Etiquette in Soo Bahk Do Pt. 2 Connecting with others and culture - A Series by Steven Lemner, Sa Bom Nim, Chil Dan # 23703

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Lemner SBN series

Etiquette in Soo Bahk Do Pt. 2

“The process of awareness “

By Steven Lemner

Etiquette in different cultures have some common traits. Actions performed by people during certain situations can make a huge difference in the outcome of the action and it’s perception.

The Five (5) Types of Business Etiquette

* Workplace etiquette.

* Table manners and meal etiquette.

* Professionalism.

* Communication etiquette.

* Meetings etiquette.

These can be also seen in many of the same ways in martial arts situations. Workplace etiquette can be seen as “Dojang” etiquette. The structure of the Dojang (studio) has a chain of command. Starting with the instructor ( Sa Bom / Kyo-Sa), to senior members (Dans/ black belts), to senior Gup members (under the rank of black belt), to junior members, and finally to beginners.

The communication process is vital and must be maintained to create harmony and respect. The instructor relates lessons to the seniors to pass on to the junior ranks much like senior management relates tasks/information to next level leadership.

This process is a form of etiquette that relates common respect to all members of a Dojang/ business. When this process is broken and leaves out a part there is always disharmony.

Problems as an example, should follow the same process in order to fully inform all levels of the need to solve a problem. As example of a worker that has a problem and went to the president of a company without informing the leadership directly above them, trust can be lost and a sense of respect can be at risk for future situations.

If the problem as an example involves some one in a leadership position directly above the person, they should have the chance to solve/ fix the problem. This is simple courtesy and respect. However, if the issue is not addressed by that level leadership after being informed then it should be taken up by the next level. This creates harmony of all those involved.

In a Dojang, the chain of command is a vital part of its tradition, because as a traditional martial art it is based on military structure. In Korean martial arts, the term Moo Do is used, meaning “Martial Way.”  The ranks of a system involves responsibility of the seniors to the juniors in mutual respect and should be guarded.

The approach of a junior member to senior members have a process and etiquette. But, it is vital that the etiquette of the senior to junior is even more so as to help create both spoken and unspoken examples of that etiquette.

The “Bow,” which is common in most traditional martial arts visibility relates many unspoken intentions and demonstrates the character of the individual and their understanding of humanity and respect. As within the Korean culture the “bow” is seen throughout its culture as a way to visibly demonstrate a show of respect. A junior (age or rank) should bow lower then the senior member. This is not a demonstration of one not being better then the other, but rather demonstrating their understanding and willingness to remain humble.

Historically, bowing to show respect is seen in many cultures.

Traditional Korean culture emphasized the importance of an intricate greeting system. As early as in the Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C. until A.D. 669), Koreans used more than 100 gestures when greeting, each appropriate for a specific situation with respect to one's gender, location, degree of respect and seniority.

A persons age is very important, and proceeds any rank. As an example , a person of the age of 60 is junior in rank ( as in martial arts) to the “senior” in rank.

The “senior”, should demonstrate Kyum son ( humility) because of the others age and life’s experience and bow first. The senior, by proper etiquette would also address the junior member ( because of age), by their proper title, such as Mr. Jones/ Sa Bom Nim.

The term “Nim” helps to understand this level of respect.

I will give a personal example of this type of situation to help explain as this is sometimes confusing for some.

I am 61 years old, a 7th Dan ( 7th degree black belt), and Sa Bom (Master teacher). The individual I am talking to is 71 years old, 4th Dan, Sa Bom certified.

So I would address him as Sa Bom Nim, adding “Nim” to the end of the title to show respect for age. He being older then myself, even though my “rank” is higher.

One of those situations where you don’t know (aside from physical age), if a person is of higher or lower rank would be to assume they are your senior and you would initiate the bow first. A good demonstration of Kyum Son (humility).

While in Korea on my first visit, one of the first things that became very apparent was this demonstration of etiquette.  Seeing young people bow to acknowledge seniors in stores, trains, and buses.  Seeing them open doors and allowing them to enter first.  I was on the subway in Seoul, which is always packed, and I was able to find a seat.  While sitting there an elderly man entered, and as was just starting to rise to give him my seat, a young man, mid twenties, spoken in Korean to him, rose and gestured for him to take his seat.  The action was immediately followed by a return bow, and thanks, with a bow followed by the young man. It was as if the young man could not do it fast enough.

This was good to see, as I thought that small act of respect, kindness, and etiquette was seen by many.  When the train stopped the young man blocked the way of others so the elderly man could get up and exit.

In these situations, the main thing in my mind is to act with kindness through the expression of good etiquette.

This to me are some of the best Moo Do actions in life.  These situations surround us everyday, in simple ways. This in turn creates great awareness to our surroundings, which are key to the first step of good self defense. One of the reasons some start in the martial arts to begin with.

Awareness skills are one of the main things I teach in self defense classes. Actually, this is sixty percent of that type of class.  So I thank etiquette awareness to helping me learn that trait.

#lemnersoobahkdo #lemners #worldmdk #soobahkdo


  • Roberto Bonefont

    Began training in 1967 at the age of 16, as a member of the Brooklyn Highland Park Y.M.C.A., under the guidance and training of Mr. Mike Masley, Jr., Dan Bon 10180, and tested for Cho Dan on June 18, 1969.  Now a certified 4th Dan Ko Dan Ja, and was issued his original testing date Dan Bon 13927 by Kwan Jang Nim H.C. Hwang based on his petition to honor that date and evidence showing Mr. Mike Masley and his instructors,  Mr. Robert Sohn, Dan Bon 6037 and Mr. Vincent Nunno, Dan Bon 7291, were legitimate representatives of the Founder, and Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee and the Korean Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Association in 1969.

Series Navigation<< Etiquette in Soo Bahk Do Pt.1 Connecting with others and culture - A Series by Steven Lemner, Sa Bom Nim, Chil Dan # 23703Etiquette in Soo Bahk Do Pt. 3 “The Dojang, the opening ceremony“- A Series by Steven Lemner, Sa Bom Nim, Chil Dan # 23703 >>

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