In Yongmudo, we are learning how to hurt people. As such, our safety and the safety of our training partners is paramount. Injuries do happen from time to time, but we strive to make our classes as safe as possible. Everyone should be able to get out of bed and go to work the next day.
The primary safety mechanism is to follow the intelligence test: “Don’t be stupid”. Don’t do anything that you know (or suspect) will hurt you or your training partner. If something feels uncomfortable or you are unsure, ask the instructor. Push yourself, but not to the point of breaking — if we are doing 100 pushups and you can only do 10, do those 10. The goal is to come back and train the next class and the class after that, not hurt yourself trying to do too much at once.
One of the goals of instructors is to push you to do things you didn’t think you could do. However, we don’t know your body, your injuries, or how you are feeling that day. If you think that something we’re doing is going to injure you, or make an injury worse, tell the instructor. It is okay to pass on an activity or ask for an alternate. We’re happy to discuss alternate techniques or decide that a certain technique will not work for you (not everyone is flexible enough to kick above their head, and that is okay).
Tell the instructor if you are getting hurt while practicing technique. It is usually a sign that something is wrong, and we will work with you to fix it.
Communication is key to safety when working with a partner. Feel free to tell your partner that they need to go softer or slower. Conversely, please go softer or slower if your partner requests it. If your partner is not responsive to your requests, you should take a break and stop working with them for that exercise. Please also tell the instructor about any discomfort or uneasiness in working with people in the club. The instructors sometimes have different experiences working with students than students do with each other. We need to know if anyone is practicing too intensely or making their partners uneasy so we can chat with that person to resolve the situation and let everyone keep practicing safely.
Whenever we are applying a joint lock, choke, or other submission, we would like to apply it to the onset of pain in our partner, but not further than that (and no injuries). When a submission is being applied to you, you can signal to your partner to stop by tapping loudly and multiple times, with your hand, your foot, or by saying, “tap”. If you can tap on your partner so they can feel it, even better.
When someone taps to your submission, slowly and carefully release your submission. Quick release of stretched tendons or ligaments can cause them to retract violently and cause as much injury as stretching them too far.
When you are in class, responsibility for your safety falls on the instructor. As such, we need to know if you are going to leave the room for any reason. You are welcome to leave early, go get water or use the restroom, just tell the instructor so we know whether and when to expect you back. We don’t want people passing out in the bathroom and never being found. We will send people out to look for you if you disappear without telling us.
Please try to arrive to class early so we can start promptly. However, we understand that sometimes life happens and you will be late to class. When you are, hustle in and begin warming yourself up. The standard warm-up for late students is 50 jumping jacks, 50 sit-ups, and 50 push-ups (although see “intelligence test” above, you may do less, or more). The goal is to get your heart pumping and your muscles warmed up. When you have finished that, make eye contact with the instructor to get “bowed in” to class, then you may join. If we have just started class, the instructor may bow you in sooner.
We will be in close contact with each other’s bodies, including faces, hands and feet. As such, it is important that we keep ourselves and the training space clean to prevent the spread of diseases and infections. Please wear a clean uniform to class and be clean yourself. Keep your fingernails and toenails trimmed to help prevent scratches. Please do not come to class if you have a cold or other communicable illness.
In traditional martial arts, it is expected that students will help to maintain the cleanliness of the 도장 dojang “training space” (Japanese: dojo). At the end of class we will often vacuum and/or mop the mats, and generally tidy up the space. If you have a few minutes to stay after class, please help.
Shoes are not allowed on the mat. If you need to leave the training space for some reason, please put your shoes on before leaving so you are not tracking dirt and bacteria back onto the mat with your bare feet.
For people with particular foot problems, we may allow certain types of shoes, such as wrestling shoes, provided they are only used on the mat and not outside. This dispensation will be given on a case-by-case basis.
Jewelry and other removable bodily accoutrement are not allowed on the mats. Rings can get bent and cut off circulation to a finger. Necklaces can swing around and chip teeth. Earring can get ripped out. Bracelets and watches can trap fingers and cause dislocations. Anything that you can remove, please remove. If, for whatever reason, you cannot remove something, please ask us and we’ll figure out a way to tape it down or otherwise minimize danger.
We 기합 kihap “yell” in a variety of situations in Yongmudo. If you believe in ki, vital energy, the kihap is a way of focusing that energy. More concretely, we use the kihap when falling to pre-wind ourselves by expelling the air from our lungs and tensing our core muscles. This allows us to take harder falls without feeling winded. Similarly, we kihap when getting struck to protect our internal organs by tensing our core muscles. We also kihap when striking in order to prepare for a possible counterstrike, but also to focus our mental energy on the strike and maybe even scare or startle our opponent with the loud noise.
You may yell whatever you like when you kihap. Many Yongmudo practitioners yell “sah” or “hai”, but feel free to yell whatever comes naturally.
If you hear the instructor yell “Stop!”, you should safely stop what you are doing. Usually this is just the end of that class segment, but sometimes it is to stop something dangerous from happening. “Stop!” does not mean freeze, or immediately look at the instructor, it means stop safely. Make sure you aren’t going to drop your partner awkwardly, or get hit by a head-level kick as you turn away because your partner didn’t hear it. “Stop!” means stop safely.
We bowing to show respect and also to show that we are paying attention. We bow in several different situations in Yongmudo, usually with the commands:
차렷 charyǒt “attention” action: bring heels together, arms to sides and stand up straight
경례 kyǒngnye “bow” action: bend at your hips, lowering your eyes
First, we bow when entering and exiting the training space and stepping onto or off of the mats. This bow is showing respect for the training space by taking a moment to appreciate that we have this space to use for our activities. This bow is also a chance for you to drop whatever is going on outside and pickup your martial arts focus. When you bow off the mat, you can gather your outside thoughts again.
Second, we bow (in a particular ritual) at the beginning and end of class. This bow marks the formal beginning and ending of the class time. During this bow we will bow 선생님께 sǒnsaengnimkke “to the instructors” meaning to our lineage of instructors of yore as well as anyone of 4th dan and higher, and then 유단자님께 yudanjanimkke “to the black belts”. These bows thank our teachers, mentors, and guides for taking their time and energy to teach us. At the same time, the black belts bow to the students showing appreciation for the students taking their time to learn from us (and help us learn from you).
During instructional time, we will bow to the instructor or group leader when they begin teaching, as a way of showing that we are paying attention to them, and at the end of the teaching segment, as a way of showing thanks and marking the end of that segment. We will also bow to our partners at the beginning and end of partner exercises. Bowing to your partner is probably the most important bowing because it shows your partner that you are paying attention and indicates that you will take every precaution to not hurt them. Bowing says, “Thank you for lending me your body, I promise to take good care of it.” If your partner does not bow to you, it is a good indication that they are not paying attention. Take a moment to check in and make sure they are in the moment and understand whatever the drill is.
Copyright © 2022 Kobey Shwayder - All Rights Reserved.