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5 Unspoken Rules for New Martial Artists

As a new student, sometimes you have to learn the hard way, but the five rules below are universal for most dojos or training academies.

1. Show Respect.
This seems like a no brainer, but sometimes students have no idea of the traditions or procedures of a gym. Make sure that you ask your instructor if there are any specific details you need to know about when you start training at a new academy, but the following examples are usually consistent in any martial arts school and will help you make sure that you are not showing any disrespect to your instructor or training facility. Show up for class on time (or a bit early), wear the proper uniform or workout attire, bow when you step onto the mat and before you step off of the mat, address your instructor with the proper title (sensei, professor, kru, sir, ma’am, etc), don’t speak or distract others when your instructor is showing techniques, and avoid swearing or other rude behavior while in the academy.

2. Have proper hygeine.
Nobody likes to train with a dirty partner. Sweat is part of a good workout and is unavoidable when grappling or practicing clinch fighting. But having dirt on you or smelling like moldy socks left in your trunk is not okay. Wash your uniform after every class and make sure that you are clean and smelling fresh before you step onto the mat. Another important detail is keeping germs and contaminants off of your training partners. If you have a skin infection, you should avoid training until it is not communicable or completely gone. Also, make sure that you do not use the bathroom barefoot, then step back onto the training mat. If your gym does not allow shoes on the mat, make sure that you take them off when you get onto the mat and put them back on before using the restroom or walking outside.

3. No one likes a bully.
You should definitely push your training partners to be the best they can be, but understand their abilities and limitations. If you outweigh your training partner by 60 pounds, you shouldn’t need to use 100% of your weight and strength against them. Remember that there is always someone bigger and stronger than you. Use your time training with smaller opponents to refine your technique using as little strength as possible. If you are grappling, it is usually a good idea to put yourself in bad situations against a smaller/weaker opponent and work on your escapes so you will be ready if you face someone who is strong enough to put you on the bottom. If your class is mixed with men, women, teens, and children, please train to the level of your opponent if they are weaker or younger than you.

4. Don’t assume you are ready for a promotion.
If your instructor has experience teaching and has promoted other students, it is safe to say they know what criteria they use to promote students to the next belt or rank. Sometimes, your instructor will even give you an exact syllabus of what is required. Even if that is the case, do not tell your instructor that you are ready to be promoted. This is very disrespectful and is irritating to hear as an instructor. If earning rank is important with you, you may want to ask your instructor what steps you should take to earn new rank. If they say that you are progressing nicely or give you a list of items to work on, continue training and be patient and confident that your instructor knows what is best for you in your martial arts journey.

5. Don’t challenge higher ranking students or instructors.
This rule depends on the context. You definitely should try to work with more advanced students whenever you get a chance as they can teach you nuances and techniques that they have learned from experience over the months or years they have trained. With that being said making a verbal challenge or calling out your instructor while on the mat can be seen as an insult and will likely end in you being humbled in front of the class. If you d work with a higher ranking student and tap them out or catch them with a certain striking combination or throw, don’t boast about it or shout about how you finally beat them. Smile on the inside and be ready for them to up their game since you have shown yourself to be a challenge.

There are plenty of other rules or traditions that your training facility may have in addition to the ones above, but keep in mind that the best students are willing to learn and respectful towards fellow students and instructors.

We hope you have a chance to come train with us some day in Beaufort SC. If you are interested in any of our classes, stop in for a free trial or contact us with any questions you may have. To add your thoughts to this article, feel free to comment below.

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