Etiquette in Soo Bahk Do Pt. 7 “Personal etiquette “


By Steven Lemner


As martial artists we strive through hard work, determination, and sacrifice to develop our character. Faced with many challenges of both mind, body and spirit we learn to control our personal environment.


How we are perceived by others through our actions demonstrates our level of development as a martial artist. Our personal etiquette should also be developed. How we approach others, hold to our word, develop the relationships with our instructors, seniors and fellow students.

Simple personal etiquette's can be performed that demonstrates our understanding of the bigger picture outside ourselves. They demonstrate respect in consistent actions on a daily basis. As in all the previous articles there are common traits we show. Respect, courtesy, awareness, gratitude, kindness and honor which are all vital to a martial artist in my opinion.

Our instructor has spent a lifetime devoting their time to hone their skills, understanding of their art form to share with others. They not only teach physical skill to help us protect ourselves, but also the most important side, to develop our character. They wear many “hats”, instructor, mentor, psychologist, friend, marriage counselor, spiritual guide, just to name a few. So it is vital we recognize the importance of a relationship with them.

Our etiquette's show that understanding of that importance.


Some things we should consider are as follows:

If we are not able to attend a class we should out of respect let the instructor know ahead of time. Instructors plan their classes knowing who is in their class and their needs. It helps them track your progress and areas of need.

Being early and on time for class. I personally don’t like being late, so I make sure I am at least twenty minutes ahead of schedule. This allows me to do my personal warm up, and prepare my mind for class or work. There is nothing worse then running late and starting a class or work while your mind is still running.

This is also a good etiquette and respectful towards the other students in class, plus it sets the example.

This trait crosses over to work and school. Therefore it is important in the Dojang and life. If we are running late we should out of courtesy notify the instructor. This demonstrates our understanding of desire to learn.

We should make sure we are prepared for things ahead of time. Have our uniform ready, or what might be needed. This always reminds me of the quote: “ In perpetration there is no fear”. This trait transcends to life on so many levels. I try to make sure in my work as a surgical technician that all is prepared so that the surgeon, surgical team can focus on their role for a smooth surgical case, which in turn creates a safe environment for the patient. It can make a huge difference in the energy of the room and how the surgeon is able to perform.

When preparing for a testing make sure you leave enough time to prepare all paperwork is done correctly and in order. This seems like a small thing, but it speaks volumes to the students understanding of its importance. It shows your pride in your work. This goes the same for preparing your mind and body before a presentation. This has to happen way before if not months or years! . It is through this action we develop our own confidence, because we are then prepared.

Etiquette is also about actions to ourselves, our personal respect.

If you are visiting another instructor or attending a clinic, you should out of respect and courtesy ask your instructor. Just like in the previous article about communication, a chain of command of that information helps to keep everyone informed. The instructor by etiquette, would ask the instructor on your behalf if it is ok that you visit. There could be things that they have planned that you had no knowledge of, or even plans your instructor had. It is the introduction, the first step of etiquette. Remember, good etiquette is not hard, it just has to be thought of before hand. These are actions of respect and courtesy.

I am sure you, the reader might have more examples that you have come across and might now think about the approach a little differently.

I have made many etiquette mistakes over the years and this is one of the reasons I thought it might be helpful to share these insights. I am far from perfect and still have much to learn, but I do know, if the approach is correct, and intention is true, the outcome is always good. Because if in the case of etiquette if we think of others first and how we are taking actions to demonstrate that respect to that which surrounds us good thing accrue.


As martial artists we have a responsibility to maintain the highest level of integrity, and set the standard for future generations.

Good etiquette can help us do that.

I want to thank you for allowing me to share my insights on this topic, and your time in reading the articles.

I wish you well on your path.

Maeu gamsahabnida,

Steven Lemner

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