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Taekwon-Do Etiquette

Taekwon-Do Etiquette

“Ye” (etiquette) is an essential spirit in Taekwon-Do training. Taekwon-Do practice must begin and end with etiquette. Ye is abbreviation of Kyongnye. Ye denotes the way that all human beings must follow. It is the fundamental base on which human spirit stands. That is respect for humanity. Etiquette is an expression, through actions, of one’s mind respecting the other party’s personality, constituting a lofty and valuable basic attitude in a man. A code of etiquette is aimed at encouraging Taekwondoist to behave themselves like a person of etiquette, always trying hard to cultivate a righteous and decent character in them so that everyone throughout the
world may follow their examples. Children especially need far more discipline and order. The child’s overflowing enthusiasm can be tempered only through reinforced moral education, which starts by the training of etiquette. Etiquette should be based on an upright mind and modest attitude. One should get rid of mean attitudes, showing only modest attitudes, which is an important part of etiquette.Decent and accurate speech, graceful conduct, upright and moderate attitudes are all the essentials of etiquette deserving a healthy modern life. Etiquette is also the source of maintaining harmony and solidarity for community life.



In Korea, manners (yejol) is an abbreviation of etiquette and courtesy. Yei refers to social rules or relationships that are demonstrated through personal and social language and behavior; the way of speech, attitude, and/or behavior toward others. Bumjol describes day-to-day order and procedure surrounding one’s life. Plainly, bumjol is a formal way of talking; a formal mental state or attitude; and a prescribed series of formal behaviors.
Therefore, manners, according to Korean culture, is a formerly expressed action to display your respect toward thers.
To simply acknowledge manners is insufficient; manners should be conducted with brevity and sincerity. Attention to and practicing of manners should spring voluntarily – practiced naturally rather than forced upon a person through compulsory rules or binding force. Manners that pay respect to morals and ethics, and that acknowledge the binding human conscience, are primary.


“When in doubt, bow!”

Taekwon-Do Bow and Upright Posture: In an attention posture, one bows the head by 45 degrees. The upper body should bend at the waist by 15 degrees. The back soles of both feet stick together firmly.

Bowing while sitting on the floor of the dojang, in a room, or living room: If a senior is seated, one should kneel down and bow. When a senior enters, one should rise up, showing courtesy by standing upright, and then kneels down to bow before the senior. If one is to serve as a member of attendants, he should all the time keep following the senior. When entering a room, an attendant guides the senior and stops for a while at the door so that the senior may pass in front of him to step aside, and then immediately follows the senior from behind. If the senior
is to be seated, the attendant must first watch the place to sit down to ensure the senior will be seated at ease. Even during a meeting, the attendant should always keep watching the senior from his position to be able to respond quickly to any sign of help by the senior. When a senior talks, one should take an attitude of listening carefully, let alone paying a careful attention even to a junior’s words.


Norms of conduct in the dojang:

Upon entering the dojang, one must first bow to the national flag and then to his seniors in rank order. Inside the dojang, one must try to create an atmosphere of quietness and solemnity. The dobok must be always treated dearly. It is advised not to go out of the dojang in the dobok except in the case of urgency. Inside the dojang, one must use polite language towards the head of the dojang, instructors and his seniors in rank, regardless of their age.


When attending seminars, testing or tournaments all Taekwondoist and particularly Black Belts are expected to be in the proper attire (TKD Uniform or Dress Suit of the appropriate color (navy blue or black)). Accordingly participation is also expected at these events. You are a TKD Practitioner not a spectator.


‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are words.

‘Yeah’, ‘yup’, ‘nope’, and ‘naw’ are not, so get rid of these from your vocabulary. When giving or receiving something (a belt, piece of paper, a board, a pen or pencil, etc), give or receive with both hands at the same time, and bow after gift or receipt.  In the old days, this conveyed the idea that the
person of lesser rank (or stranger) was weaponless.

When “informally” talking with instructors, stand 3 paces away, so as not to “crowd” him or her.  In the old days of Korean and Japanese fiefdoms, violation of this rule meant certain death.

Getting into a car: In a car, a senior will be seated on the back and opposite side of the chauffeur’s seat, the second senior just behind the chauffeur, the third in between the two and the last in seniority just beside the chauffeur. In case of an owner driver, the seat beside the driver has the first priority for a senior. At the time of getting in a car, an attendant must help the senior enter the car first, and at the destination,
also attend the senior by getting off first.

Never wear shoes inside dojang.  Only training shoes may be worn, and then only with the permission of the instructor.

At social occasions: In introducing a junior, it is advised to sound the senior’s readiness in advance. A third party who is going to introduce a person to another should not be talkative. The one who is to be introduced must wait before speaking out until the introducer’s remarks finish. One may shake hands only when an elder or a senior shows first his willingness to do so. Between a male and a female, a handshake depends entirely on the willingness of the female side. In shaking hands, a tight grip should be avoided.

Always bow to your sparring partner before and after sparring.  No matter what happens during the sparring match – lose the attitude and bow.

During an attendance: In guiding a senior, one should precede a step forward with a humble attitude.

Keep the dojang clean.  Throw litter in the trash; offer to wipe down the mirrors and windows; vacuum the carpets or sweep the floors after tests and class; keep equipment neatly stacked away so as not to give a poor
appearance to newcomers. It’s your school too!

Idle conversation is not permitted; raise hand if it is necessary to speak to the instructor.  You were taught this in Kindergarten, you were told to do this for the next 12 years of your academic life, so don’t think it’s any
different in a school.

Respect and obey instructors.   Stand at attention when talking to them.  In some schools, black belts aren’t the only instructors.  Sometimes, senior students of lesser rank (perhaps because of a black-belt requirement?) can instruct classes.  Treat them as you would any instructor!  Similarly, treat guest speakers or demonstrators, regardless of age, with the same respect as if they were instructors.

Telephone calls: When one makes a telephone call, he should address himself first and then confirm the other party who is calling. Receiving a telephone call, one should respond immediately by declaring his position
and name and then ask who is wanted. A telephone conversation should be brief and accurate. One should be habituated to make notes of important points during the telephone conversation.

Bow to instructors and black belts when coming in and out of the dojang (including bathrooms and changing rooms, if they lead directly into the dojang).

At the table: One should keep the body upright while sitting at the table. One should refrain from talking while taking a meal, if possible. One should commence eating after a senior has begun eating. Even among friends, the visitor should be treated with etiquette. One should refrain from making a noisy sound while picking up a spoon, drinking or chewing food. One should avoid keeping the mouth opened to be seen eating by others. One may not leave the table during the meal. One should wait at the table, if possible, until the time of ending the meal by the other party.

Use “Sir” or “Ma’am” when speaking to black belts and when addressing any adult. Every sentence should end with “Sir” or “Ma’am”.

Be on time; if you will be late, either skip class or phone in ahead of time. Being late is a sign of disrespect.  If you are late you must wait for the instructor to give their permission to enter the floor.

Do not ever approach the instructor from behind.  Most of all, this is considered impolite and devious.