Respect and Obedience

Taking a little bit of a different tack this month. This article pertains to both adults and child students, but since many of our adults also have children training, I figured it still fits the series.

Anyone who takes martial arts belongs to a small family that is usually part of a larger family, and all of us are part of the larger martial arts community around the world.

Every style has its own rules, it’s own protocol, but there is at least one thing all martial arts have in common. They are hierarchial. For example, in TSDMA, orange belts outrank white belts, green belts outrank orange belts, red belts outrank green belts, cho dan bos outrank red belts and black belts outrank cho dan bos. There is subranking within each color also.

That’s a lot of hierarchy! And it’s a hierarchy that is known before someone signs up to take classes. It is hung on our walls, it is shown in the way we bow into class. And it needs to be shown by students to higher ranked students if they ever expect to attain that rank, or to attain black belt.

When someone decides to  take martial arts, they are agreeing to this hierarchy. They are agreeing that they will respect and obey those who outrank them.

This includes when students are members of the same family. We have children who outrank parents and the reverse, and siblings at different ranks. This may include someone you consider to be of lesser ability than you but who outranks you.

This does not mean you have to agree with every command, and it does not give higher ranks permission to abuse their rank and punish someone just because they outrank them. If you have a problem with a higher ranked student, come to me and we can discuss it. But first, do what the higher ranked student asks of you.

For example, an instructor may tell a green belt to work with lower ranks. The green belt may want to work on higher level things, but if a black belt says s/he needs to work with white belts, the green belt should take it as an opportunity to work on basics. Everyone needs basics.

If you are told to wear plain or school t-shirts to class and you repeatedly show up in stripes, you are disrespecting the rules of our school. Everyone forgets occasionally. I am talking about repetitive behavior.

More slack is given to beginners and younger students in this area, but the adults and higher ranked children are expected to be the examples in our school.

Martial arts students say yes sir,  no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am. They do as they are told with courtesy and respect. You have time to learn, but you must desire to learn this.

If this is not what you signed on for, then perhaps martial arts is not for you. Losing a student is one of the worst feelings I have as a studio owner, but I would rather lose a student than have one who does not desire to respect our ranking system.