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Martial Arts Etiquette

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  • Martial Arts Etiquette

    If you look in most martial arts clubs you would typically see uniforms, belts, bowing, instructors teaching with set terminology, and all those instructors using a title of some kind such as Sensei or Sifu but some clubs have done away with a lot of traditions, Styles change, people and club rules even change. This is good for growth.However the one thing that should not change and needs to be held on to is the Martial Arts Etiquette. Rules may be individual to a club, but the etiquette is the thing that lets us relate, communicate and interact with one another, despite what school you are from. Etiquette equals Respect.
    Today in some clubs people train in shorts and t-shirt. Some clubs may or may not use a ranking system anymore. And in some it is common to see students refer to their instructors by their first name.
    There is nothing wrong with this. However one thing that has been lost is the notion of family unity within the club. Many people are now out for themselves. It is driven by ego and personal gain. Even though we are in the martial arts to better ourselves and helping those students around us.
    This idea of only training for yourself then bleeds into Martial Arts schools as well. We see it with students who only want to work with certain partners because of their skill level. We see it with students who think the rules don’t apply to them, or regularly question the instructor. This lack of etiquette is seen in students who are commonly late to class, are excessively aggressive or disrupting during class. Students who complain about the teachings, are rude to newer people or treat them like outsiders, and are impatient with other students that learn at a different pace.
    Unfortunately we also see this in instructors who are overly aggressive as well, lack control and hurt students regularly, engage in demeaning or inappropriate conduct, lose their temper with students in class, have students engage in dangerous training, and teach the dangerous techniques of the martial arts without teaching when to use them, or advising them of the possible legal consequences.
    And the most obvious lack of etiquette is seen when badmouthing members of another club with no real knowledge of what they do or how they train.

    In short, Etiquette is like oil in the engine it lets us work together without causing friction… both in and out of training. Martial Arts are meant to teach us not only self defense, but also how we can use it in life. Etiquette is the most important one of all.
    ​​​​​

  • #2
    Very important topic thanks for your insights

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    • #3
      Thankfully i have never experienced this, except for one time. A bushido teacher at my university invaded our informal booked session of all of the other campus instructors, challenged one of our guys and wouldnt leave us alone so bless him my mate agreed the challenge. I refereed it and when the bushido guy was 10-2 down with a black eye he decided to challenge me to a sword duel. I reported him to my sensei who would have kicked his ass if he had dared turn up to the duel. That kind if stuff is so damn pointless. He prized purity if japanese etiquette over basic human decency and humility. I grew up on hard core dojo respect. This guy made it look ignoble and conceited. So people from all sides can spoil martial arts. Being an empty cup to be filled by whomsoever can teach you is surely the way to behave

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      • #4
        I'm curious to know if anyone has seen a British club which doesn't follow the normal Eastern traditions of uniforms / titles / bowing yet has good harmony in the dojo and how they achieved this?

        I've had 1 quite strange experience when training in another aikido organisation where most of the seniors were "rebelling" against a fair few of the Japanese customs and the juniors seemed ignorant to them, it just didn't seem right to me. Strangely their head had been quite heavily influenced by the the Japanese Doshu i train under.

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        • #5
          when i trained in wado ryu it was pretty laid back, lots of conversation, taking the piss, and jokes by relaxed but incredibly good instructors.
          at the same time i was also invited to be a guest trainee with the neighbouring shotokan club. the sensei there (a good friend of mine) used only grunts, never spoke more than a few words, only counted in japanese mainly. andorderthe bow. lots of "USSSS!" and "KI-AI" like cavemen grunting at each other.
          working with budhhists to learn t'ai chi we did whole retreats without conversation.
          I think I learned more from those than the ones with talking.

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          • #6
            I tend to be quite relaxed in my classes. Students know I am the teacher and listen when I am talking. the balance for me is that when I need discipline and focus, it is always there. This is balanced with good humour, relaxed teaching and mutual respect for students. The latter is the most important. I do not demand respect, but always give it first. the result of this is excellent retention of students. I feel I have the balance just about right these days.

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            • #7
              I believe etiquette forms a really important part of everyone’s training, it encourages self discipline, self control and respect for fellow students and your teacher. I think particularly in Japanese martial arts etiquette is a reflection of the society they come from and should be upheld. Ninjutsu along with a lot of martial arts is 100’s of years old, maintaining traditional etiquette upholds the integrity and history of these arts, I think it would be a great shame if this was lost or became diluted.

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              • #8
                I have trained in both very formal environments where etiquette is front and center. I have also trained in environments where formalities are more cultural and etiquette is much less visible; almost non existent. I personally believe the value comes first from the teacher and extends to the individuals in the group. For me, what I take with me when I leave, what becomes a part of me and extends to others by virtue is my take away. Also the relationships I've built through the practice. My most rewarding experiences, had little ego involved, even when highly skilled abilities were obvious, and individuals have treated each other like family despite expectations around traditional etiquette. These groups seem harder to find. I have seen academy etiquette taken too far and I have always left. Time is too precious . Although, always important to respect the etiquette of the instructor and group you are training under / with. If the vibe doesn't end up being your cup of tea, we have the freedom to move on and that's a beautiful thing.
                Last edited by Jeremy; 17-04-2020, 12:02 AM.

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