Dojo Etiquette

Dojo Etiquette as set forth by the S.K.I.F. are to be carefully followed. These rules have been handed down from ancient times and are continued as part of the Karate-do.

  • Whenever entering or leaving the dojo, stand in the doorway, face the front, bow and say “oss”.
  • Remove shoes upon entering the dojo. Shoes are NEVER worn on the training floor. Shoes will be neatly placed on the shelf, not scattered about on the floor.
  • Late arrivals should make themselves known to the Instructor by kneeling at the side of the Dojo floor, bowing to the Shrine or Shomen and then to the Instructor where the student must wait for permission to join the class.
  • When sitting, always sit cross-legged or in seiza position. (If you have a knee problem, please speak to the Sempai.)
  • While a class is in session, karate-ka should not lean against the wall or lie down on the mats. Rather, they should conduct themselves in a more acceptable manner paying strict attention to the instructions being given or the class being taught.
  • The Karate student must show courtesy and respect to all instructors and fellow students.   Always address the instructors by their proper title, Sensei or Sempai (senior student), inside the dojo. THIS INCLUDES PARENTS AND ADULTS.
  • Acknowledge the Sensei or Sempai with a loud “Oss” when they speak to you or say “Hai (yes) Sensei” or “Hai Sempai”. Always acknowledge criticism given by the instructor or any other person.
  • Be on time so you will not interrupt classes or instructors by being late. It is proper to ask the instructor for permission to practice when arriving late for class, or if you need to leave early.
  • Every time you get a new partner for any exercise, bow. Every time you’re about to switch partners, bow to your old partner before moving on to the next.
  • Treat your partner courteously and with proper etiquette. Always challenge your partner to a degree that is beneficial to his/her learning.
  • Junior students must look to seniors for guidance and treat them with respect.
  • Senior belts must set an example for the junior belts. You must lead junior belts by example.
  • Talking back to the instructor or senior in a condescending manner is strictly forbidden, whether you think that you are right or wrong the only acceptable answer is OSS. One must be willing to obey the rules and learn self-discipline.
  • Your GI must be NEAT and WASHED CLEAN at all times. Cleanliness will eliminate the possibility of offending others and a clean mind is a necessity for dedicating yourself to your training. Your belt should NEVER be washed, only air-dried. It symbolizes the spirit of your effort.
  • When adjusting your GI or re-tying your belt it is proper etiquette to turn away from the front (shomen) and away from your partner. (It is improper behavior to dress or adjust your GI while facing someone.)
  • Toenails and fingernails are to be kept short to prevent injury. Long hair is to be tied back during training.
  • Makeup and jewelry are not to be worn during training sessions. ◦It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the Dojo is clean, tidy and safe at all times.
  • Dojo fees must always be paid on time. This is also Karate, it is disrespectful to expect an instructor or club secretary to remind you of such matters.



  • Dojo:   Place of the way; Training room
  • Karate:   Empty hand or China hand
  • Karate-do:   Way of the empty hand
  • Karateka:   Person that practices the art of karate-do
  • Kata:   Form
  • Kiai:   A fighting yell combining physical and spiritual energy
  • Kihon:    Basic training
  • Kumite:   Sparring or partner work
  • Sparring  Kamae:    Fighting position with focus on attack or defense
  • Mokuso:    Meditation
  • OSS:   Phonetic expression meaning: “push on”, thank you, please, I understand, sorry.  In karate it is used nearly every time a response is required.  The word should be spoken by using the Hara (tanden), in the lower abdomen.   Spoken while performing a bow, the word OSS expresses respect, sympathy and confidence to your partner.  OSS also tells your sensei that his/her instructions were understood, and that the student will do his/her best to follow them. OSS is used with the salutation to the teacher (sensei-ni-rei) and to each other (otagai-ni-rei).  The OSS at the beginning is a request to go together in the Way of Karate, and an OSS at the end of the class, in thanks.
  • Otagai-ni-rei:   Salutation (bow) to each other (Mutual salutation)
  • Sensei:   Instructor, teacher
  • Sensei-ni-rei:   Salutation (bow) to the teacher
  • Sempai:   Senior student    •
  • Sempai-ni-rei: Salutation (bow) to senior student
  • Shomen-ni-rei:    Salutation to the front
  • Shotokan:   “Hall of Shoto”, Shoto means “billowy pine trees” and was the name of Master Funakoshi when he wrote poetry in his youth.  Kan means a large building or hall.
  • Domo, Arigato, and Domo Arigato Gozaimas:    Thank you in various degrees of politeness.



