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Class etiquette


There are numerous martial arts organizations with hundreds of instructors teaching in hundreds of schools. Each instructor teaches his or her own interpretation of their martial art and operates his or her school in accordance with his or her own rules of etiquette. The etiquette presented below may or may not be in accordance with that of other dojangs, or national or local organizations.


Training in the martial arts is mental, as well as physical. In addition to self-defense techniques, students learn to build self-control, discipline, and respect for other people. As a part of the training, certain traditions and formal behaviors are observed (protocol). These behaviors do not have any type of religious symbolism, they merely show respect for the oriental cultural roots of the martial arts.

Etiquette is an integral part of school protocol. Etiquette is your actions that express your respect for a thing or another person. Etiquette is a lofty and valued attitude and is a source of harmony and solidarity. To maintain order in a group of students, especially children, there must be strict discipline and enforcement of the rules of etiquette. A moral and modest attitude is important in etiquette. Etiquette "ye" is an essential part of taekwondo training. Ye is an abbreviation of "kyongnye," the bow that signifies respect to another person or thing.

Students must constantly be guided by a deep respect for their martial art, the school, and all members of the school. Good manners, politeness, courteous behavior, and maintenance of formal etiquette are part of training. Students must know school protocol and etiquette and always observe it.

Student-instructor relationship

Confucian values form the base for the martial arts student-instructor relationship. These values teach that children must remain obedient and loyal to their parents throughout their lives. Likewise, students are to always obey and respect the instructor. In return, the instructor teaches students to perform the martial art properly, helps them become physically and morally strong, and helps them build good character. A dedicated and sincere instructor is an absolute necessity for proper taekwondo training, and the instructor needs equally dedicated and sincere students.

The student-instructor relationship is based on mutual respect. The instructor must always exemplify the highest level of integrity both inside and outside the school. Students must never do anything to dishonor the instructor or the school. A student’s misuse of their martial art or the creation of a bad personal reputation within the community may result in his or her suspension or expulsion from the school.

Student attitude

  • Never tire of learning! Be ready to learn anywhere, anytime; this is the secret of knowledge. Be eager to listen and ask questions. Appreciate the thrill of learning. Respect the skills you are learning, and the efforts it took to bring them to you.
  • Be willing to sacrifice for your martial art and your instructor. 
  • Never be disrespectful to the instructor. Follow the instructor's instructions to the best of your ability. Always be loyal to the instructor and his or her teaching methods. If you disagree with any procedure or technique, discuss it privately with the instructor.
  • Practice what you learn and try to perfect your techniques to the best of your abilities. This includes spending spare time doing conditioning exercises at home.
  • Discard any technique you have learned from another school if your instructor disapproves of it.
  • Always set a good example for lower belts. Remember they will try to emulate senior students. Help other students to learn and succeed, remember that you all share common goals and interests.
  • Remember your conduct inside and outside the school reflects upon your martial art and your instructor. With your martial arts skills comes great responsibility.
  • Behave honorably and always be polite.
  • Try to live by the tenets of your martial art.

Dress and grooming

  • Keep yourself clean and well groomed.
  • Keep fingernails and toenails clean and closely trimmed.
  • Don’t wear watches, rings, earrings, or jewelry of any kind during training, except eyeglasses when necessary. Leave valuables in the secure area provided by the school.
  • Wear a fresh, clean uniform to each class.
  • Wear the proper uniform as specified by the instructor.
  • Tie belt properly with ends of equal length.
  • Help keep the training area, dressing rooms, and restrooms clean.


  • Sparring equipment is usually mandatory for free-sparring. Equipment will usually include mouthpiece and head, foot, hand, elbow, and shin pads. 
  • Bring sparring equipment to every class, promotion, and tournament. Keep equipment clean and sanitary.
  • All sparring must be well controlled and supervised.
  • No sparring before or after class unless supervised by an instructor.

Class etiquette

  • If you arrive late, sit or stand quietly on the floor at the rear edge of the training area until the instructor grants you permission to enter the mat and join the class. Protocol may require you to ask the instructor for permission to join the class.
  • Request permission from the instructor if you must leave the training area for any reason before class ends.
  • Always respond with sir or ma’am.
  • Bow when greeting seniors.
  • Bow when exchanging training equipment with training partners. 
  • Show enthusiasm, spirit, and good sportsmanship always.
  • Display a respectful, humble, and receptive attitude toward your martial art and your instructor.
  • When told to sit on the mat, sit in the formal kneeling position or, if told, sit cross-legged. Do not lie on the mat, lean on the walls, or sit with legs outstretched.
  • No unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • No extraneous conversation once the class begins. NEVER talk in class unless the instructor talks to you and NEVER fool around with others during class.
  • A humble student can learn quicker. Do not be a show-off.
  • If you need assistance, seek the help of your seniors.

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