This is an outline of kendo training procedure. There are articles on etiquette/manners at a dojo, so please refer to them if you want to know more detailed explanations on etiquette/manners.
As it is said in budo that we start with a bow and finish with a bow, when we enter and leave a dojo, training place, we bow.
This is originally to show our respect and appreciation to the dojo we train at. Why originally?
Traditionally, dojos used to have a little shrine or a divine figure such as a martial god to protect the dojos and practitioners.
The bow was to show respect and appreciation to the divine figure. *Some dojos still keep a shrine or a divine figure at the front.
There is another important function in this bow though. The bow when entering the dojo is a sign to change our mind-set.
Kendo has become international. Some people have a conflict with bowing to a dojo or a divine figure. So this "changing our mind-set" should be more emphasised.
Once we step in a dojo, we are no longer in our normal world. We are in a place where we train to become a better person. The bow is a sign of the determination.
Please refer to "what is dojo" if you want to know the meaning of dojo.
When we leave the dojo, we bow again. It is to show our respect to the dojo we just have used. More importantly, we should have a feeling of appreciation to the dojo where we train. Without the place, we cannot even learn kendo. Thus, we make sure to bow when we leave.
Again this bow plays a role of a switch. This bow tells us that our training session is over. We go back to our normal life, but with what we've learned from the training.
This bowing has to be performed when we leave and re-enter the dojo if we have to leave the dojo during the training. So basically, when we enter and leave the dojo, we bow.
OK. Now I am going to talk about the how a normal training proceeds so you will have an idea of how a kendo training session goes.
I am going to talk about the followings.
We have to line up neatly straight. There should be a leader who tells us to line up. If there is no leader to tell you to line up, you have to make sure to place your equipment neatly on the floor.
When it is time to begin, usually we are in a seiza position. In some dojos, students step forwards from where they sit in seiza and line up. Whichever the case is for you, the leader will give you a command.
When you hear a command, Mokuso, quietly close your eyes. Place your left hand on top of your right hand with the palms facing up and make a circle with the thumbs.
Breathe in through your nose, hold the air for a few seconds in you and breathe out through your mouth.
When you hear "Yame" that means "stop", open your eyes and quietly place your hands back on your thighs.
Shomen is the front of the dojo. Traditionally, there is a little shrine or a divine figure at the front wall of the dojo. The Japanese bow to it to show appreciation and respect for protecting the dojo and the practitioners.
However, as I said earlier, kendo has become international. This does not work anymore outside Japan, unless people do not care.
It is a determination. It is a switch to change our mind-set again. And bow to our teachers and training partners to show our respect and appreciation.
If you train in armour or bogu on, your leader give a command to put your men (mask) on. If you do not have a men to put on, wait until other guys to put men on in your seiza position unless otherwise instructed.
Follow the instructions given by a leader or an instructor. Make sure to bow to your training partners before and after you train with them.
After the training, we line up again. Make sure the line is straight. On the command of seiza, everyone sit in seiza.
And if you have a men on, on a command of "Men wo Tore (or Men Tore)", take your men off. "Men wo Tore (or Men Tore)" means "Take your men off".
Again depending on the dojos, you will step forwards from where your equipment is and line up. Or you just stay where you are.
Meditation after training. Again breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Think about how your training went and what you should've done. Good time to think about how you will do better in the next training.
Now please pay attention to the order. At the beginning of training, we bow to shomen first. But at the end of training, we bow to sensei first.
You may have a little talk from your sensei or someone about the training. If you have this little talk, do not start taking off your bogu. Stay still in seiza and listen to them.
And when they are done with their talk, they will dismiss you. Start packing your stuff while your sensei is talking is considered to be very rude.