Martial Arts Etiquette
Reigi - Bows
At the start of the lesson you should start the class by lining up, standing in grade order, when the instructor moves to a kneeling posture you should follow suit.
Sit quietly in seiza and empty your mind of all thoughts (mushin), while concentrating on your breathing. When all are ready the sempi (senior student) will say “Sensei ni rei” (bow to teacher) at the same time you perform a kneeling bow and return to seiza.
Then all students will say together “Onagaishi masu” (please assist us) While at the same time you will perform a kneeling bow and return to seiza.
At end of class Line up standing in grade order, when the instructor moves to a kneeling posture you should follow suit. Sit quietly in seiza, close your eyes and breathe deeply while emptying your mind of all thoughts. When all are ready the sempi (senior student) will say “Sensei ni rei” (bow to teacher) While at the same time you will perform a kneeling bow and return to seiza.
Then all students will say “Domo arigato” (thank you) While at the same time you will perform a kneeling bow and return to seiza.
Kneeling Bow - Za rei
You should start this bow kneeling in Seiza; your hands should be resting on your knees (if male) or thighs (if female).
Take your left hand forward and place it palm down and pointing in to the centre about 6 inches in front of your knee. Now do the same with your right hand while lowering your head towards the mat.
You should lower your head so your face is parallel to the mat that you are able (with your peripheral vision to see all the way around your body.
Tying your belt
Take the belt in both hands, and find its midsection.
Pass it once around the waist, from the front as shown.
Bring it together with the left end over the right end.
Feeding the outer belt end underneath all the wrapped around sections of the belt begins the knot.
It is finished by tying the two free ends right over and through the left as in a “Reef knot”.
The belt should be tied reasonably tightly so that it will not come undone. Overview
The belt or OBI goes around the waist twice and is symbolic of the original Obi that was worn and would be used to carry the Daisho (long sword and short sword) as well as other weapons and utensils.
The long sword would go through both belts and the short sword between the belts, this is to stop the swords tapping against each other and making any noise.
Hand wraps help protect the bones and tendons in your hands when you are training. They also help support your wrist and thumb and protect the knuckles from being grazed/rubbed raw. To help prevent injuries, always wrap your hands before working out.
Proper tightness of hand wraps is important. Wraps should be tight enough to stay firmly in place, but not too tight, or they will hamper circulation. You should be able to form a correct fist, with the knuckles covered by the wrap. Wrapping takes practice. If your hand wraps do not feel right, do them again. It is important that your wrap protects the knuckles, wrist and thumb.
Hand wraps have a top and bottom. Some are clearly marked "This Side Down." The reason is that the Velcro fastener should be face up when finished. If you started with the wrong side down, just give the wrap a twist at the end of wrapping.
Hand wraps can be machine washed and dried, but put them in a sock wash bag to prevent tangling. Let wraps dry after a workout and then roll them before using them again. If you work out several times a week, use a couple of pairs.
For smaller hands, avoid wrapping too many times around the palm, because they will bunch up. You may need to include a couple figure 8's and extra times around the wrist to take up the slack.
There are different ways to wrap hands. Some add extra protection to the knuckles, while others help keep the wraps from moving and loosening. Every fighter has their own individual style of wrapping, depending on where he or she wants the extra support, and what kind of wraps they are using.
Saho - Etiquette
Proper observance of etiquette is as much a part of your training as is learning techniques. In many cases observing proper etiquette requires one to set aside one's pride or comfort. Standards of etiquette may vary from one dojo or organisations, but the following guidelines are nearly universal. Please take matters of etiquette seriously.
1. When entering or leaving the dojo, it is proper to bow in the direction of the kamiza, or the front of the dojo. You should also bow when entering or leaving the mat.
2. No shoes on the mat.
3. Be on time for class. Students should be lined up and seated in seiza approximately 3-5 minutes before the official start of class. If you do happen to arrive late, sit quietly in seiza on the edge of the mat until the instructor grants permission to join practice.
4. Remove watches, rings and other jewellery before practice as they may catch your partner's hair, skin, or clothing and cause injury to oneself or one's partner.
5. Do not bring food, sweets, or drinks onto the mat. It is also considered disrespectful in traditional dojo to bring open food or drink into the dojo.
6. Please keep talking during class to a minimum. What conversation there is should be restricted to one topic – Martial Training. It is particularly impolite to talk while the instructor is addressing the class.
7. If you are having trouble with a technique, do not shout across the room for help. First, try to figure the technique out by watching others. Effective observation is a skill you should strive to develop as well as any other in your training. If you still have trouble, approach the instructor at a convenient moment and ask for help.
8. Keep your training uniform clean, in good shape, and free of offensive odours.
9. During class, if the instructor is assisting a group in your vicinity, it is frequently considered appropriate to suspend your own training so that the instructor has adequate room to demonstrate.
10. If you should have to leave the mat or dojo for any reason during class, approach the instructor and ask permission.
11. Do not lean against the walls or sit with your legs stretched out. (Sit in seiza or fudoza)
12. Please keep your fingernails (and especially one's toenails) clean and cut short.
13. Carry out the directives of the instructor promptly.
14. Do not keep the rest of the class waiting for you!
15. Please pay your membership fees promptly. If, for any reason, you are unable to pay on time, talk with the person in charge of collecting the fees. Sometimes special rates are available for those experiencing financial hardship.
