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Etiquette

Etiquette is defined as an unwritten code of behavior which reflects social expectations. In the martial arts (Bu-Do), etiquette is all important, not as a ritual, but as a means to define behavior while training - and in the traditional aspect of martial arts, can be the difference of life or death.

First and foremost, Aikido is a martial art, and as such, it deals with life and death and conflict. Aikido can be very destructive, but it always chooses to protect and nurture life. When training with weapons (in aikido we train with wooden weapons - Boken / wooden sword, Jo / wooden staff, and Tanto / wooden knife) every movement has significance. The weapons are used as an extension of one's own body and consciousness, and a martial artist should have the humility, modesty, and a heightened awareness to one's self, in order to avoid injury.

This is achieved through etiquette, or what is called in Japanese 'Reigisaho'. If Aikido is misused, then there will be no martial art, no protection of life, and there will only be a fight of life and death. Therefore, 'Reigisaho' is a means to discipline one's self and connect to the philosophy of life and the respect for one's training partner, the teacher, the dojo - and finally, to life itself.

This is the choice of Aikido - a life and death situation, a conflict - transformed into life, protection of life, nurturing of life. Through etiquette one educates the body and gestures. These are not empty ceremonial movements, rather, they reflect the level of development of the martial artist. It is said that by the way one steps on the Tatami (training mats), you can tell the real level (consciousness) of the Aikido martial artist.

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