Etiquette in Soo Bahk Do Pt. 5 “Communication etiquette”

Etiquette in Soo Bahk Do Pt. 5

“Communication etiquette “

By Steven Lemner

Communication in martial arts takes on many forms. From instructor to student, student to student, instructor to parent as some examples. The formats of communication from a letter, email, phone call to messages all have an etiquette to them. The reflect our professionalism, awareness and respect.

In this article I will share my personal insights to maybe help others to understand these important areas.

As instructor we spend a great deal of time teaching technical skills, but these etiquette's should also be shared to help students feel more comfortable and confident in the situations,

First is the “approach” to a conversation with a instructor/senior member. The junior member should first wait to be recognized by the senior. Then approach and bow giving an action of respect. The senior should return the bow, showing mural respect. The junior staying at attention position asks their question. When the conversation is finished, a closing bow by the junior and a thank you is given. The senior should also return the bow. These actions help to connect both to the “Moo” ( martial) side of the art in decorum.

Titles should be used to show respect of what the individual has accomplished. Sa Bom, Kyo-Sa, Jo-Kyo are terms for levels on instructors. The word “Nim” when added to the end of the title adds to the understanding of seniority. As an example: Sa Bom Nim, Kyo-Sa Nim, Jo-Kyo Nim. These are used when two things accrue . One rank status and second age. Respect for life is really the foremost important thing. Note: it is acceptable to use Sir/ Ma’am also. For letter format the title should be used as it is more formal. In conversation Sir/Ma’am can be used.


Phone communication has its own etiquette's. Years ago, before caller ID, I received a call. “Hello, this is Steve Lemner, Hello Sa Bom Lemner, this is Mr. Hwang. I Immediately stood up, force of habit! Hello Kwan Jang Nim! He had called to request something of me, however, due to my work schedule I was not able to fulfill his request.

After the conversation, I thought, about the conversation. First he did not use his title. Second he used my title without the word “Nim” attached. This demonstrated to me two things. First was the action of humility, and second respect. This simple action spoke volumes.


I have met other seniors who introduced themselves as Grandmaster, or Master so in so. They seemed to want to impart their status and rank first hand. It just seemed to me to be a strange beginning.

We should try to use the Individuals title would speak into them. This is like speaking to a teacher, physician, or clergy member. If someone does not hold a title, it would be proper in class or life to address them in the proper way. Titles when speaking to adults as an example we should use: Mr., Mrs., Miss., now it is appropriate to use sir/ Ma’am also in conversations.

As I teach my children students, good etiquette is like phone call.

We say hello (the greeting), this is “John Jones” ( the introduction), have the conversation, and end with a good finish. Goodbye, have a good day. This leaves the caller with a feeling that they were heard, It shows respect.

With all the different forms of communication we have today, and used so very frequently, we should be aware of how we communicate.


In writing in whatever format, good etiquette demonstrates our awareness to detail, respect and importance of the communication.

As example for a written Communication:

“Dear Kwan Jang Nim Hwang,

I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to attend your clinic.

Sincerely,

Steven Lemner “

First we should address who we are writing to with the proper title. Second, we should not use our title ( with the exception of a business format which might have that title following our name. As an example, sincerely, Steven Lemner, Lemners Soo Bahk Do

Leaving out our titles shows our humility to our senior.

For the senior writing to the junior:

“Dear Lemner Sa Bom,

Thank you, I enjoyed sharing the art with you.

Sincerely,

H.C. Hwang”

These simple actions demonstrate our personal level of understanding and awareness to the Shim Gung of the art, as in this case Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan.


When we take time to think, and follow the guidelines of etiquette, we are able to bring our Moo Do Ja Seh to greater levels because we are always present moment in our thoughts and actions.

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