Policies and Etiquette

Dojo/Dojang Policies and Etiquette

Never visited a martial arts school before? Here’s a list of NWSMA policies and etiquette.

School Rules

  • Respect yourself, your family, the school, the students, and all other people.
  • Act in a responsible manner, on and off the training floor.
  • Playing or fooling about the dojo is not allowed, including the porches and area outside the hall. Martial arts are serious business.
  • Please be on time for class. If you’re late, bow to the instructors and ask for permission to join in.
  • Students must have a positive attitude and maintain self-control. No swearing or using negative language. An NWSMA tradition is that negative language includes “words of weakness:” ouch/ow, tired, can’t, etc.
  • NWSMA students must turn off all cell phones, pagers, etc. while in class. Adult students: you may leave your phone on if you are expecting a business call. Inform the instructor ahead of time and then bow out to take the call.
  • Sidelines should be quiet enough so that students can hear their instructors. Adults on the sidelines may leave their phones on. Children on the sidelines must be quiet and well-behaved.
  • Cough into your elbow and cover your yawns. Wash your hands after class.
  • NWSMA students (not parents) are responsible for making sure all gear, uniform pieces, and requirement manuals are packed.
  • Make sure your uniform is clean and neat at all times. Scroll down for more uniform information.
  • Toenails and fingernails must be clean and trimmed short (to prevent injury).
  • Long hair must be tied back or secured off the face.
  • No smoking or alcohol permitted on premises.
  • Do not drink pop for the hour prior to coming to class. (Carbonation affects cardio performance).
  • No shoes allowed on the training floor without permission from the chief instructor.
  • No food or gum on main training floor. Snacks are fine if you’re staying for a few hours, and water is encouraged!
  • No jewelry, watches, earrings. A wedding ring is fine.
  • Groin supports are optional in class (required at tournaments). Each student assumes all liability.
  • Students are to behave calmly while in the bathrooms/changing rooms.
  • When entering and leaving the dojo, bow in the doorway to show respect for our training hall. Bow to say hello to the head instructor and bow to the black belts.
  • Inside the dojo, always address your instructors and black belts with the appropriate title (Sensei, Sempai).
  • Youth students may not interrupt adult conversations.
  • Listen, respect, and never talk back to or argue with your instructors, higher ranking students, or adult students.
  • While sparring, any student of any rank can ask their partner of any rank to slow down, hit more lightly, etc.
  • If you need early dismissal from class, tell the instructor before class begins. Bow to the instructor before you leave.
  • If you must straighten your uniform or retie your belt, turn away from the instructor to do so.
  • Youth students must ask for an adult’s permission before practicing martial arts at home.
  • Tuition is  due by the 5th of the month. After the 5th, a late fee will be assessed.
  • Do not ask to test. You may ask what you need to work on in order to be ready to test.
  • Northwest School of Martial Arts is not responsible for lost or stolen items.


How to tie your uniform and belt.
How to tie your uniform and belt (note that the left side of the uniform goes on top, very important!)
  • All students are required to wear a white uniform (gi in Japanese and dobak in Korean). Assistant instructors and black belts may wear a black uniform.
  • School T-shirts can be purchased from Sensei. Shirt colors go with belt rank: black belts can wear any color, white belts can only wear white or grey. Plain t-shirts or martial arts-related shirts are okay, but we prefer school shirts.
  • Belts do not get washed.
  • Show respect for your belt. Never allow your belt to touch the floor unless it is on your body. Only the school can make alterations to the belt.
  • Be sure to wash the uniform before hemming. Check the label: all cotton uniforms will shrink slightly, 50/50 blends will not.
  • Uniform pants should be hemmed at the ankle bone, sleeves just above the wrist bone.
  • Add patches to your uniform as instructed by the school.


  • All black belts can assign consequences for breaking the rules.
  • Minor rule violations will result in a reminder, warning, and/or push-ups.
  • Major rule violations will be taken to the chief instructor.