Etiquette & Advanced Etiquette
Dojang Etiquette is the rules you should follow both inside and outside of the Dojang regardless of age, gender and grade.
DO NOT DEMAND OR EXPECT RESPECT FROM ANYONE. YOU WILL ALWAYS EARN RESPECT AND ADMIRATION FROM YOUR CORRECT ACTIONS. BLACK BELTS MUST ALWAYS LEAD BY EXAMPLE SO THAT THE LOWER GRADES CAN COPY AND LEARN CORRECTLY.
Good etiquette is the basis of any martial art. Without it the whole martial art system which is built on respect would collapse.
Below are the basic rules and acceptable behaviour which apply both inside and outside of the Dojang. These rules are not only for beginners to follow but for every single student of Taekwondo irrespective of grade and position.
If the instructors and higher grades do not observe these rules the white belts will not learn correctly as they copy the actions of the higher grades.
The Dojang is a place where we perfect ourselves both physically and mentally. It should be a served and solemn place.
ALWAYS REMEMBER TO:
Bow when entering and leaving the Dojang.
Honour and respect your instructor by bowing when seeing them for the first time and when leaving as well as when you require their assistance and help. Not bowing to your instructor is the ultimate sign of disrespect as they are the person where all of your martial art knowledge comes from.
Never be late for training always arrive early and warm up ready for the start of the lesson. If however circumstances arise where the lesson has already started, students must get ready to start training and stand at the back of the Dojang until the instructor’s permission is given to join the class.
Students, irrespective of age, must never leave the Dojang floor without the permission of the instructor.
Never interrupt your instructor and listen carefully to their advice. To show your respect always bow whenever they have helped you individually or as a class.
When going to study with other instructors always ask permission out of courtesy for your instructor.
If there are ever a number of high grades in attendance bow to them in order of highest grade as to not embarrass your instructor. If you are unsure always bow to your instructor first until introductions can be made.
No food, drink or chewing gum is allowed on the Dojang floor.
No jewellery (including earrings, rings and necklaces) is allowed whilst training. In the rare case of a ring that will not come off students need to make sure it is covered with a plaster or similar.
The Taekwondo Dobok must always be clean and worn correctly with your belt. Students must also ensure they have clean hands and feet for training.
Always inform the instructor BEFORE the lesson if you are going to be absent from either a lesson or an event.
Treat your fellow students as brother/sister and respect at all times your instructor and fellow students regardless of age and sex.
Always keep the Dojang clean and tidy; never just leave it to the instructor.
ADVANCED MARTIAL ART ETIQUETTE
For Black Belts especially it is vital that they demonstrate excellent dojang etiquette both inside and outside of the dojang. A high level of dojang etiquette is a sign that an individual or a club is well educated in the traditional martial art ways, especially to outsiders looking in.
Below are some advanced etiquette points which black belts should adhere to at all times:
- Honour at all times your instructor. True martial art students can only ever have ONE Instructor this is fundamental to the ethics of traditional martial art. A good instructor’s will help and guide you, pass on their knowledge and help you progress correctly in the martial art. In return for their instructor’s loyalty students should also be loyal to their club and Instructor as well as themselves. Therefore students need to choose their Instructor carefully as they cannot change clubs unless their Instructor’s permission has been given.
- Honour your fellow students and try and help those a lesser grade than yourself.
- Always maintain humility, be considerate and kind to those less fortunate.
- Always approach learning and training with an empty cup. Never go onto the floor with the attitude that you already know it. There is no such thing as perfect technique it can always be improved and developed in some way.
- Lead by example and never demand respect. Respect will come by stepping onto the floor and training regardless of age and position in the club.
- Trust your instructor’s judgment as long as you are training.
- Remember that instructor’s are human and will make mistakes along the way.
- Always be courteous.
- View criticism as an opportunity to grow.
- Never openly criticise your instructor.
- Take pride in your club, your fellow students and yourself.
- Partner training is an opportunity to discipline your ego.
- Intimidation of others in training is low level.
- Perseverance and tenacity is a sign of strength, never give up.
- Cleanliness shows you honour yourself by example.
- Do not be greedy for information.
- After a grading or special occasion remember to thank your Instructor for their teachings.
- If you have a misunderstanding with your instructor bring them a gift the next time you see them and apologise in a humble fashion.
- Do not expect your instructor to open the gift in front of you.
- Always address and introduce your instructor with their title as a sign of respect.
- Bowing to your instructor is a sign of respect and gratitude. Remember that in the martial art you are who you are because of your Instructor and their knowledge they have passed to you. You bow to show your gratitude to them for passing on this information.
- NEVER debate the cost of instruction and always pay on time to save your Instructor unnecessary embarrassment.
- Try not to be late to class or leave early without explanation.
- The saying ‘Instructor has no hands, no pockets’ means that when with your instructor they should not move or carry things. When out in public they should not pay for incidentals or meals.
- Senor students are responsible for their juniors understanding of these ethics. Black belts have a responsibility to help their Instructor and club pass on this knowledge to lower grades. If a black belt notices a lower grade not observing Dojang etiquette a quiet word is all that is needed.
- If it is within your power to save those less fortunate than yourself from abuse of any kind do so.
- When studying with other instructor’s your instructor’s permission must be sought first.
- Never hand your instructor cash you must pay them honourably. Putting your money in a white envelope is the acceptable way to deal with money.
- Never wear another symbol of rank to another school.
- Always bow when entering someone else’s place of training.
- If studying with a guest instructor always open doors for them and address them with respect.
- When eating with seniors always allow them to start first and take the seat of honour.
- If in doubt defer to your instructor, let them guide you.
- Don’t be afraid to let your instructor see your inner character, if you follow this code you will earn their respect.
- Understand that other martial arts may have additional points of etiquette for you to follow, as long as they generally agree with the above it will honour you to observe them.
- Practice that which your instructor shows you.
- Be honest and loyal to your instructor, your fellows and your club.
A lack of understanding in etiquette means a lack of understanding in the martial arts especially for outsiders looking in. Every now and again read back over this dojang etiquette chapter as it is human nature to forget. It is up to the black belts in the club to ensure the lower grades observe these manners.
Lower grades copy actions of the higher grades so the best way to teach is to lead by example.