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Tradition in the Martial Arts
Tradition surrounds us when we practice the martial arts, from the symbols in our dojo space, to the uniforms we wear, to the techniques and forms we learn. Following traditions helps show respect for each other and agreement to follow the Shaolin rules - honesty, patience, respect, self-control, and discipline. It also shows gratitude to the long lineage of people who have passed down the knowledge we learn about kung fu and the martial arts.
But you may wonder, what is the meaning behind some of the traditions we follow, and why are they important?
Here are just a few of the traditions we follow and that we expect of our students:
Bowing at the beginning of class helps us to focus and prepare for our practice ahead. When we bow at the end of class, we signal our appreciation for the time we spent learning together.
We kneel to tie our belts at the beginning of class as a show of respect and preparation. In addition, lower ranked students should always kneel while a Black Belt ties their belt, showing respect for the journey that individual has traveled and the hard work they put in to achieve the rank of Black Belt.
We line up by rank to help show the path of training that more-advanced students have taken; however, we are ALL students regardless of rank. Respect should be offered and received regardless of rank. Higher ranked students who arrive late for class should line up in the back out of respect for their instructor and fellow students, rather than insist on "their spot" in the row.
It’s easy to get excited about learning new moves or testing for our next rank, but it’s also customary to wait for your instructor to offer new material or to invite you to test for the next rank. The martial arts is a journey; one that can last a lifetime. There’s always more to learn and refine, even with techniques and forms you’ve already been taught. Rather than asking about new material, students might ask their instructor about ways they can improve material they already have. A Black Belt may have learned White Belt techniques when they first began their martial arts journey, but as they continue to practice and refine their material, they treat every technique as a Black Belt technique.
We hope this gives you some insight into the traditions we follow. If you ever have a question about our traditions, don’t hesitate to ask an instructor!