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Word to the Wise

“Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.”
- Catherine Pulsifer


Etiquette

A high degree of etiquette should be observed by students, both inside and outside the dojang. This should be applied by lower ranking students to senior students while training, by higher ranking students to elder students outside the dojang, and by all students when visiting another dojang. In all cases, emphasis should be placed on correct and proper salutation. It is a form of respect and courtesy in Western as well as Oriental societies. - General Choi Hong Hi, Founder of Taekwon-Do

 

A word about Etiquette
Respect is the currency of Taekwon-Do; it is exchanged for knowledge and attention and loyalty. It flows in both directions in the student-instructor realtionship, between senior and junior and among any students who have something to give one another.

Etiquette is the primary outward manifestation of respect. It is for the student's education, to become cultured and learn manners. If Taekwon-Do is to make better people, it does well to start by inspiring respect for one another. Good etiquette encourages genuine respect to follow. It is also one of the only quantifiable and enforceable aspects of respect.

Etiquette should be maintained at all times, both inside and outside the dojang.

Etiquette is a medium, a catalyst for communication. It is like a good uniform, it allows the art to be pracitced without hindrance.

Basic rules of etiquette in the dojang

Shaking Hands
A Taekwon-Do handshake is always given with two hands. With the right hand extended, place the left hand palm down under the right elbow. This is a gesture of respect and should be used at all times, even outside the dojang, when giving or receiving items, as well as when shaking hands.

Speaking to Seniors
"Sir" or "Ma'am" should be used at all times when addressing a senior. Although it may sometimes be redundant to use "Sir" or "Ma'am" in every sentence, all "Yes" and "No" answers should also contain "Sir" or "Ma'am". Avoid using "yeah" or "OK". Seniors must always be addressed by using Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, or Master, as appropriate, with the senior's last name. If the last name is not known, use "Sir" or "Ma'am".
Sometimes it is aceptable for the instructor to call a junior by his or her first name. The junior should not be insulted, as it is not a sign of disrespect.

Uniform Etiquette
Click here, to go to the 'Uniforms' page.

Belt Etiquette
Click here to go to the 'Belts' page.

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Asking Questions
If you have a question, please raise your hand. When the instructor calls on you, come to attention, bow, address the instructor, and ask the question using "Sir" or "Ma'am". Remain at attention while the answer is given. If you wish to demonstrate a technique as part of your question, ask for permission to do so. After the instructor gives you the answer, bow again and say "Thank you Sir" (or Ma'am.) Remain at atttention until given permission to return.
If you are sitting when you wish to speak or answer a question, stand and come to attention and bow before speaking.

Do not "debate" the instructor's answer. You may ask once for clarification, but do not enter into a debate about the instructor's answer. Never try to "instruct" the instructor, even in a question form.

If you are among several students waiting to speak to an instructor, offer your seniors the opportunity to go first.

Spacing and Distancing
Stand at a respectful distance so that you will not intrude should the conversation be private or sensitive in nature.

Class Etiquette
When the senior instructor enters the room, the senior student in the room should call the class to attention, and bow to the instructor. Any time a Master enters, or anyone senior to the senior instructor enters, the same (or greater) recognition should be given to them.
If the senior student is preoccupied, it is acceptable for another student to call the class to attention. Then the senior student will take over.

Bowing
Bowing is a demonstration of respect, it represents a great many principles that must be upheld.
* To fellow student: represents an acknowledgement that the techniques we practice can be lethal if abused and therefore must be wielded with self-cotrol.
* To instructor: an expression of respect and humility, an essential sign of loyalty unhidered by outside influences and personalities.
* To student: Instructor will watch over them and do his or her best in helping to navigate the journey through Taekwon-Do.
* To fellow Instructor: implies mutual respect; they will treat one another with honor in their relationship.
* At threshold of dojang: to make apparent a student's appreciation for practice of Taekwon-Do. This simple gesture recognizes the spiritual boundary that separates the routine of everyday life from the supercharged atmosphere of the dojang, the place where we come to study Taekwon-Do. Each of us must not fail to formally acknowledge the virtues portrayed therein.

A correct Taekwon-Do bow is from the attention stance - heels touch, feet at a 45 degree angle, eyes forward, slightly above the horizon, hands lightly clenched at the sides, and only a fifteen degree bend at the waist is correct.

Your neck should be straight - bend at the waist. Your eyes should be focused lower than the senior's eyes. A bow is only fifteen degrees. When bowing, the junior should wait for the senior to end the bow (straighten up after the senior.)

When in class, line up to the left of your senior, and/or behind him or her. This includes the situation when facing the class or a testing board. When performing Ho Sin Sul, the students line up by rank to face the testing board and bow, before and after the demonstration.

At the beginning and end of class, the first row of students will kneel first, then row by row to the last row, and the instructor kneels last. At the end of meditation, the instructor will always stand up first. The senior Black Belts will then stand, and all others by row. Do not stand before your seniors begin to stand. When you are giving commands, be sure the instructor is down or up all the way before giving the next command to the class.

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Other Class Procedures
There are no exceptions for using "Sir" or "Ma'am." Spouses and other relatives are not given special consideration in class or other Taekwon-Do settings.

