In ancient times, the place of training (Dojang) was often a religious building. As a result the building itself held a special significance in the life of the martial arts student. The spiritual significance of both the Dojang and the act of training fathered a culture and etiquette of it’s own.
Bowing when entering or leaving the Dojang
This is done to show respect. The student bows on entry and exit while facing the center of the Dojang. When the national and club flags are displayed, the student should bow facing those flags.
Bowing when greeting others in the Dojang
Whether it be on entry or exit or when greeting a fellow student, the act of bowing is a sign of respect. The junior student should bow first when greeting any senior. The senior student or instructor returns the greeting by bowing back. If greeting a group of senior students, bowing should be directed at the center of the group.
Bowing to senior students shows respect for the training undertaken to reach their position. Ancient training routines were often extremely rigorous. One’s seniority became an indication of great dedication and resilience – qualities the new student hopes to mirror. In addition, senior students often help teach those of lesser skill. Over time, the respect for the position held by the seniors has been etched into the etiquette of the Dojang.
Posture and Stance
In the Dojang, it is considered disrespectful to stand with arms crossed or to have one’s hands resting on the hips. One’s body language should convey respect for the Instructor and an eagerness to learn. Crossed arms or a disinterested manner can be insulting and confrontational. In more traditional times, standing in such a way was used to show contempt for the instructor. An act of this type usually meant the student had rejected the teaching and felt superior to the instructor.
Manners and Etiquette
Like any formal teaching environment, one should always be polite and show restraint. Poor manners within a class is not tolerated. Attendance is assumed to be a sign of one’s desire to experience Hwa Rang Do. As a result, all present are expected to behave accordingly. Students should also note that all those attending class should be wearing a uniform or appropriate clothing approved by the instructor.
Participation and Enthusiasm
Students will often encounter actions and activities which are new and physically challenging. In the Dojang, the most that is expected of a student is to try. If a task is too difficult or causes pain, then it is reasonable to not continue with the particular motion. If a problem with an activity arises, it is expected that the student will raise this with the instructor in an appropriate manner without disrupting the class – the instructor is there to guide and assist you. Students should always try their best. Don’t be drawn to perform outside yourself, but always consider extending your range.
If a question arises regarding the techniques or tasks you are asked to participate in, choose an appropriate time to ask for an explanation. Remember that Hwa Rang Do instructors are there because they wish to pass their knowledge onto you, the students.