Etiquette... How far do you carry training hall practices?

jks9199

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There's a discussion in the Tae Kwon Do area regarding etiquette.

In that thread, I asked the question:
I'm curious...

How far out of the training hall do you carry your TKD specific etiquette? Do you bow to your seniors when you happen to encounter each other on the street or at work? Do you limit the meal etiquette to official dinners and the like, or do you practice it whenever you're eating?

This is coming out snarkier than I intended... but my school and my organization has never locked on rigid etiquette, especially off the training floor. I call my instructor by his first name, and my students address me by my first name. In some circumstances, we'll use formal titles, but it's rare. I've eaten many meals with my teacher, and with the grandmaster, in settings ranging from formal dinners down to sitting around a campfire. No special etiquette, other than trying not to put my foot in my mouth and making sure that they're taken care of. But I've seen and heard of TKD students (especially) who practice and take Korean etiquette practices well outside the training hall. When I see or hear that, I can't help but think of the guy who is so "serious" about his martial arts study that he speaks in fortune cookies and dresses like a Chinese peasant from 100 years ago. View attachment 18323

That thread's focused more on specific etiquette practices in Tae Kwon Do. I want to expand it here... How far do you take etiquette?

Let me start by noting that there are courtesies in the training hall that are essential to being safe, especially around weapons and dangerous people. Some examples are how you pass a blade, gun, or another weapon to another person, bows or other indications that you're ready to begin working with a partner, and so on. Others are simple courtesies, owed to teachers and seniors in the art, or to our training partners. In the training hall, like in life, etiquette and courtesy are the oil to keep interpersonal friction down, after all! But there are also things we may do in the training hall that are brought in as aspects of another culture. Bowing rather than a handshake or military salute, for example, or styles of dress, or styles of address.

Another post in that thread brought up the issue of what a student should do for an instructor. That post mentioned a student driving an hour each way to run a teacher a few minutes to the store. I've heard horrific stories of people bringing someone in for a seminar or to visit a training hall, and that person expecting things as extreme as providing "professional companionship" for the instructor, being expected to cover insane bar tabs, and generally drop one's life to be at the instructor's beck and call during the visit. (Yeah, some of that could be a topic all it's own...)

I'll admit to having gone quite out of my way to help my instructor out, altered plans at the last minute to assist in coordinating a seminar, and spending a lot of my own money along the way in training. In one case, someone bounced a check to me and never made good on it. I'm sure there was no maliciousness and no assumption that it was their due -- it just got lost in the shuffle, and because I was aware of some personal issues they were dealing with, I decided to eat it... Not bragging, just saying, y'know? A lot of that is in the range of what I'd do for a friend, anyway. There's a limit, and I've had to say on a few occasions that I just can't make that happen. Obviously, I'm not going to break the law for someone -- and, honestly, I'd question why that person is held in such esteem if they expected me to do so.

So... where do you draw the line? If your instructor is part-time, teaching at Y or simply working a full time job, would you bow if you came across them on the street? What if your teacher was also a plumber, and you called him to do a job for you? Do you bow to people rather than shake their hands? Where and what lines do you draw on moving training hall etiquette into the day-to-day world?
 

lklawson

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Unless the etiquette of the training hall is of the same culture that you are currently living in, then the etiquette of the training hall stays there. To move foreign customs into an area where they are not a standard part will be confusing, misunderstood, or even unintentionally insulting. In general, it has the same effect as putting foreign objects inside your body: they're usually rejected.

Unless you just want to make a "statement" or deliberately appear different then what would be the point?

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Chris Parker

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Just because it's a fun thing to discuss, I'm going to go through some of the major influences in the etiquette found in Japanese martial arts, particularly the older ones, and then go on to look at what should be carried with you at all times, and what should be contextually applied only.

Much of the etiquette found in Japanese arts comes either directly or indirectly from one source: the Ogasawara Ryu. This Ryu (School) is famous for a range of things, most notably archery (Kyujutsu and Yabusame), but possibly even more for their teachings on the topic of etiquette. This Ryu was adopted first by the Ashikaga Shoguns in the 14th/15th Centuries, but it wasn't until it was adopted as the "official" form of etiquette by the third Tokugawa Shogun (17th Century) that it became a major influence on martial arts. It is from this Ryu that we get the sitting position of seiza (kneeling on both knees, and sitting on your heels)... martial arts prior to the adoption of Ogasawara Ryu don't use it, instead having a range of other seated postures, such as Tate Hiza or Iai Goshi, depending on the art in question. But the Ogasawara Ryu didn't limit itself to just how to sit... it covers everything from how to walk (pace, length of steps, and so on), how to open a sliding door, proper table manners (usage of hashi/chop sticks), how to bow, and so on. The formalization of all these aspects of everyday life was often seen to be taken to an extreme, giving no real room for personal action outside of the prescribed movements, leading to a saying in Japan of "Let us rid ourselves of the Ogasawara Ryu today", meaning to avoid unnecessarily stifling what you're doing for the sake of it, and to avoid being bound by strict formality.