Come early to class, warm up, and practice techniques until class starts. It is disrespectful to the instructor to arrive late to class, unless you have received permission from the instructor to do so. (Many students have other responsibilities such as families and jobs that prevent them from ariving on time. Please inform your instructor of such responsibilities, so he or she will not think you are being disrespectful. If you do not have such a commitment, you should always be there early.)

The students that arrive late automatically give the instructor 10 push-ups. When arriving late to class, bow into the dojang, stand at attention, and catch the instructor's eye, perform your push-ups, then stand at the side of the class and wait for the instructor to admit you into class.

When Lined Up in Class
When asked to sit in class, you must kneel, sitting on your feet. If you have a medical problem that prevents you from kneeling, get permission from the instructor to sit in an alternative fashion. With permission from the instructor, you may sit with your legs crossed. Unless you are stretching, kneeling or sitting with your legs crossed are the only acceptable ways to sit on the Taekwon-Do dojang floor.

If you are called forward individually, take one step back and exit out the side of your line the shortest way. Do not cut through the lines. You should run as quickly as possible. When you are within a few feet, stop, bow to the instructor, and stand at attention.

When returning to your place in line after being called forward, bow to the instructor, and walk backward a few steps to the side of the class and resume your place in line without turning your back on the instructor.

When you have been given permission to sit rather than kneel keep the soles of your feet from facing the Instructor or test board. It is considered disrespectful to do so.

If you must leave class, raise your hand and receive permission. Bow to the instructor, step backwards and back up to the closest side of the class.

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General Etiquette
If you see a student or students senior to you performing tasks such as moving chairs, tables, boards, tiles etc. you should quickly go ask them if you can take over their task. Upper dans do not like to see Yellow belts watching Black Belts perform menial tasks.

In the USTF we have the opportunity to receive instruction from several excellent instructors. Because we are all individuals, one instructor may teach something a little differently than another. Do not correct or question the instructor, as that would be a sign of disrespect. Do whatever your current instructor says. If you still have a question after class, respectfully ask your instructor, or the senior instructor if you wish, to explain the difference.

Do not approach your instructor with a statement like, "Did you hear about the new way of doing X?" You will have put them in the position of appearing ignorant or old fashioned regardless of their answer. Your instructor does things as new as you need. Find a different way to ask your question. Make your goal clear: to reconcile your confusion.
Do not begin your question by stating, "Mr. So-and-so told me to do it this way..." because it sounds like a challenge. Begin by saying something like, "I am confused, Sir, about the (technique) you showed me. It seems different from what I have been shown before." Note the difference in tone.
Request permission to train under another instructor. We are welcomed and sometimes invited by countless other USTF instructors to come train with them. It is proper courtesy to receive your instructor's permission before doing so. That way, he or she will have no reason to question your loyalty, or to wonder who your instructor is.

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Always treat a person who once was your senior as if he or she still is, even if you pass them up in rank eventually.

Never request to test. Each instructor will have his or her own procedure for students to follow to determine when they test. If you think your instructor has forgotten about you, the thing to do is to respectfully ask him or her to let you know when you should be getting ready to test, and what specific things you should be working on. Your instructor will then be made aware that you will soon reach your training time, and will be able to consider you for the next testing.

It is proper courtesy to inform your instructor if you cannot attend a class or other Taekwon-Do event, particularly a testing or Black Belt class.

Don't try to teach a technique to someone else unless the instructor asks you to.

It is standard procedure for students to stand when the instructor enters the room, even at an activity outside the gym. When at a restaurant, the students will stand as the senior instructor enters and is seated. If a senior approaches your table, the whole table should stand up, unless there are non-Taekwon-Do people at the table, such as a Grandmother.
If the senior leaves the table or room for the evening (to go home, rather than just to leave the table temporarily) the students should stand to acknowledge the instructor.

When at a social event and during a toast, your glass should always touch a senior's glass at a lower level. In other words, your glass is always lower than the senior's.

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The Student/Instructor relationship is a very valuable, faithful one. Always protect your instructor's dignity, even at your own expense or reputation.

A Taekwon-Do uniform is not street clothing. It is best to remove at least your belt and jacket when leaving the workout area to go home. This is to show respect for Taekwon-Do and an attitude of humility.

Additional Notes on Etiquette

These points of etiquette, procedures and protocol have come through the USTF. Your instructor is the final authority on etiquette and procedures in his or her class. Some instructors may want certain procedures modified. Others may want certain procedures strictly enforced. The important thing is to conduct yourself according to the strictest standards until the senior directs you to behave otherwise.

Remember that the senior Black Belt is a person too, and as such is allowed their personal imperfections without your astonishment or commentary.

In Taekwon-Do situations, react to all orders before the senior Black Belt, e.g. "sit down." In social situations, do not sit down before the senior Black Belt.

If you are introducing the senior Black Belt to someone who is not involed in Taekwon-Do, use "Master", "Ms.", "Mr.", etc. along with their full name, thus giving the senior the opportunity to allow the other the use of their first name. The senior Black Belt may request that you introduce them by their first name (without implicitly giving you permission to address them similarly), or they may interrupt the introdution to give their familiar name.

Do not verbally interrupt the conversation of a senior Black Belt. Instead, stand at attention at at discreet distance, e.g. beyond conversational earshot, until you are acknowledged.

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