All weapons represent the possibility of permanent injury or death to both the user of the weapons and others who are nearby. These injuries can be the result of inappropriate use by the practitioner or a significant flaw in the weapon itself. To reduce the risk of injury from inappropriate use we have established a set of rules and customs that all students must follow. We do not allow exceptions as this could lead to serious injury. To reduce the risk from flawed weaponry we require that EVERY weapon brought into the Dojo must be examined and authorized by the head instructor or his or her authorized representative. Again, there can be no exceptions. Once a specific weapon has been authorized it need not be checked again, though periodic spot checks by instructors will likely occur to ensure that weapons remain in good condition after extended use.
Students must follow these guidelines when using or practicing with any weapon. Students who flagrantly violate these general safety rules may be subject to permanent expulsion.
- Despite what is often a fairly innocuous appearance, students must appreciate that any weapon can be deadly. Weapons are not to be swung or thrust indiscriminately or used when others not participating in an exercise may be nearby.
- Students must not use the weapon on or practice weapons drills with others who have not been trained on the use of the weapon.
- Students must remain in constant control of the weapon at all times and must do everything possible to prevent the weapon from becoming a missile or moving in a manner that can cause injury to others.
- Each time a weapon is to be employed the student must inspect the weapon for any cracks, splinters, worn components, or loose fittings. These must be repaired or the weapon may not be used until these issues are resolved. Students must allow authorized instructors to periodically inspect any weapon brought to the Dojo to ensure the weapon is in a good and safe condition.
- Students must not pick up or otherwise touch another’s weapons except:
- When given specific permission from the weapon’s owner (it is considered impolite to ask for such permission unless you are an instructor seeking permission to inspect a weapon).
- When working together on drills, Kata, or exercises in which touching, grasping, or taking control of another’s weapon is appropriate and accepted practice.
- During an emergency where removal of a weapon is necessary to prevent subsequent injury.
- Students must not bring to the Dojo any weapons which they know to be unsafe, defective, or that can easily result in the injury of others. All weapons brought into the Dojo must be evaluated and approved by an authorized instructor before the weapon can be employed in any manner.
- When a weapon is not currently in use it must be stored or placed in a manner that will not cause accidental injury to others. Weapons should not be placed on the floor, stood against a wall, propped in a corner, or placed on top of bags or other equipment where, if jostled, they could easily fall causing an injury to others. The proper place for a weapon not currently in use is on a weapons rack.
- No weapon should ever be used in a manner that is likely to cause serious injury to another. This includes using a weapon in “realistic scenarios” where if someone were to trip, fall, misstep, or have bad timing it can lead to serious injury or death.
- Weapons should not be tested to see how much force or what activities are required to break the weapon. Such actions will likely cause unexpected consequences (e.g. flying pieces) that can lead to serious or fatal injuries.
- Use any weapon at any time to lash out in anger at another in the Dojo.
The above are general rules that apply to any weapon, including the Jo. Other weapons may have additional rules of behavior and etiquette. For example, the Katana has a large number of additional safety practices that regulate its use. Whenever weapon usage guidelines differ from those above, the more stringent guideline will be enforced.