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Visiting and Welcoming

One of the many wonderful things about practicing Karate- Do is that hundreds of thousands practice it worldwide. No matter where one may visit or move to, it is highly likely that there is a Karate dojo somewhere in that city, county, state or country or continent. Therefore, when traveling abroad, it is always nice for the traveler to have a gi with him/her. Most dojos welcome visitors for training and for any other events (training camps, tournaments, banquets, parties, etc.) that may be associated with that dojo and/or its organization. Often times there may be certain requirements or stipulations for some of these events, but for the most part all Karate-ka are welcome. If a student knows ahead of time that he/she will would like to train at a dojo that is out of town, it is proper etiquette to always ask permission of and receive permission from the Chief Instructor of the organization that one is a member of (in our case Master Mikami). In our case being that Master Mikami is extremely well known and respected worldwide in Karate-Do, it is highly likely that he will know the instructor of the said dojo and/or its instructor/Chief Instructor. Likewise, it is extremely likely that the instructor of the dojo in question and/or its Chief Instructor knows or knows of Master Mikami. Being that Sensei Mikami is very knowledgeable and open minded about styles other than Shotokan, it is highly likely that this could even include training at a dojo of another style or another Shotokan organization. It must be remembered that when Master Mikami was helping establish Karate in the America beginning in 1963, styles and organizations were not seen as important; not just by the general public, but equally by those pioneers of Karate-Do, almost all of whom left their homeland to propagate the art that they loved and wanted to introduce others to. Karate was Karate. Same as Master Funakoshi always said, believed and practiced. In addition, when planning to visit a major dojo, Master Mikami will often write a brief letter of introduction for the student. It is also important to have one’s (in our case) signed JKA Passport or JKA/AF membership card with one’s current rank. It goes without saying that when visiting a dojo that the visitor ASK PERMISSION of the instructor to train at his/her dojo. And if given permission, to ask what the training fees are. In many cases, a one night training fee is waived as a sign of goodwill and a sign of benevolence. And do not forget one’s gi and belt. Preparedness always gives a good and serious impression. When visiting another dojo, we are representing Master Mikami and the Japan Karate Association/American Federation.

Club member Kellan visiting JKA Camp Crame at the National Police Compound in Manila, Philippines.

Following the etiquette and protocol of the dojo that is being visited goes without saying. Some examples are: If the students all bow and greet the instructor upon entering the dojo and bow to him/her upon either the student and/or the instructor exiting, that must be done. If the dojo trains a kata a certain way different than how one has been taught, the way of that dojo must be followed and adhered to while training in that dojo. If the dojo performs soji (cleaning), the student must show eagerness and happily perform soji as well. There is no stating, “in our dojo we just enter and exit as we please,” nor “we do this kata in our dojo differently,” and certainly never, “well, we don’t clean the floor in our dojo, if we ever do, we use a mop.” While training, it is very likely that the visitor will engage in some training of which one is not familiar with. It is of utmost importance to pay utmost attention, concentrate fully, try one’s best and do not make excuses to oneself, or to others. Likewise, it is extremely important to control one’s ego at all times. For example, when training in kumite, do not try to“show off” and/or try to impress the instructor, nor students of the dojo. Show great spirit, but always leave your ego at the door. Reminder: you are representing our Chief Instructor and the Japan Karate Association/American Federation. It is also important to keep in mind that in the 21st century, technology is often destroying the niceties and appreciation of the moment. Do NOT take video of the class or have another take video of the class without the prior permission of the instructor of the dojo! However, most (if not all) instructors and dojos gladly welcome taking photographs with visitors. If desired, politely ask. And finally yet importantly, it is of utmost importance to thank the instructor of the dojo for being allowed to be a guest at his dojo and for all of his/her instruction. In addition, when invited to socialize with members of the dojo being visited, by all means do! Karate is also about socializing and friendship, both beyond boundaries. It is not uncommon to have visitors in one’s dojo from other locations, organizations, or styles. No matter what the rank or length of training of the visitor, he/she must be welcomed and made to feel welcome. The visitor will most likely have questions about class times for different levels, training fees, general etiquette and most probably other questions. Any and all of these questions must be enthusiastically and helpfully replied to in a genuinely friendly and welcoming manner. It is also important to introduce the visiting student to the instructor of the dojo formally before class if at all possible. When a visiting student or students is/are visiting one’s dojo it is of utmost importance for all in the class to exert extra effort and train with extra spirit to represent the dojo and its to the visitor(s). Likewise, it is very important to be considerate of the fact that the visiting student(s) may not be familiar with any number of things in the class, such as in kihon, kata and kumite. It goes without saying that the visitor(s) should not be scolded (even lightly), balked at, scoffed at, embarrassed, humiliated nor patronized for an innocent mistake and/or misunderstanding. All genuine, outstanding instructors are aware of these facts, yet students must be mindful of them as well. “Reigi o omonzuru koto (respect others)!”

Post-training pic with Øyvind of JKA Norway, Cathy, Shane & Abdullah.

Including the visiting student(s) in social activities (even small ones, such as after training re-hydrating and refreshing) is very important as well. Often times, visitors may never have been to the town being visited and would welcome being shown around town if possible. It is of utmost importance for the visitor to have been made to feel welcome and to wish to return. Karate-do is indeed a worldwide family. A large part of its popularity and benefits is the international goodwill that is derived by all who continue to train in this wonderful martial art.

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