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Begin Well, End Well

It is very important to show the proper courtesies when you begin training at a dojo. You might ask the sensei if you can watch a class first. If you are interested in joining, you might ask the sensei (or the person in charge of new students) what is expected of new students. Do you have the time to attend classes regularly and practice each new lesson at home?

If you have been referred to the dojo by another sensei, you might be asked to hand carry a letter of reference from the referring sensei. Make sure that you handle this responsibly.

When you begin training, you should follow all of the rules and procedures applicable to new students. One of the senior students will probably inform you of these. An important responsibility of all students is to come to class early and help clean and setup the dojo.

Here's where it gets a little awkward for some students. If you decide to quit the dojo/class, you should also shown the proper courtesies. You should come to the class and speak to the sensei personally. It is not good form to quit by telephone, letter, or by notifying one of the other students. It is very rude to quit without notifying the sensei.

When you come to class, you should thank the sensei for teaching you and discuss your reasons for quiting (to the extent possible). It would be thoughtful to bring an omiyage (thoughtful gift). See Never Go Empty Handed and Omiyage On Return.

Your sensei might accept your decision. He might ask you whether you might want to take a leave of absence until you have the necessary time to train. You should carefully consider each option. If you quit, you are no longer a student of the sensei and member of the dojo. If you take a leave of absence, you are.

Even after you leave the dojo, you should try your best to be supportive of it and show your respect to the sensei.

I had a student who trained with me for only about a year. He was a good student and also practiced naginata. Recently, he kindly arranged for his naginata sensei to visit my dojo to give a demonstration. My former student assisted and was accompanied by several senior members of his dojo. My former student was very thoughtful to do this. By arranging the demonstration, he helped my students to appreciate the naginata and kusarigama. Thanks to him, they got to observe and meet a fantastic sensei. I think very highly of my former student.

Begin well, end well.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin