Etiquette in Martial Arts: A Guide for New Students

One of the most beautiful aspects of martial arts is that it's not just about physical prowess or mastering techniques. It's also about character development, discipline, and respect. This is where the importance of etiquette comes in.

Etiquette in martial arts is a set of unwritten rules or codes of conduct that govern behavior within the dojo (training hall). Following these guidelines not only shows respect to your instructors and fellow students but also reflects your understanding of martial arts' deeper values.

Why is Etiquette Important in Martial Arts?

Etiquette forms the very foundation of martial arts training, serving as a guiding principle for practitioners. By adhering to proper etiquette, we create a harmonious and safe environment that facilitates effective learning and personal development. Moreover, it instills discipline, focus, and respect, which are indispensable qualities for any martial artist. These values extend beyond the confines of the dojo, permeating into daily life, promoting respect, humility, and patience in all real-world interactions. Embracing etiquette is a holistic approach to martial arts that enriches both the practitioner and their community.

The Do's and Don'ts in a Martial Arts Studio

As a new student embarking on your martial arts journey, it's completely normal to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of new techniques to learn and the challenge of remembering all the names. However, it's equally important to recognize the significance of understanding and adhering to the dojo etiquette. By familiarizing yourself with the customs and protocols, you not only show respect for the art but also contribute to creating a harmonious training environment for everyone involved. Here are some essential do's and don'ts to keep in mind as you immerse yourself in the world of martial arts:


  1. Bow: Bowing is a traditional way of showing respect in many martial arts disciplines. You should bow when entering or leaving the dojo, at the start and end of class, and when partnering up for drills or sparring.

  2. Respect higher ranks: Higher-ranked students have put in the time and effort to earn their status. Show them respect by addressing them properly, listening attentively when they give advice, and allowing them to lead in paired exercises.

  3. Handle equipment properly: Treat all training equipment with care. Not only can misuse lead to damage, but it can also cause injuries.


  1. Don’t interrupt a class in progress: If you arrive late, wait quietly at the entrance until the instructor invites you to join.

  2. Don’t forget personal hygiene: Martial arts often involve close contact with others. Ensure you wear clean uniforms and maintain personal hygiene.

  3. Don’t neglect the dojo: Treat the dojo as a second home. Help keep it clean and organized.

Specific Etiquette Rules

While the above guidelines are common across most martial arts, each style might have specific rules. For instance, in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it's customary to avoid asking a higher-ranked student for a spar. In contrast, in Kendo, students must not step over or on Shinai (bamboo sword).

As a new student, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with these specific etiquette rules. If in doubt, don't hesitate to ask your instructor or fellow students. Remember, the goal is to create a respectful and conducive learning environment.

Starting your martial arts journey is exciting, but remember that this journey encompasses more than learning kicks and punches. It's about developing discipline, respect, and humility—values that are reflected in the dojo's etiquette. So, embrace these codes of conduct, and you'll find your martial arts experience even more rewarding.

Train hard, respect all, and remember, the journey is as important as the destination.

Happy training!

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