Safety and dojo culture

In Kendo we are used to showing reverence for people, places and things. This respect contains within it the seeds of safe and healthy conduct.

For instance we bow to the dojo, our training environment. By doing so we vow to keep it clean and therefore safe for use. Sweeping and mopping the floor helps to clear it of objects like pins that might cause injury, and shows us if nails are sticking up from the floor.

We bow to shomen which is the symbol of the ongoing tradition of which we are a part. By doing so we vow to look after our own bodies so that we can contribute to that tradition for as long as possible. This is the best way to honour the kindness of the sensei who have gone before and who have given their time so that we may progress.

We bow to each other in recognition of the fact that we can't train alone. Inherent in this is the recognition that our training partners are precious and we must do everything to look after them so that they, like us, can contribute and help us train for as long as possible.

In Kendo we don't bow to the sword as such as they do in Iaido. Perhaps we should? It would be appropriate. I bow to my men before I put it on. I feel that I am asking it to protect me and it does a good job of that, so it is worthy of respect.

Respect and reverence means we take a little bit of time to slow down and notice the things around us that are important to us. From a safety point of view this 'noticing' is very useful as it means we might see details that otherwise remain 'invisible'.

Here are some specific points I would like you to keep in mind while training at Nanseikan, or at any dojo for that matter:


  • If you have received a hard blow to the head, either from someone's shinai, or from a fall, and it makes you feel dizzy, or nauseous, or causes you to see 'stars' or hear music in your head, immediately stop training, tell a dojo leader, sit down and take off your men. If you have been knocked unconscious for even just a moment, the same action applies. In all head injury cases you must see a doctor or got to hospital as soon as possible after training. Do not drive or ride a motor vehicle. Report back to dojo leaders on the doctor's prognosis. Usually it will be to avoid all contact sports for at least one week.
  • Hydrate regularly, especially in warm weather.
  • If you notice that you are suddenly feeling strange or in pain, please let someone know and then excuse yourself from training. Take off your men. Drink water. If the feeling disappears you can resume training. If it returns when you start training again then you should stop for the rest of training.
  • If you have to sit out training, make sure you move well away from the training area and keep your shinai and bogu out of the way, especially while people are doing jigeiko. Always sit on the side of the dojo appropriate to your grade.
  • If you notice someone else is not well, as them what the problem is. It might be nothing or it might be serious, but always ask.
  • Look after smaller and younger training partners. Adjust the power of your strikes consciously and appropriately.
  • Let your training partner know if they are repeatedly hitting too hard by stopping and telling them politely.
  • Check all your shinai regularly. You should disassemble your training shinai about once a month if you are training regularly with it, to check for internal cracks. Internal cracks are more dangerous than external splintering.
  • Cover cuts on your feet and always clean up blood on the dojo floor immediately.
  • Inform the dojo leaders if there are items missing from the first aid kit.
  • Always bring your own sports tape to training if you use it regularly. 
  • Always check the length of your toenails and keep them neatly trimmed and smooth.
  • Please don't use baby powder on your body before training. It can get onto the dojo floor and cause patches of floor to become extremely slippery and dangerous.

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