Etiquette Guidelines for the Dojang
- General Guidelines: You show respect for the art, to the instructors, to your fellow students, and to yourself by coming early for class, warm up in preparation for class, having a clean and presentable uniform, keeping your fingernails trimmed short, removing any jewellery before class, having clean feet, revising the material that you learned in the previous class, engaging in regular strengthening/flexibility/rehabilitation exercises, being well slept, and hydrating yourself.
- Greeting Instructors on Entering the Dojang: Upon entering the dojang, practitioners shall bow first to the ranking instructor in the room. As you approach your instructor, greet him or her formally using Mr/Mrs/Ms prenominal titles or their official organisational title or the generic 'Sahbumnim' (Korean). For instructors of Japanese lineage use 'Sensei' and those who practice Traditional Chinese Arts, it will be 'Sifu'. When addressed by an instructor, respond quickly with 'sir' or 'ma'am' and avoid informal 'yeah' or 'nah' in this dojang or any other martial arts school. If you do not know the instructor's name, please use 'Sir' or 'Ma'am' until you are able to greet them properly by name.
- Protocol for Bowing: Bowing is a form of greeting, but is not like a handshake. Dependant on the situation, a bow varies in angle of reclination, and duration. The bow can replace verbally saying 'thank you' or 'please'. The general purpose bow that we use often in the dojang is a bow from the waist of 30 degrees forward for a duration of about 3 seconds. When you bow, men keep your hands flat on your sides (women may choose to have palms on the front of their thighs), don't bob your head, and the eyes look slightly downward toward the angle you are bowing but maintains awareness of the person you are bowing to. If in interaction with a person who culturally bows in acknowledgement or greeting to you, it is customary to continue to return the bow, and not be on the receiving end of an unanswered bow - especially if the person bowing to you is older or senior to you. This may continue an exchange of 3 to 6 bows dependent on the situation, and may look comical to Western observers - but it is cultural protocol, and we will strive to observe the utmost courtesy to honour the lineage of our practice.
- A bow of 5 degrees is a cursory bow to convey a simple greeting or acknowledgement.
- A bow of 15 degrees is used for common salutation.
- A bow of 30 degrees is your respectful bow to communicate your appreciation.
- A bow of 45 degrees is to communicate your deep respect, extreme gratitude or an apology.
- A bow of 90 degrees is reserved for ceremonial occasions such as a visit to the shrine or Buddhist temple.
Note: Any indiscretion may affect your continued membership with JDK. If you cannot comply with any or all of the above, or if any of the above has failed you and is imcompatible with your needs, please speak with your instructor.
The last word on all of this - etiquette guidelines are not here to freeze you up socially, make you a different person, or paralyse you with indecision on how to act. Many of these guidelines are foreign concepts to be reflected on, and which should accompany you along your journey. There may be times to dispense with such etiquette guidelines, and there may be times when such etiquette may even save your life. It is ironic but JDK instructors are some of the most casual and approachable people you will ever meet - don't let this list put you off. Learn their lessons and rise above them.
Beginners should also read the following:
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