The word “etiquette” is one that is commonly mispronounced by many people (myself included. Perhaps it's due to our Singaporean accent?) The right pronunciation is actually "air-ti-kat" not "air-ti-kurt". Oxford dictionary defines etiquette as “The customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group” The word etiquette derives from the French language and its meaning is “list of ceremonial observances of a court”. Martial Arts being a sport that instils discipline and respect to your coach, opponent and sparring partner, naturally has a set of common etiquette to follow! In todays blog post, we will be looking at and discussing some of the common martial arts etiquette that you may or may not know.
First up, hygiene. A common phrase goes like this, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away”. While that is true and accurate to a certain extent, it takes more than that to keep the doctor (and virus) away. Especially during this period, hygiene is even more so important. Good hygiene practices include, for example not drying your sweaty gloves using the fan as that would circulate your sweat through droplets around the gym. In fact, current evidence suggests that one could be infected with the Coronavirus when water droplets or aerosols containing the virus come into contact with someone’s eyes, nose and mouth so we definitely do not want to risk our own and other’s safety by doing that. Good hygiene practices also includes not touching any surface with your sweaty hands and if you really must, to wipe away your sweat after that. I’m sure none of us wishes to be out of action for 2 weeks so lets do our part to keep the gym clean and hygienic.
Respect for instructors
Respect for your instructors regardless of your skill and experience level goes a long way in martial arts especially Muay Thai. Respecting your instructors includes listening to their instructions and doing what they ask you to do during the lesson. Respect for the instructors could also come in the form of not talking when the instructor is talking. Not listening and being distracted while the instructor is explaining the technique could result in you throwing the wrong combination or punches which may injure your training partner. Even if the discussed technique is one that you are familiar with, any good student of any martial art knows there are always little details you might have missed the first time the technique was explained to you. There is therefore no such thing as having mastered a technique to the point you can’t improve it.
Respect and humility for students
Let's face it. No one likes a know-it-all. No one likes someone who acts high and mighty and is not willing to be humble and learn from everyone. In fact, being disrespectful to your instructors or training partner could be one quick way to see yourself getting kicked out of the gym. Respect and humility for students also include not throwing hard and powerful shots at your training partner where the instructor specifically instructs everyone to go light. After all, most drills are supposed to go slow and soft with the emphasis placed on the technique and form where both partners refine their form and not a slugfest of who can hit the hardest. There is always a time and place for everything and sparring can be a good time for a Muay Thai practitioner to train their speed and power. On that note, The Jungle offers sparring sessions every week to provide members with a platform to test what they have learned in the lessons in the ring so don’t miss it!
Tidying up after yourself
One common phrase goes as such “ Treat others like how you wish to be treated” and this could not be further from the truth. As such we should also treat the gym as how we want others to treat our house. So if we do not wish for others to mess up our place, we should not mess up other people’s place as well. That includes putting back any equipment (Pads, weights) to their original place and being good stewards of the equipment provided to us. Tidying up after ourselves includes not only putting equipment back at its original location but ensuring that we return the equipment in the condition we got it from initially. That goes to say that we ought to wipe off any sweat (read above about how sweat is a transmitter of the Coronavirus) after using the equipment before returning to the original location. Putting equipment back into place also ensures that they do not become a tripping hazard and endangers the safety of the other members.
Muay Thai, being a sport of sacrifice trains and instills our sense of discipline through various aspects with the most notable one being to not give up or compromise on the power of our punches and kicks even when we are tired. However, Muay Thai also trains our sense of punctuality and being on time or early goes deeper than simply showing respect to the instructors but rather it works on our ability to sacrifice doing certain things if that would result in us being late for classes. Punctuality or being punctual improves our time management skills and allows us to plan and prioritize our time ahead in advance. Moreover, punctuality is important as the most important part of any lesson, the warmup happens at the start of the lesson and being late means you would have to miss out on some part of the lessons to do your warmup or worse, skip warmup entirely to join the lesson which is never ideal.
Yes, we know. We see the irony. Earlier we talked about not talking during classes and here we are saying one of the etiquettes is greeting? But hold on a minute, hear us out. We think that there is always a time and place for everything and when the lesson begins, we are supposed to be focused and not make small talk but we can always catch up with one another before class, in between breaks and after class. After all, these are the people who we will be training with and at times sparring with. In fact, many of the friendships you see in the gym today all start off with simple greetings before evolving to sharing tips and eventually sparring with one another. Greeting and thanking our partner and coaches for the lesson also helps to express our gratitude for them for enabling us to improve. In fact, every fighter (from the world-class to the amateur) has a group of training partners and coaches that they are thankful for.
In conclusion, despite Muay Thai being very often an individual sport, we are not alone in our preparation and the area we are in and we need to follow some common etiquettes. When we choose to join a gym to train and compete, we need to treat it as our second home, whether that is tidying up the area or being as welcoming as possible to every member. I’m sure everyone could appreciate a friendlier and cleaner gym. So do your part!