Metro Karate Kyu Testing and Rank Philosophy

Mertro Karate Shotokan Karate-Do is affiliated with Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF) and Shotokan karate International Federation –USA.   We are dedicated to the teachings and curriculum as put forth by Kancho Kanazawa.


What is testing in Shotokan Karate and why is it important:

Testing is an opportunity for a student to demonstrate how s/he has grown in his or her knowledge and skills in the fundamentals of Shotokan Karate.  It allows the student to demonstrate his or her skills to the chief instructor, other instructors and other students in the Dojo.  This is done in the presence of the entire dojo.  The chief instructor acknowledges that a student has reached the new level of growth by passing them to the next kyu or black belt ranks.  Higher rank is recognized by a change in belt color or titles within the kyu and black belt levels.  These principles are focusing on the kyu ranks.  Remember that testing is like a road marker, it is a way for you to check to see how far you have come and find out what you need to continue.

As a student begins their journey in learning Shotokan Karate, there are fundamental or basic techniques, applications of these techniques and a philosophy of what these techniques mean and why are they essential to the study of karate for the student to explore.  With each step the student demonstrates their growth and knowledge.  Each progression is symbolized by a belt color and rank.  Each student should understand the ranks….as these provide the framework for teaching and learning within the dojo.   Each level has a new responsibility and respect and it takes time to move up through the ranks.  Details on the test specifics are described in the “Testing Requirements” section of this website.


There is a minimum of 3 months training between each kyu rank up until you reach 3rd kyu (or first level of brown belt).  After 3rd kyu there is a minimum of 6 month between tests.


How do you know when you are ready to test?  

Students will work with your instructors to determine if you are ready to test.  An instructor’s verbal permission is required to test at all levels.  The skills you will demonstrate in the test are specific for each level and defined in the “Testing Requirements” section of this website.

Each time you test you will be tested on the basics, kata and kumite required for that level.   And you will be asked to perform any kata that you previously learned…..’which one’ is selected by the Chief Instructor.  Each kata is a building block in your training.  And as you grow in your understanding of kata, how you perform the kata will show an increased understanding of its applications or ‘bunkai’ and its technique.     Seeking this permission allows a student and instructor to agree that the student is ready to move to the next level.  It does not guarantee that the student will pass, but if a student decides to test without discussing it with their instructor the results will be mixed.


The Testing Process 

  • It is Metro Karate’s goal is to provide a test every 12 weeks to encourage students test.
  • Testing schedules will be posted in the dojo and on the website.
  • Testing fees are also posted in the dojo and on the website.
  • Your test is not just the day of testing but includes how you have trained in classes leading up to the test.  Hence the saying:  “Train like you test and test like you train!”
  • All elements of the test must be done with full speed and spirit.  No move should be done in slow motions or without intent.
  • During the test you must show ultimate respect for your Sensei, Instructor, fellow testing students, other students and yourself.
  • Bowing and Kia’s are important…don’t forget them.
  • When not on the floor testing, please sit or stand quietly at the back of the room.
  • Watch the test…you will learn something with each test.
  • The test is a part of your journey and a cause for celebration and a sense of humility.
  • The test is a time to experience a communal dojo sense of pride and support for each other.

Who are the instructors that administer the test?

Sensei Michael Hubbard has the title of Chief Instructor which is the highest position in the dojo and he is a 5th DAN  black belt.  Sensei Michael administers the test for the kyu ranks and has other high-ranking Masters in the organization administering black belt tests.  (There are separate guidelines for black belts).  When Sensei Michael administers the kyu tests another instructor or instructors who have helped train the students may also sit at the testing table and provide input into the student’s test and how the student has demonstrated their karate knowledge and skills during training and during the test.  It is the Chief Instructor, Sensei Michael, who decides whether a student is ready to move to the next level.   He is assisted by 3rd DAN David Toft and 2nd DAN Gia Shin.