In the world of martial arts, particularly in traditional Japanese disciplines like Jujutsu, respect isn’t merely a polite gesture but an intrinsic aspect of training and philosophy. Rooted deeply in Japanese culture, the concept of respect, or “Reigi” in Japanese, permeates every aspect of Jujutsu practice, shaping the relationships between practitioners, their instructors, and the art itself.

The Essence of Respect in Japanese Jujutsu

Respect in Japanese Jujutsu extends far beyond mere courtesy; it embodies a profound sense of reverence, discipline, and humility. At its core, respect is ingrained in the hierarchical structure of the dojo (training hall) and reflects the traditional Japanese societal values of hierarchy, loyalty, and honor.

Respect for the Sensei (Instructor)

In Japanese Jujutsu, the sensei occupies a position of utmost respect. They are not only instructors but mentors who guide students on their martial arts journey. Students show respect to their sensei through bowing, attentive listening, and following instructions diligently. The relationship between sensei and student is built on trust, humility, and a deep commitment to learning.

Respect for Fellow Practitioners

Respect among practitioners forms the foundation of a harmonious training environment. Regardless of skill level or experience, all students are expected to treat each other with courtesy and consideration. This fosters a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support within the dojo. Partners show respect during training by conducting themselves with control, ensuring the safety of their training partners, and offering constructive feedback.

Respect for the Art

Respect for Jujutsu as an art form is fundamental to its practice. This reverence is demonstrated through adherence to tradition, dedication to continuous improvement, and preservation of the art’s principles and techniques. Practitioners honor the lineage of Jujutsu by studying its history, understanding its cultural significance, and upholding its traditions with integrity.

The Role of Rituals and Etiquette

Rituals and etiquette play a crucial role in expressing respect within the context of Japanese Jujutsu. These ceremonial practices serve to reinforce discipline, mindfulness, and the interconnectedness of the martial arts community. Key rituals include:

  • Rei (Bow): Bowing is a symbolic gesture of respect and humility. It is performed upon entering and leaving the dojo, before and after training with a partner, and when greeting the sensei.
  • Seiza (Formal Sitting): Seiza is a traditional Japanese sitting posture that signifies reverence and attentiveness. It is often adopted during formal ceremonies, meditation sessions, or when receiving instruction from the sensei.
  • Oath of Respect: Some dojos may have a formal oath or code of conduct that students recite at the beginning or end of each training session. This serves as a reminder of the principles of respect, discipline, and honor that govern the practice of Jujutsu.

Respect Beyond the Dojo

The lessons of respect learned in the dojo extend beyond the confines of training sessions and into everyday life. Practitioners of Japanese Jujutsu are encouraged to embody the principles of respect, humility, and integrity in their interactions with others, whether at work, school, or in their communities. The discipline cultivated through martial arts training instills a sense of responsibility and mindfulness that transcends physical techniques.


In traditional Japanese Jujutsu, respect is not just a formality; it is a way of life. It shapes the relationships between students and instructors, fosters camaraderie among practitioners, and honors the rich tradition of the martial arts. By embracing the principles of respect, humility, and discipline, practitioners not only become proficient in self-defense but also cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world. As the ancient samurai understood, true strength lies not only in physical prowess but in the nobility of character forged through the practice of respect.