To familiarize new students with important introductory information concerning their Hapkido training, we have prepared a two-page PDF file. Please read this material in its entirety. The information you have selected (Etiquette) is one of several topics contained in this file. Other topics can be viewed online via the Classes>Orientation menu at left. To download the PDF file, click on the link at the bottom of this page.
Etiquette is the code of conduct and procedure by which you conduct yourself during martial arts training or when entering a training facility (called dojang in Korean). These traditional procedures are common to many martial arts and have been passed down through the centuries. Historically, many forms of etiquette arose for reasons of safety as well as respect. For example, the custom of shaking hands with one hand placed under the other, was done to show that you had no intention of drawing a weapon. The hands were plainly visible and signaled your peaceful intentions.
Bowing, from either a standing or sitting position, is a sign of gratitude and respect found throughout the martial arts world. Westerners often misinterpret this as an act of submission, or see it as part of some deviant totalitarian ideal. This is incorrect. When you bow, it signifies not only respect for your instructors or superiors, but respect for yourself, the art, and “life” in general. It is a symbol of your profound regard and caring for the rights and lives of others. This reflects a basic attitude found throughout East Asian culture. For example, it is usually considered extremely bad form to embarrass or humiliate someone, even if they deserve it. If this happens, the offender is said to “lose face” and must correct the matter through some form of reparation and expression of humility toward the person offended. This form of behavior is quite foreign to many Westerners, for whom personal expression is sometimes placed before the feelings of others. Bowing is normally done at the beginning and ending of practice sessions, sparring, and drills. You should also bow at the entrance to our training hall when entering and leaving, or when addressing an instructor.
Informal Standing Bow
To perform a standing bow, place both heels together with toes angled outward. Place your open hands at your side, fingers together, shoulders pulled back. Bow from the waist. The command to bow in Korean is Kyong‑nye.
Addressing Instructors
An instructor is always addressed as “sir” unless permission has been given to call him or her by name. In Korean, there are different forms of “sir,” depending upon the rank of the person addressed. An instructor is addressed as sa‑bom‑nim, a master as kwan‑jang‑nim. Never interrupt while an instructor is speaking, or another student is asking a question; give your full attention, remaining motionless. When an instructor finishes speaking, it is customary to respond by saying sir, sa‑bom‑nim, or kwan‑jang‑nim to signify your understanding and enthusiasm.
School Etiquette
Every school has its own rules of etiquette. Some are very formal, others are quite relaxed. This is not a reflection of quality, but of choice. To assure that you do not cause any disrespect to your instructors, fellow students, or our school in general, always observe the following guidelines:
•  Always address an instructor as “sir”
•  Always bow when entering or leaving
•  Never wear shoes on the mat
•  Never wear unapproved uniforms
•  Never practice with a dirty uniform
•  Never sit or lie down unless directed
•  Never spar unless directed
•  Keep practicing until told to stop
•  Never modify practice unless directed
•  Always clean the practice area if asked
•  Give instructors your full attention when
    they are speaking, remaining motionless
•  Always show up for class on time and remain
    for the duration of training.
•  If you must arrive late or leave early,
    always notify your instructor ahead of time.
Other orientation topics can be viewed online via the menu at left, or link below.
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