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Etiquette in Soo Bahk Do Pt. 4 “Etiquette in action, Students connecting”

By Steven Lemner

During a class there are some important etiquettes that we perform in relationship to other members during training.

The first is to acknowledge and demonstrate respect in the form of a bow to our partner. In this simple greeting and act there are some several non verbal commitments.

We first acknowledge that we are there to support and help our partner to further grow by giving our absolute best. Second, we recognize that we are both there to grow and that we might make mistakes and are willing to accept those mistakes to help further the progress of growth. In the case of practicing Ho Sin Sool ( self defense), as an example, there are times when we need to verify the effectiveness of our technique by applying pain to our partners joints. We have to demonstrate good power control to see the effectiveness of the technique, but also being aware as to not injure our partner.

This is one of the first times we make physical contact in some cases with them, so proper understanding of power control ( Him Cho Chung) is vital. Our partners are willing by the Acknowledgment of the bow, to withstand a certain level of pain to help us verify the effectiveness of the technique.

We have to understand that without that partners willingness to accept that pain we can not fully understand the techniques effectiveness. At the conclusion of the exercise we perform a bow to our partner as recognition of that willingness to both accept our faults, mistakes,and mutual growth that was given to each other.

This action can be seen also in sparring performance. Many students when first beginning sparring exercises have fears. These are common to all new students. They fear injury to themself and their partner. The bow to recognize this in the beginning of the exercise to create mutual trust with each other, a common respect.

If during the exercise we happen to have loss of control and strike our partner by accident, we should stop, acknowledge our lack of control, bow to them, and make sure they are ok, before continuing.

These demonstrations of good etiquette can create a long lasting effect. We build trust with each other and create a mutual opportunity to further our expertise.

Any time we are working with a partner these actions of etiquette take place to remind us of the importance of our humility. We can not grow in these areas of training without our partners willingness to accept our faults and mistakes.

Ego is something that has to kept under control in these moments.

Watching as example Mixed martial arts competition which has become so popular. Some of the best, in my personal opinion are the competitors that demonstrate this respect during competition. I have seen many times where one competitor might win by a knockout and then pause and bow to their partner in the show respect, and then check to make sure that they are ok. On the other hand there are some that, that after their win boast their victory with no acknowledgement of their fellow competitor.

This is where the understanding of martial etiquette stands out. The awareness of mutual respect.

The Moo Do process of etiquette is really the same though out a class.

  1. Acknowledge on an instructor by the bow first.

  2. Acknowledge of the partner at the beginning and end of the experience.

  3. Then confirmation at the end to the instructor of the lesson.

This process creates an environment in a Dojang of common respect for all. It helps us to understand our awareness that each person in a Dojang is there to grow through their mistakes and creates a place where everyone is the same, some have more experience and are further on the path of understanding, an environment of professionalism and purpose.

We are all students on a common path, to build our character and strengthen our mind, body, spirit and understanding of our arts tradition, history, philosophy, discipline, respect and technique to be passed on to future generations. Our understanding of etiquette helps us to pause and remember these gifts. They help us to be present moment and realize savor the experience.


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