Here are some things to be mindful of when working with partners in the dojo:
Personal hygiene - One of the most important rules of etiquette for training with others is maintaining good personal hygiene. This includes regular bathing, using deodorant, keeping nails trimmed and grooming hair so that it doesn’t interfere with training. Students must also keep all uniforms, shorts, shirts and gear clean. This includes bringing changes of clothing, as needed, if doing multiple classes in one day.
Distancing - An important aspect in growth as a martial artist is developing a sense of distancing, or how far away from someone you should be to make a strategy work. In addition, we all need to respect other students’ personal space. When doing a group exercise like laps or line drills each student needs to maintain a distance behind the person in front of them to be safe and respectful. We all just spent months practicing ‘social distancing’ so, this should be easy. Also, remember that it’s not appropriate to ‘play fight’, horseplay, or even touch other students in off moments in the gym.
Control - Working with a partner requires us to stay under control at all times. Its not OK to be careless, reckless or overly aggressive. This is especially important when sparring or ‘rolling.’ Sparring is NOT fighting. It is an opportunity for students to practice the strategies they’ve been working on in real-time for the purpose of LEARNING. Part of sparring should be training yourself to be calm under pressure and to use your resources intelligently.
Respect - To create an environment that is constructive for all every student needs to respect everyone else in the dojo. This means following established rituals like bowing, fist bumps, and using titles for instructors. In addition, students should try to be courteous with their actions, words, tone, and body language.
Talking - Unlike mainstream gyms, martial arts facilities tend to have a friendly and supportive environment where people can socialize and make lasting friendships. During training though, its important for students to also focus and learn as much as possible. So, it’s important to strike a balance between having fun sharing a common interest with others in the dojo and getting the work in. Students should also avoid assuming the role of ’the expert’ and not bombard others with words in an effort to help them. Students must be given a chance to learn a martial art on a physical level once they understand a technique or strategy.
Sticking to the plan - When doing situational drills students need to try to ‘stick to the plan’ and avoid branching off into variations of a strategy, or doing things the way THEY think it should be done. Part of the instructor’s job is to keep everyone on the same page based on their experience. Once students start going off script the entire training environment can break down into a disorganized mess with no team unity. Students who prefer their own way should probably just train at home.
So, optimize and enjoy the opportunity to train with partners again! Following these rules will create an environment where everyone can thrive in their chosen martial art. See you on the mats!