Welcome to Pinnacle Martial Arts! We appreciate your interest in our school. We've put together this short page to describe our expectations for classroom behavior. Martial etiquette is a rather broad subject, but generally describes student conduct with respect to oneself, others, and the school (or do jang).

Student Appearance

The Uniform

Tang Soo Do uniforms are usually composed of a white top, white pants, and a belt. At different ranks, the uniform may be trimmed in green, red, or midnight blue. The belt indicates rank. Uniforms from different schools are traditionally distinguished by patches rather than color or design.

Rules regarding the uniform are derived in part from history and philosophy. The Korean word for uniform, do bahk, may also be translated “way of life.” The idea is that the way we maintain our dress and appearance reflects the way that we live out our day to day lives. This sort of philosophy pervades most martial systems, from feudal Japan to medieval Britain. Traditional martial arts adopt some rules based on these principles:

  1. Students must wear a uniform in class. During the summer, the top may be substituted with a plain white t-shirt. Patterned t-shirts are not permitted under any circumstances.

  2. Students are expected to have a patch on their uniforms; it should be placed on the outer lapel over the heart.

  3. The uniform should be neat and clean, not wrinkled or dirty.

  4. The belt should be tied so that the ends are even. Stripes are always placed on the left-hand side.

  5. If a student forgets his belt, he should stand in the most junior position in the white belt line.

  6. The uniform is meant for training in the gym only; students should change into their uniforms after arriving for class and before leaving.

Hygiene and Safety

For reasons of hygiene and safety, students are required to follow these rules:

  1. Students must report injuries immediately.

  2. Fingernails and toenails should be kept trimmed close to the cuticle.

  3. No jewelry is permitted while training, including watches and rings.

  4. Long hair should be tied back in a ponytail or bun.

  5. Shoes and socks are not permitted when training.

When practicing on hardwood floors, training shoes like Pine Tree Sneakers are permitted. (As with the rest of the uniform, white shoes should be worn rather than black.) Shoes should never be worn on mats or carpeted areas unless needed for sanitary reasons (athlete's foot, et c.).

Respect for Others

Class Etiquette

To show appropriate respect for other students and instructors, these rules should be followed:

  1. Instructors should be addressed as “Sir” or “Ma'am,” by last name, or by title. Instructors should not be addressed by first name.

  2. While an instructor is teaching, students should stand at attention (like a soldier: feet together, arms at the side).

  3. Students are expected to obey instructors.

  4. When meeting a black belt for the first time in class, it is appropriate to bow.

  5. Unless specifically instructed otherwise, contact with other students is prohibited; students should not hit each other and must keep to their own space.

In all things, we strive to maintain an attitude of humility and deference, whether we are juniors or seniors, students or teachers.

Instructor Titles

It is common in Eastern cultures for honorifics to be used when addressing others. Probably the most famous is Mr. Miyagi's use of Daniel-san in The Karate Kid. We use them in English, too (for example, “Mister” and “Miss”). We use the following titles to refer to instructors in class:

Sah Bu Nim

This title is used for one who has achieved mastery (4th degree black belt or higher) in Tang Soo Do. The title sah bu nim is reserved for the head instructor at a school.

Ko Dan Ja

This title is used for a master (4th dan or higher) who is not the head instructor.

Sun Be Nim

This title is used for any junior black belt (third degree or lower).

Kwan Jang Nim

This title is reserved for the grandmaster (9th degree black belt) of the style. While this title is usually associated with Hwang Kee, creator of Tang Soo Do, it is not uncommon for the leaders of different associations (such as World Tang Soo Do or the Moo Duk Kwan) to assume this title. No instructor at Pinnacle holds this title.

There are several different ways to romanize Korean words, so you may find these words spelled differently in other martial arts literature.

The Classroom

Following these rules helps to maintain order and facilitate a good learning and teaching environment:

  1. Students should arrive 15 minutes early for class to allow time for dressing and bathroom breaks. Any extra time should be spent stretching in back.

  2. Students should avoid horseplay and excessive noise while changing into or out of their uniforms.

  3. Students should keep talking to a minimum during class; no talking is permitted while an instructor is speaking.

  4. Students should enter the classroom by the rearmost door.

  5. Students should make every effort to leave the classroom clean and tidy: please do not leave trash or any personal belongings behind when leaving.

  6. Running is prohibited unless specifically instructed otherwise.

As a matter of courtesy, students and parents should make every effort not to interrupt classes. Please arrive for class on time and avoid walking through the instructional area.