Simple protocol and Etiquette
Recently, I have observed that there are many people practicing martial arts, but many do not follow any form of protocol or etiquette.
People are talking during class while others are practicing, or they are sitting on the mat floor in a lazy way.
Sometimes, people are late to class.
Sometimes, people leave the class to check their phone or drink some water.
Someone might respond that people come to martial arts to relax, and they should be free to do whatever they want, and protocol or etiquette is irrelevant.
And I would like to respond that I completely agree that people come to martial arts to relax and reduce their daily stress however developing a sense of mindfulness helps the student to forget about their daily routine and it keeps them safe when they are in a dojo.
In a traditional martial art, such as Aikido, being on time means being 30 minutes early to get ready and warm up before class. The Taiso or warm up exercises, the first 10 minutes of the class, are a routine to prepare the students for what comes next.
It is understood that sometimes there are exceptions, and a student might be late.
If a student is late, he should discreetly hurry to the changing room and put his uniform on, and then quietly wait in seiza (sitting position) for the instructor to authorize him to enter the training session.
Drinking water during class:
When a student is at the beginning of martial arts training, I think the instructor should let the student take a break if he feels fatigued and allow him to drink a small amount of water. Students should do so discreetly and face the opposite direction of the mat.
Safety should always be first!
As the student progresses then he should learn how to hydrate before class and be able to participate in the class without taking a break.
Students should ask the instructor to leave the class and then they should wait in seiza until permission is granted to resume the class.
Recently, I was training in Japan and it was extremely hot and humid. Everyone was perspiring a lot so after 45 minutes, the instructor gave us a 5 min break to hydrate.
Drinking too much water during training can be dangerous and it can cause a life-threatening condition called: hyponatremia (a lack of sodium in the blood)
Please see link for more information: Hyponatremia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org).
Talking and sprawling on the mat:
Talking during class is very rude and disrespectful to other students and the instructor. There is a time to be attentive, to learn and there is a time to talk. A dojo is not a place for a social gathering like a coffee shop or a restaurant, it is a place to train and focus for one hour on the training. Afterwards, students are welcome to get together and interact off the mat.
In traditional martial arts, students need to sit in seiza in a safe area while waiting for their turn during the practice.
A simple protocol or etiquette keeps students organized and safe on the mat. The instructor should always know when someone needs to leave the mat because someone might be sick and he or she might need medical attention. If students are sitting and spreading their legs on the mat, someone might trip over them and get injured. Being on time to class is also part of the training because it shows respect to other students and to the teacher.
A traditional martial art can be very dangerous, so it is important to follow all instructions.