Nowadays, the interest for Martial Arts has been increasing thanks to the popularity of mixed martial arts. Although beneficial, I believe that a lot of things have changed since MMA became wildly popular. Traditional uniforms and belts are seen as old-school, titles like Sensei or Sifu have been dropped, styles and school rules have also changed. To be fair, change is good. Itâ€™s progress that we canâ€™t deny anymore. A lot of things change, and will change given the proper amount of time, but I still believe that etiquette should still prevail.
Martial arts studios understandably try to be unique in their own right. Some make their dojos distinctive or style their uniforms with more colors or prints. Others go to greater lengths by creating their own discipline or combining proven styles and making them better. Although we all must strive to be far from mediocrity, one thing should bind and unite us, even if we practice different disciplines and styles, and that is martial arts etiquette.
One way of making sure that etiquette is still present in your school is keeping traditions alive. Some schools donâ€™t even have ranking systems anymore, they allow people to train in shorts and shirts, and they believe that calling their teachers by their first name is alright. To some extent, itâ€™s okay, Iâ€™m sure there are reasons why this is happening today. But uniforms, titles, and ranking systems also do have their valid reasons why they exist and why they must be kept alive.
Uniforms represent unity and being included. A martial arts studio is a place where students feel like a family where every kid who practices with him or her is a brother or a sister. Titles provide a sense of seniority which keeps the students grounded. Ranking systems serve as goals which gives students a sense of purpose and achievement. It challenges them to study and train harder.
If we let go of these traditions, selfish and egotistical training comes in. Where a student is too focused on improving his own skills and in the process, belittles the other virtues of martial arts. Martial arts is not just about improving yourself, itâ€™s also built on the principle that we should use our strength to help other people. If we focus too much on ourselves, we forget the sense of family, the sense of unity.
I firmly believe that one way to make sure that we donâ€™t forget our virtues is by practicing our traditions to the most of our abilities. Learning moves and being able to defend ourselves is just the icing on the cake. Martial arts also teaches life lessons that we can use to better everything around us and one of the most important of them is etiquette.