Uechi Ryu Emblem  Okinawan Karate Club

Tradition - Why We Remove Our Shoes In The Dojo

Traditionally when a student joins a Japanese martial arts school they are asked to leave their shoes at the entrance of the dojo. This is an ancient tradition in Japan. The inside of a house is clearly distinguished from the outside. Shoes are worn outside; they are removed when you enter the house. It is more traditional to remove the shoes at the entrance way, just inside the front door of a Japanese home. This habit, of course, had developed naturally over time as a way to maintain sanitary conditions inside the home. Removing ones shoes at the door has an even deeper meaning. Japanese children are taught that evil things stick to the bottom of the shoes. To keep these evil things from entering the house, children are taught to remove their shoes before entering. And that wasn’t all. After removing your shoes you must place them so that the toes point toward the outside of the house. Evil things must not be directed toward the inside of the house.

Japanese children learn early that proper removal and placement of their shoes in an important and serious matter. Parents make it clear that children from proper homes are always neat and remove their shoes and line them up with the shoes pointed outside when they enter someone’s house.

A popular Zen saying is that “if one can not line up their shoes, it will be difficult to find order in the world around you”.