Judo practice has many rules of etiquette, manners, and ethics. Above all, judo students learn important values of respect, respect for their instructors, or sensei; their partners, both senior and junior to them; the officials and referees of judo; the families and friends of judo classmates; and above all, themselves. Each dojo has its own code of conduct, spelling out the do's and don'ts of behavior. Judo students learn to be attentive, and develop a good work ethic that they can carry with them into others parts of their lives. Judo students learn modesty and fairplay. Values related to sincerity, courage, and commitment are fostered through the honest actions of attack and defense. Arrogance is not allowed, and judo students learn to persevere in a physically and mentally demanding training that fosters emotional control and diligence. Judo students greet one another with respect and courtesy, and afford their sensei with esteem and admiration. In short, judo students learn much of the social etiquette necessary to become solid citizens of the world.
Of the many rituals that are a part of judo, perhaps none is clearer and poignant than the bow. In judo, bowing is a signal of respect. Judo students bow when entering and leaving the dojo. They bow to the teacher at the beginning and end of practice, to give thanks and appreciation to the sensei for their teaching. The entire class, including the teachers, often bow at the beginning and end of each class to the head area of the dojo containing all the objects of respect. Before practicing with each other, students bow to show respect to each other, and they bow once again at the end to give thanks for the workout. In formal judo matches, contestants bow at the beginning and end of the match, to signify respect and courtesy for each other as opponents, and to the institution and rules of judo, which fosters fairplay and sportspersonship.
Bowing is also a posture of humility, gratitude, and appreciation. Through their judo training, students literally bow hundreds of times a week. Over the years, bowing will become an integral part of your attitude and perspective on life, and others. It is in this fashion that judo moulds its students to be admirable citizens, both on and off the mat.