There is Etiquette in everything we do – even the Seminar Group Photo.
So the morning classes just ended, everyone is dehydrated, ready for lunch, Yudansha are about to start folding hakamas and the host dojo says, “Let’s all get in front of the kamiza for a group photo.” Now, this sounds like a simple task, but lots of mistakes happen:
• Tall people are blocking shorter people
• Shodans, Nidans and Sandans are trying to sit in the front center by the guest instructor
• Someone or a group of people are blocking the photo of O’Sensei
• Some people are kneeling on one knee while others are standing
• People in the photo trying to hide
So, let’s cover the basics. Unless you’re 5th Dan or higher, you shouldn’t be sitting in the front row near the center. That is reserved for the Guest Instructor, usually a 6 or 7th Dan Shihan. Next to him/her is the Chief Instructor and/or Dojo Cho of the Host Instructor and then other senior yudansha, usually Chief Instructors and/or Dojo Cho from visiting dojo’s.
Depending on the size of the seminar, e.g. number of people in the photo, there may be some senior Sandan’s in seiza towards the ends. Next, standing towards the middle should be more Yudansha, typically the junior Yudansha (1st Dan – 3rd Dan) and as that fans out, the Yukyusha. If you happen to be sitting in seiza in the front row, your sempai should not be to your right, he/she should be to your left. You want to make sure that the photo of O’Sensei is not blocked. Finally, if you’re standing behind someone and can’t see the camera, guess what, the camera can’t see you. If you’re sitting in seiza in the front row, your hands should be on your thighs. It is the job of your Chief Instructor to teach you these important details that may seem trivial but can cause you to make an unintentional etiquette faux-pas.