Attitude & etiquette
Written by Rachel

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Traditionally, many martial arts classes were quite strict. They expected a high-level of discipline and etiquette. Failure to adhere to standards was met with harsh punishment.

Mild expectations

The attitude & etiquette standards in our school are extremely informal relative to your average karate, judo or Chinese martial arts school. Everyone is an adult.
We are mainly interested in common sense, safety, courtesy and respect.


In a tai chi class, the instructor is only concerned with attitudes that lead to the acquisition of the required skills. And the cultivation of a safe training environment.
Personal issues, hang-ups and egotism are unimportant.

Code of conduct

Tai chi practice is potentially dangerous. Students cannot be permitted to act how they see fit. This is why a code of conduct will always exist in a martial arts class.

Play well together

It is easy to get carried away. It is easy to be injured or cause injury. Be friendly. Train safely, politely and with consideration.


You may not think that etiquette matters, but it is important to remember where you are and what you are learning. The instructor is not your mate, your buddy, or one of the lads/girls.
They have trained for decades. Respecting the instructor (and other students) is vital in a martial arts class.


New people often want to tell the instructor all about themselves or share their thoughts, feelings or ideas. This is pointless. You have paid money to learn from an expert.
Time spent chit-chatting would be better spent training. Besides, the instructor has an entire class to manage and you are stopping them from working.

Talking with the teacher

It is fine to talk with your instructor providing:

  1. The teacher wants to talk

  2. The teacher has time to talk

  3. The class has started

  4. The class is not over

  5. It does not interfere with the lesson

  6. It does prevent other students from practicing

  7. You are not monopolising the teacher's attention

  8. Your questions are relevant to the topic at hand


Instructors are at work. They are in class to teach the art. They are responsible for the whole class, not just you. Please keep this in mind at all times.

Show your best side

If you want the teacher to take you seriously as a student, it is important to start off in the right way. Arguing, time wasting and second-guessing the teacher will only bring you adverse attention.

Student, friend or customer?

Many students want to be taken seriously by the instructor yet insist upon acting like 'customers'. They are rude, ungrateful, needy, pushy and vain.
A martial arts instructor is not a personal trainer; treating them like one will never produce a favourable result.

When you come to the dojo, it is a recognition the teacher there has something you want. He will give it to you in his own way. You must accept that. If you do not, you are free to leave. The dojo, however, is never run by consensus.

The sensei is not a therapist. The goal of the dojo is to make healthy people healthier, physically and psychologically and spiritually. It cannot be expected to repair badly damaged human beings. As so if a member exhibits serious personal problems, the sensei's job is to get rid of him, gracefully if possible, forcefully and definitively if necessary.

(Dave Lowry)




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Page created 11 March 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023