In Aikido, refining one’s spirit, showing respect, and developing awareness are equally important to learning the physical techniques. This part of the practice is not as concrete as the steps we take to learn each waza, however we do have a set of guidelines that have been passed down to us by our Sensei’s and Sempai, that provide a foundation for this training. Observing the rules of etiquette helps put us in a more focused mindset, teaches us to appreciate the history of the art, and gives us way to show our respect. By bowing upon entering the dojo, we are leaving whatever happened that day at the door, clearing our minds to practice. Lining up quietly at the beginning of class gives us a moment to settle and feel grounded. By sitting properly and paying attention we are more observant and aware of our surroundings. Not talking during class allows an opportunity to develop our sense of feeling and intuition, which makes us a more sensitive training partner. As nage, we can better sense resistance or loss of connection. As uke we can provide a more sincere attack and opportunity for our partner to learn. Through the practice of etiquette we are showing our respect and appreciation for for the art and the training community. I like to think the gestures we make provides us a way to say thank you. Treating Sensei with the utmost respect is a way to say thank you for the countless time and energy he has given us through his teachings. We can show this thanks by following simple forms of etiquette such as bowing and saying thank you after he provides guidance, folding his hakama after class, or offering our help where we can to make things easier. Bowing to fellow students at the beginning and end of practice, and being a committed training partner lets your peers know how appreciative you are to have them to train with. We show our gratitude to O’Sensei and appreciation for the art of Aikido when we bow towards the Shomen at the beginning and end of class. Keeping the dojo clean shows our respect for the space as well as the community. Paying attention to our own personal hygiene by keeping nails trimmed, gi’s cleaned and looking presentable shows respect for ourselves and our fellow Aikidoka. We move at such a fast pace today that it is easy to take things for granted. The gestures we make by observing etiquette allows us to take notice. It encourages us to take the time to feel calm and centered, it gives us a way to show out gratitude, and it reminds us to appreciate the details of the art that make it so beautiful.