An example of the Ryu in action, showing the precision and formality, is found here:


However, the Ogasawara Ryu themselves believe that that is an unfair stereotype... they are more than willing to forgo formality in favour of more efficient/practical actions, provided the heart of etiquette is maintained. And, according to the Ogasawara Ryu, the heart of etiquette is to discard your own ideas and beliefs (even your own feelings, to a fair degree), in favour of ensuring the comfort and well-being of those around you. In other words, the primary role of etiquette is to look to the needs and desires of others, not to dogmatically follow "proper manners" because it's supposed to be done. If you are taking an unusually long time to express gratitude, making the other person uncomfortable, or late, because you insist on thanking them "the way it's done", you've missed the point.

So how does this relate to the thread topic? Well, etiquette in a martial art school should ideally be the same... do what is needed to in the context, but when outside of that context, don't do things that would make the other person uncomfortable. Stopping and bowing in the street can raise some odd looks... is it really appropriate, if you're not in Japan? But what you should take with you is the "sense" of etiquette... understanding that proper manners and respect don't end at the door of the dojo, even if the outward expression of them changes. The danger is when outward expressions are warped, and applied in a false context (similar to some of the situations JKS mentioned... which, to me, aren't etiquette so much as personal abuse of a position of assumed authority... it actually goes against the idea of etiquette). Interestingly, this phenomena is also not new... when the Ogasawara Ryu was gaining in popularity, a number of "Ogasawara Ryu" schools and teachers turned up, which didn't have any real understanding of what the etiquette really was, and created overly complex and complicated "forms" for etiquette, missing the point entirely.
 
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ballen0351

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In the dojo I follow the normal etiquette rules, I call my teacher Sensei and bow ect all the normal stuff. Out side when we see each other its first names and a hug and pat on the back but my teacher and I are friends outside the dojo as well as teacher /student. Others that are not "friends"(for lack of a better word were all friendly) do sometimes call him Sensei outside the dojo but nobody bows and normally he said to just call him by his first name except for the kids.

The part I find interesting is the differences in etiquette between my Goju and my Judo classes. One big example is in my Goju dojo if you need to adjust your belts or adjust your Gi you turn away from the front and fix yourself then turn back. In my judo class we are tod not to turn our backs to the Sensei that you just fix yourself quickly. Im also not a personal friend with my judo Sensei so if I see him out and about I would call him Sensei but I have never actually seen him outside of the Dojo or Judo Comps.
 

Chris Parker

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The turning away from the Shomen/Shinza (at the front of the room) is a Shinto hallmark... you're avoiding offending the spirits that watch over your practice. With the Judo, I'd assume that that's more to do with a combative mindset... not ever taking your eyes off a potential enemy... much more Koryu than Judo, I'd be interested to know where your Judo instructor got that from. Not that it's bad, just a little unusual for a sporting system.
 

ballen0351

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The turning away from the Shomen/Shinza (at the front of the room) is a Shinto hallmark... you're avoiding offending the spirits that watch over your practice. With the Judo, I'd assume that that's more to do with a combative mindset... not ever taking your eyes off a potential enemy... much more Koryu than Judo, I'd be interested to know where your Judo instructor got that from. Not that it's bad, just a little unusual for a sporting system.

Yeah that's pretty much what he says I've been doing Goju longer then Judo so I am always forgetting where I am sometimes and still turn around at least once a class in judo and he always say never turn your back to anyone in case you must defend yourself. He teaches judo for sport but is always putting a high importance on self defense as well he's always showing us things we can't use in comps but says on the street there is no refs or points.
 
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jks9199

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With regard to titles outside of class...

Why not just call him "Mister" outside of class. I'd feel a little odd if one of my students walked up, and addressed me as "Saya" outside of the training. (OK, I'd feel a little silly in class, too, since we don't use the titles much in class, either.) Can't you still be respectful without falling into a foreign language? I'm sure my teacher has no reason to question my respect, even though I don't address him by any sort of title.
 

ballen0351

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With regard to titles outside of class...

