The martial arts are challenging and rewarding. More than just a sport, martial arts is a form of self defense, fitness, opportunity for competition, an outlet of philosophy and artistic expression. As a coach, I respect the reasons a student may have for choosing to study martial arts and try to provide a framework where they can pursue their specific desires.
However, I have rules, regulations, and teaching ideals that remain constant throughout the different martial arts I teach, regardless or gender, age, or experience level of the students. My hope is that these rules and ideas assist all of us live, grow and love the martial arts. The study of martial arts has been one of the most positive forces in my life, and could be a defining element of joy in a student’s life as well.
Safety is priority number one. No goal, however worthy, will be worked on unless it can exist in harmony with this prerogative.
My martial art classes are not a place for rehabilitation, mental or physical. True, martial arts strengthen the body and mind; but there is a base-line of personal well-being that must be maintained in order to maintain safety of the instructor and students. Serious emotional or physical injury need to be taken care of by a competent professional.
We strive to respect others and ourselves. We cannot truly have one without the other.
Our class is an environment of learning.
We leaving our ego at the door. This is not a trite saying– we train in a space of safety and respect, so there is no need to prove anything to anybody. We know ourselves and accept ourselves with our combination of flaws and strengths. We do not compare ourselves to others for the purpose of creating a pecking order.
All those in our classes are teammates and not competitors. We share knowledge, experience, and respect liberally with each other. The stronger our teammates become, the better off we are for it. We accelerate our growth collectively.
When we train hard with each other, it is still in alignment with our views of safety, respect, and ego. When we compete, we do not deviate from our philosophies.
As an teacher, I try to perpetually focus on fundamentals and strive for principle based instruction. As a shining example, I quote martial art instructor Matt Thornton, “The entire curriculum … revolves around the fundamentals of the delivery system. And because of this, each individual athlete is given the freedom needed to develop his/her own style; one that is optimum for their own body, mind and temperament. In a Gym that focuses on fundamentals, as opposed to a technique-by-technique template, each [student uses] very different types of games. And this not only produces better athletes/technicians quickly, it also helps impart and preserve the core Art (delivery system) itself.”
Martial arts is a way of life. Our training is not a compartment our being, it is a fiber that runs throughout. If we are jerks outside of class, we bring that to the mats. Likewise, if we keep our cool, show respect and determination on the mats we will take that everywhere we go and to everyone we meet.
Life is about joy and martial arts reflects that. We train hard, yes, but we laugh, play and relax in the joys of it. Our team is primarily a group of friends with a common interest in martial arts.
Rules, Regulations, and Expectations
Arrive on time to class and notify the teacher if you must leave early.
Wear appropriate training clothing. Sport shorts, athletic pants, or martial arts uniform (gi) are acceptable. Shirts are required. No clothing with metal zippers, rivets or buttons are permitted.
No shoes of any kind are allowed on the mats.
Body piercings and jewelry (including watches, wedding rings, necklaces) of all kinds are to be removed before training begins. They are safety hazards.
Students “going too hard” in training will be reminded to relax first. Next they will be asked stop participating for a time if they cannot or will not control themselves. Repeat offenders will have private talks with the coach to determine if they can continue to train with team members.
Students are expected to communicate with each other about how comfortable they feel about training intensity. Honesty-with-self and lack of ego make this easy – it is never a problem to say to a teammate, “I need to take it light today.”
Cursing and vulgar language is not permitted.
Remarks or gestures of a sexual nature will not be tolerated. I take such offences very seriously– depending on the instance, there may not be opportunity for students to remain training with the team. Our ability to grow as a team is affected when individuals create such discomfort.
Students are expected to clean, take out, and put away the mats as necessary. This is a form of respect for self, team, and our environment.
If students are found instigating fights, inside our outside of class, they will not be allowed to train with the team. True warriors save it for the ring.
If students are sick, they are invited to watch but not participate.
If you have medical conditions that could get others sick – hepatitis, various rashes, warts, etc – the instructor and training partners need to be aware. See below.
Students are NEVER expected to share details of physical illness, disease, injury (emotionally or physically), but are expected to take responsibility for their own well being and sit out when necessary.
If students are uncomfortable for any reason, they are not required to participate in the activity and may sit out.
Students are expected to be clean physically for practice. Proper showering, usage of deodorant/antiperspirant, and oral hygiene are not just social conventions, but standards of safety and respect. Infractions will be brought up in a confidential manner.
Fingernails and toenails are to be trimmed neatly; if they remain sharp, a nail file is to be used to smooth them.
Training clothing is to be washed regularly, immediately after each use if possible. Just because you don’t sweat or they don’t smell does not give you permission to bend this rule. This is a matter of safety, not social convention.
Students are expected to learn and apply the team training philosophies on their own, in addition to the instruction they learn.
Students are expected to ask questions.
Students are expected to inform the instructor if something un-safe is occurring.
Students are expected to support teammates with positive reinforcement, never criticism. If you cannot offer a technical pointer without offense, don’t say it.
Students are expected to have fun.
Assignment for U of U students:
After reading, you are required to write one comment about 50 words long. Use your first name and last initial so I can give you credit. As for the content of your comment, it’s up to you, provided it moves the conversation along. Question, disagree, ask for clarification, add your own thoughts. I’m sure I’ve missed something – illuminate me!
As we’ve talked about before, the “Cool post bro” response is inadequate.
Also, consider other teammate’s comments when you write your own. Feel free to address them and exchange ideas.
UPDATED ASSIGNMENT: I want you to detail your top three training axioms; the three things that you see as goals and fundamental truths for you. Ex: Train to my personal best, Cultivate respect, and Keep things simple.