Basic Etiquette Guide

At Tong Il Lo, martial arts training extends beyond technical skills and physical prowess. We embrace a strict yet meaningful code of etiquette, fostering respect, humility, and a deep appreciation for tradition. This guide outlines the core principles that guide our conduct in various settings:


  • Greetings: Entering or leaving the classroom always begins and ends with a respectful bow. This acknowledges the space and those within it.
  • Seniority: When a black belt enters, the senior student ensures all present stand in attention and bow, demonstrating respect for their rank and experience.
  • Open Doors: Seniority extends to everyday actions. Always open doors for your seniors, and readily offer to relieve them if they’re already holding the door.
  • Formality: Address your seniors with “Sir” or “Ma’am,” demonstrating proper decorum.
  • Proactive Service: Don’t wait to be told. If equipment needs putting away or the classroom needs cleaning, immediately volunteer to help. Seeing a senior taking care of tasks? Step forward and offer assistance.
  • Posture: Maintain proper posture throughout class. Avoid hand-on-hips or crossed arms, which can be interpreted as arrogance.

Formal Dinners:

  • Courtesy: As with the classroom, opening doors for seniors extends to social settings. Be attentive to their needs and readily offer assistance.
  • Respectful Order: Allow your seniors to order their food first, and wait for the highest rank at the table to begin eating before you do.
  • Attentiveness: Ensure senior instructors’ and black belts’ glasses are never less than half full. Discreetly signal the waitstaff for refills when needed.
  • Seating: Senior instructors typically take the head of the table, unless circumstances dictate otherwise. However, they always have the final say on seating arrangements.
  • Departures: When the dinner concludes, shake hands and bow to the senior instructor and black belts, expressing gratitude for their presence.

Rank Examinations:

  • Show Respect: When the testing board enters, the senior student brings everyone to attention and bows. This signifies the importance of the occasion and honors the examiners.
  • Professionalism: Avoid touching the testing table and maintain proper posture, either standing at attention or with hands behind your back when addressing the judges.
  • Loud and Clear: Answer calls from the testing board with a resounding “Yes Sir” or “Yes Ma’am,” demonstrating attentiveness and respect.
  • Formal Departures: Upon leaving the testing area, remember to bow, then step back at least three feet before turning your back to the board.
  • Dress Code: Take rank examinations seriously. Whether opting for formal attire or the designated uniform, ensure you present yourself professionally.

Traveling with an Instructor:

  • Seating: When traveling by car, the senior rank gets the privilege of the front seat.
  • Helpfulness: While traveling, offer assistance with gas pumping, window cleaning, or carrying luggage. Be proactive and anticipate their needs.
  • Travel Comfort: When flying or taking the bus, give the senior rank first choice of seats, ensuring their comfort and well-being.
  • Anticipate Needs: During hotel stays, check if the senior instructor needs anything before retiring or leaving the hotel. Attentiveness goes a long way.

Beyond Rules:

Remember, etiquette is not merely a set of rules but an expression of respect for our instructors, fellow students, and the rich heritage of martial arts. By consistently upholding these principles, we cultivate a harmonious and supportive environment where learning and growth can flourish.