Why not just call him "Mister" outside of class. I'd feel a little odd if one of my students walked up, and addressed me as "Saya" outside of the training. (OK, I'd feel a little silly in class, too, since we don't use the titles much in class, either.) Can't you still be respectful without falling into a foreign language? I'm sure my teacher has no reason to question my respect, even though I don't address him by any sort of title.

I don't know I guess its same as when I see my lieutenant i call him L-T. Or when I see the chief I call him Chief or Sarg for a Sgt. I'd feel strange calling my LT hey Kevin. Same for my teachers. Except my Goju Sensei since like I said we are close friends so out of the dojo I just call him by his name.

I guess its just normal to me so its not a big deal. I don't even think about it. I dont feel silly since I've just always done it.
 
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James Kovacich

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I think if people have problems with the culture or the customs a any particular school, then then are always other places to train.

Sent from my DROID3 using Tapatalk 2
 

Big Don

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We salute each other, shake hands, hug... my sifu? Call him by his name? Never. I don't think of him as JR, I think of him as Sifu...
 

WaterGal

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GM's students, myself included, always call him Master ______, and say "yes sir", in or out of the school. His black belts often do things to help him outside of class if he needs it, but not to the extent that the OP mentioned. Stuff like, for example, when he was moving his school to another location, people came to help him pack up and set up the mats and stuff. But he's a Korean guy, and my experience is that Korean masters tend to be a little more formal than Americans.

At our school, we're a little more casual. Mr WaterGal and I are Master ________ and Ms _________ in the school, and the kids still call us that outside of the school, but we don't expect the adults to do that. Or for either to say "sir" or "ma'am" outside of the school.

As far as things like bowing and all that, no, I wouldn't do that outside of the school. That would be weird.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Reading through the original thread in the TKD section, it seemed to me that most of the examples of etiquette listed were derived from military and/or Confucian cultural ideals, specifically the recognition and reinforcement of positions in a hierarchy. Personally I find these values antithetical to healthy social relationships at best and a slippery slope to abusive/cultish relationships at worst - whether in or out of the dojo.

It's interesting to note that theoretically Confucian ideals include not only obligations of a junior towards a senior, but also obligations of a senior towards a junior. However in the original thread, every one of the etiquette examples listed was concerning the recognition due from a junior towards a senior. I don't think that was an accident. My observation of the real world is that wherever you find these sorts of rigid hierarchies, there is an overwhelming temptation for the higher-ups to focus more on the "respect" due to them from their juniors than on their own obligations towards those further down the totem pole. (I have a number of other objections to this sort of hierarchical worldview, but this is one of the biggies.)
 

Koshiki

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For my primary school, for anything outside of a martial-arts related event, it's a hand-shake and/or a hug. Inside of a martial arts environment it's a bow, followed by a hand-shake and/or hug. We're not exactly formal...
 

Zero

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Outside etiquette:
When I see my sensei in the street I call him such, that's just what I'm used to calling him. When I see my old sensei when back home, I still refer to him as such (he taught me so much, he will always be [the] senesi). I called my old wing chun sifu just that when meeting outside also. I call my doctor, "hey doctor, or doc" also on the street, it's just a title you're used to using. If for whatever reason I had to yell out in the street to get their attention I would say "hey Mike!", not "yo, hold up Sensei!" They may not want the title to be made public to that degree.

We never hug, we are men, expressions of affection to that degree, that's not seemly, not even gentleman(ly). Well, if we do hug, it's the approved Top-Gun hug, never hug another bro with anything but closed fists, never palms on the back.

Going the extra mile (becoming a doormat):
I make a habit of helping tidy up after training and if you have an event at your club, then sure help out of doors time to set up, etc. But unless a sensei, sifu, master (really?, yuk, what a douche title unless you're a character out of Dr Who) was also a personal friend or I owed them a favour in return I would not expend my hard earned dollars or private time for them or put myself out for them - not to any real extent, please! They are just fellow humans, some of which we pay for training/lessons in something - which happens to be MA.
Do you go around to your piano teacher's place, instead of spending time with the familiy in the weekend, and wash their car etc? Do you drive your boss (the guy writing you cheques) around on late night/long-distance errands out of hours?
C'mon get with it.
 

