozaimasu" is a polite way of saying "thank you". "Arigatou gozaimashita" is the past tense of "arigatou gozaimasu". Think "thank you for what you taught me". We say this at the end of class and when we finish training with our partner.

I am currently training under another instructor/in another martial art. Is that OK?

As mentioned on the main page, all are welcome. Like you, Josh has trained under many instructors in a variety of styles. No style is superior. We can all gain from training, regardless of its form. Your experience and your body (the body you developed through your training) is a benefit to everyone in the class.

The important point to remember is that Sensei is Sensei and not you. There are good ways to go about sharing your experience and then there are other ways.

Iai and Kenjutsu and Aiki! Oh my! Isn't that a lot to learn?

Yes and no. Learning any kind of bujutsu (martial art) takes dedication and perseverance. However, these aren't three disparate arts. In fact, they are entirely complementary and the study and practice of all three will actually accelerate your learning. Aikido is based on Japanese sword theory. When you are practicing Aiki, use the principles of Iai and Kenjutsu and you will see how much more effective your technique will be. Using the principles of Aiki and Kenjutsu will make your Iai that much more effective. And using the principles of Aiki and Iai will make your Kenjutsu that much more effective. This is a wonderful realization that you have a chance to experience and is the main reason that Ishikawa Sensei asked that the teachings of Rakushinkan be spread to Canada.

Which day is iaido class? Which day is Aikido? Which day is Kenjutsu?

Each class is not exclusively iai, aiki or kenjutsu. We tend to practice two in any given class so come expecting to train any or all arts.

I would like to learn Japanese martial arts, but it is in conflict with my personal beliefs/comfort zones.

Not necessarily. The last thing we want is to exclude people. Either one of two things can happen. Perhaps you can change your perspective (not your beliefs), or a compromise can be made. It's something that should be discussed with Sensei.

There are people who feel extremely uncomfortable with bowing. Sometimes these are religious beliefs (one should only bow in prayer to God), or other set of ethical beliefs (bowing is a symbol of subservience). In Japan, bowing is a sign of respect - to Sensei, to training partners, to the building, to the memory of others who have come and trained before us. Your beliefs are your own and you can interpret bowing as you wish. If you are adamant about not bowing, then you need not do it as long as you make an effort to show politeness and respect. (Note that Alexander the Great dealt with this exact issue 2300 years ago.)

Some people feel very uncomfortable with physical touching. It is common in martial arts classes that instructors touch their students in order to move parts of their body into correct positions. It is not meant to be sexual. However, if you feel uncomfortable at anytime, extricate youself from the situation and discuss with Sensei privately at an appropriate time so that he can address the situation. If you are a particularly sensitive person, please discuss with Sensei prior to joining class to see if accommodations can be made.

Do you teach private lessons?

Yes, but they are very expensive.

Private lessons will not speed your progress. Quite the opposite. When you join Calgary Rakushinkan you add to it by giving other students the benefit of another unique body and personality and get to experience working with a variety of partners.

I would like to join/try class. How should I go about that?

If you're reading this FAQ, that's a good start. Next, email us expressing your interest and inquire about whether Sensei can take on another student. Ask whatever questions you have about class. Sensei would probably like to know why you are interested in learning Japanese sword and what prior martial arts experience you have if any.

What should I bring to my first class?

Bring yourself. That's the most important thing. Wear some loose clothing - something to exercise in. If you have a martial arts uniform of some sort - a karate/tae kwan do/judo/etc uniform with a belt, that would be a bonus. If you have a bokuto or a jo (if you do then you know what that means) then bring it. Sensei usually has extra swords that you can use, so don't worry about it.

I already have my own sword. Can I bring it?

Wooden weapons, yes. Others, NO. If you want to bring your sword, ask Sensei before hand and answer his questions. He may ask you to bring it to class for his inspection. DO NOT BRING A SWORD TO CLASS WITH OUT PRIOR CONSENT. Sensei needs to be aware of all potential risks in the dojo for the safety of everyone there. If Sensei asks you to bring your sword, he will inspect it to determine if it is safe and suitable for use.

Iaijutsu? Is that like Iaido? What's the difference?

Basically, they are the same thing. For some there is a different connotation associated with those two terms. Some use the term "iaido" implying that training in the art has the ultimate purpose of training the mind or reaching enlightenment, whereas "iaijutsu" implies training in the art with the ultimate purpose of mastering the techniques for technique's sake. It is the view of Calgary Rakushinkan that each of us may take what they like from it.

For more on iai see "Iaido/Iaijutsu."