16. Change your clothes only in designated areas (not on the mat!).
17. Remember that you are in class to learn, and not to gratify your ego. An attitude of receptivity and humility is therefore advised.
18. It is considered polite to bow upon receiving assistance from the instructor.
All classes contain an element of fitness training, this serves two purposes:
Firstly, it increases the student’s general fitness and makes it easier to meet the greater physical demands as the student progresses through the belt system. The instructor will generally aim fitness goals at the students in the class who are the fittest, in order to make them work, and to motivate less-fit student. It is important for beginner students to recognise what will be expected from them, and to push themselves to the next level. It is important to remember that each of us is equipped with a self-diagnostic system which tells us how much we can do. If you feel pain or feel extremely out of breath, then STOP or SLOW DOWN. This is especially important if you are beginner.
If the instructor asks for twenty press-ups, but you know you can only manage five, then try for six but no more. Often the instructor will offer a variation for those students who are not yet as fit or as strong, i.e.: press-ups on the knees. However, always remember that if you are trying to get out of working hard by doing less than you are able, then you are only fooling yourself.
Fitness is very important for sparring. It is often the fitter student who wins a sparring bout, even against an opponent who is more technically skilful. Many times the talented, but lazy, student who can perform excellent technique with little effort will neglect their fitness training. Students should never underestimate the importance of the fitness required to spar, and especially to compete.
Secondly fitness training is there to ensure a proper warm-up. Physical activity is stressful to the body and particularly so in the martial arts. It is vital, therefore, to warm up properly before the kickboxing techniques are drilled. If you have arrived late for class and have missed the warm-up, then you must do some exercises yourself before joining with the rest of class.
Each student is expected to show a standard of fitness appropriate for their grade / belt-level, which is necessary to perform the relevant techniques with realism, power, speed, and effectiveness. It is understood that each person has a different personal ability and this is taken into account by the instructors.
Power is generated in a combination of ways listed below:
This is using another part of the body as an opposite force. For example pulling the lead hand back when following a jab with a cross. Body-weight: The subtle act of dropping or shifting the body-weight just prior to impact helps to transfer some of that body-weight to the striking tool.
Every punch should use hip twist using a whiplash effect to use the body’s momentum to transfer energy to the striking tool. To maximise power, the hip twist occurs a split second before the punch is thrown. When combined with the shift in body-weight, this allows you to strike with much more force.
This is harder to grasp. Basically this is the act of concentrating on the technique that you are performing. With proper focus you can “channel” all your efforts into the technique and produce more power. Focus is greatly aided by proper breathing.
When performing a technique, the student should breathe out sharply so that the air is expelled just prior to impact. Some martial arts believe that this is a way of focusing energy and “life force”. A more scientific explanation is that the short, explosive exhalation of breath tenses the abdominal muscles, which increases power to the major muscle groups and prevents impacts from “winding” you.
With enough practice, the student can learn to instinctively combine all the above elements. True power is fluid and almost effortless. Tensing up and trying to hit hard creates the opposite effect, as your muscles work against each other and make your techniques less powerful. Relaxing between each burst of power is more productive. Power is not about physical size, but about the application of the correct technique.
Pad work is a very useful training tool and features heavily in Kickboxing. Students use various types of pads to practice techniques. It is used to generate technique, power and fitness. Skill is achieved by being able to hit a target accurately using the correct form. Also, the balance required to hit a solid object is different from that required to throw a technique in thin air. It also gives the student an indication of the likely effectiveness of their techniques in sparring.
It is important that the pad holder uses reciprocal energy, this means that the pad holder “hits” the blow at the same time that the hitter strikes it. This ensures that the hitter does not hyper-extend their limbs, and the holder gets a sustained workout.
Techniques are often performed using as near to maximum power as possible. This is done to promote “muscle memory”. However, if you are partnered with someone who cannot physically withstand your full power techniques, then you must tone things down and use self-control.
This is where students are required to perform various techniques and combinations in the air. The instructor may use this method to introduce new techniques. The higher the grade of the student, the more complex and physically demanding the techniques will be. If performed correctly, the student will become tired very quickly.
Techniques should be performed in real-speed, with maximum power and focus. Line work is a basic and fundamental part of each grading. Here the examiner can assess each student’s ability to perform basic techniques while retaining correct stances.
This is an opportunity to test your ability and mental prowess against an opponent within the framework of rules and supervision. Protective equipment is mandatory. Black Dragon enjoys an excellent reputation as being a safe place to spar. This is due to the responsible and friendly attitude of the students. Techniques are all to be aimed above the belt (with the exception of leg sweeps and strikes to the thigh), with target areas being to the front and side torso, and the head.
Contact levels vary widely, but the rule on this is simple: Contact is set at the level of the person who wants to spar at the lowest level. This means that students who are not able to handle heavier contact, should be able to spar and perfect their techniques without fear of getting hurt. This rule is strongly enforced at Black Dragon.
There are some people in the dojo who are experienced fighters and are capable of sparring to high contact levels. This is acceptable provided that both parties are aware that they are going to spar hard and they are happy to do so. Beginners might witness what may appear to be an intense or dangerous fight. They should realise that the two fighters involved are actually showing a display of great skill and self-control, their techniques are controlled and there is no malice or ill intent between them.
Beginners are not expected to be able to spar at that level. It must be pointed out that, as a combat sport, the potential for injury does exist. But remember, you are far more likely to get injured playing hurling or rugby, and our school has an excellent safety record.