lklawson

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Outside etiquette:
When I see my sensei in the street I call him such, that's just what I'm used to calling him. When I see my old sensei when back home, I still refer to him as such (he taught me so much, he will always be [the] senesi). I called my old wing chun sifu just that when meeting outside also. I call my doctor, "hey doctor, or doc" also on the street, it's just a title you're used to using. If for whatever reason I had to yell out in the street to get their attention I would say "hey Mike!", not "yo, hold up Sensei!" They may not want the title to be made public to that degree.
Maybe they want to keep the martial arts title on the QT as a tactical advantage.

http://www.alliancemartialarts.com/concealedtreasure.htm


We never hug, we are men, expressions of affection to that degree, that's not seemly, not even gentleman(ly). Well, if we do hug, it's the approved Top-Gun hug, never hug another bro with anything but closed fists, never palms on the back.
Like most of the rest of it, this is a cultural thing.


master (really?, yuk, what a douche title unless you're a character out of Dr Who)
Instructors from a western martial art or a martial art who's cultural source has been influenced by western language such as Spanish or Portugese.

It's common in the Fencing tradition for a person who's reached a level of skill and testing to be awarded a certificate naming him Maestro. Spanish - "Master." I'm sure you're familiar with certain Latin and Central/South American martial arts who's top level folks are referred to as Maitre and Mestre. French and Portugese - "Master."

I know a number of these folks. They're not from a SciFi plotline, Dr. Who or otherwise (he's dead, in story line now anyway, right?) and they're certainly not "douches."

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Cirdan

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Dojo etiquette stays in the Dojo where it belongs. Calling someone sensei in the street would be ridicolous, even insulting.
 

Zero

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Maybe they want to keep the martial arts title on the QT as a tactical advantage.

http://www.alliancemartialarts.com/concealedtreasure.htm


Like most of the rest of it, this is a cultural thing.


Instructors from a western martial art or a martial art who's cultural source has been influenced by western language such as Spanish or Portugese.

It's common in the Fencing tradition for a person who's reached a level of skill and testing to be awarded a certificate naming him Maestro. Spanish - "Master." I'm sure you're familiar with certain Latin and Central/South American martial arts who's top level folks are referred to as Maitre and Mestre. French and Portugese - "Master."

I know a number of these folks. They're not from a SciFi plotline, Dr. Who or otherwise (he's dead, in story line now anyway, right?) and they're certainly not "douches."

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
hey, never said they/anyone were personally douches! Just the title itself.

But you're right, I was hardly being fair. It just seems an odd title to me. A pianist can be a world class master at the keys but if he is your teacher you won't refer to him as "master". Maybe it does not mean they are "your master", just a "master" in that style - or maybe, it is actually meant to imply they are your master?? Which seems a bit extreme, particularly in the age we live in. If you are paying some guy to learn a skill, why the master thing? Seems odd to me. If you are lucky to be learning for free, seems almost equally as odd still.
Yes, thanks, with you on the titles used in other cultures/geographics. I fenced for a few years and never heard anyone actually refered to as "master" though in training.

Oh, and I was kidding about with the whole hugging thing, sorry if that was not obvious. I have enough European mates to be used to it, oh and the European broads go in for a kiss on both sides of the face too whenever you meet, that double kiss sure caught me the first time but must admit is only a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

Dr Who dead, no way! There's always another regeneration.
 

Koshiki

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Dojo etiquette stays in the Dojo where it belongs. Calling someone sensei in the street would be ridicolous, even insulting.

Wait, you mean "Shihan" isn't his first name? For many I think it depends a bit on WHEN you met the person. Much like your fourth grade teacher will always be MRS. Grey, whereas you're college professor may very well be just "Rick"...
 

Koshiki

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It just seems an odd title to me. A pianist can be a world class master at the keys but if he is your teacher you won't refer to him as "master". Maybe it does not mean they are "your master", just a "master" in that style - or maybe, it is actually meant to imply they are your master??

Actually, "maestro" is not an uncommon title for renowned musicians in the stuffier classical fields, it seems. I've been to the occasional seminar/lecture where the speaker/teacher was referred to as "Maestro." Strike me as odd there, too. I've also seen some seminars where the guy's wearing a t-shirt and leaning on the piano, chatting more than giving a speech.
 

Zero

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Actually, "maestro" is not an uncommon title for renowned musicians in the stuffier classical fields, it seems. I've been to the occasional seminar/lecture where the speaker/teacher was referred to as "Maestro." Strike me as odd there, too. I've also seen some seminars where the guy's wearing a t-shirt and leaning on the piano, chatting more than giving a speech.
Interesting, thanks. Maybe the title Master is simply then meant to imply the mastery of one's skill set, rather than actual mastership over their students or those with lesser skills in that field?
 
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