By Erik Hofmeister
At the Athens Yoshukai dojo, we have a protocol distinct from some other martial arts schools and even most WYKKO schools.
White Belts Are Guests
At AYK, we consider new students guests. They are not yet full members of the dojo. They aren’t expected to teach or sweep or conduct other duties of students. They are accorded respect, but new students come and go. Once they have tested and showed their dedication, then they are considered full members. We address white belts by their first name, to indicate that they are indeed visitors but not yet members of the dojo.
Color Belts are Members
Once a student tests to 8th kyu, they are considered full students in the school. They are expected to keep the dojo clean and may be called upon to warm up class or teach. They are addressed by their American-standard title (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.) and last name. This is to create a culture of respect and formality among the students.
Black Belts are Teachers
Although students teach throughout their time in the dojo, once a student reaches Shodan, the expectation for teaching is greater. They are still learning, but they now have a greater burden for passing their knowledge on to others. Thus, they are addressed as Sensei and last name. This is to indicate that blackbelts are responsible for teaching.
The Head Instructor
The highest-ranked student at the dojo is the head instructor. This person is responsible for all the teaching and direction of the dojo. The head instructor is addressed as Sensei. This indicates that the head instructor is ultimately responsible for the dojo, and is accorded a respect distinct from blackbelts in the dojo.