NWSMA Instructor Code of Conduct

All instructors, whether they are black belts or not, are responsible for upholding the NWSMA Instructor Code of Conduct. Questions regarding the code of conduct should be directed to the senior leadership.

You can read the text version below, or download a .pdf copy.

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“Do what you say you will do.”

“Make things go right.”

NWSMA Instructor Code of Conduct

NWSMA Mission Statement

Northwest School of Martial Arts teaches because we believe that martial arts mind-body discipline is a path to a fitter self and a more confident self. We welcome all ages and ability levels, all students who want fitness, discipline, and a mental challenge. We are community-minded and family-friendly. We emphasize non-violence, self-respect, and building habits of excellence. We encourage students to work hard, be humble, and display good teamwork and indomitable “Black Belt Attitude.”

Instructors’ Mission Statement

As instructors of NWSMA, our overarching mission is to foster the growth of good character through the teaching of self-defense skills and traditional martial arts skills.

The day-to-day goal of ALL instructors is threefold:

  1. Teach martial arts skills with good fundamentals.
  2. Uphold safety & prevent injury.
  3. Exemplify and expect high standards of character.

We encourage all assistant instructors to maintain current first aid/cpr certification. All instructors, senior instructors, and non-instructing provisional black belts thirteen years & over are required to maintain current first aid/cpr (or take 1 non-certified class per year). Please keep records of all certificates & proof of completed classes.

Defining Our Roles

Senior Instructors are the masterminds. They are responsible for the overall progress of a student from belt to belt and for the quality of NWSMA programs & instructors. Senior instructors do things like: set test dates, pass/fail students, train assistants, review class schedules, plan & execute special events, and take action on school policy & larger disciplinary issues.

Instructors are the “class-terminds.” 😛 They are responsible for the overall progress of a single class & should be able to teach a QUALITY class completely on their own without any senior instructors present. Instructors do things like: plan a class, transition the class from activity to activity, test students under the guidance of the senior instructors, and award stripes.

Assistant instructors are a bit more like guides. They are responsible for the progress of students during a single drill or activity. Assistant instructors do things like: lead warmups, quietly correct or assist a struggling student during a large-group activity, lead a small group through practice & drill while making small adjustments, and assign pushups when school rules are violated.

Professional Behavior on the Floor

  • Focus on students.
  • Recognize & regulate the atmosphere of the class.
  • Encourage effort & improvement.
  • Refrain from yelling, indulging your ego, or being sarcastic.
  • Do not goof off with, argue with, or undermine other instructors.
  • Discuss disagreements with other instructors in a private place.
  • Graciously accept interruptions to personal training.

All NWSMA instructors should act respectfully and appropriately towards all other students and people. Any type of unlawful harassment (inside or outside the school) will be grounds for lifetime expulsion from the school.

What Parents Expect

Parents bring their students to a martial arts school for a variety of reasons. Most parents, at a minimum, want their children (1) to get exercise and (2) to experience a disciplined atmosphere where expectations for performance are high. They are also interested in their children (3) learning self-defense skills.


Best Teaching Practices

  • Use a combination of nonverbal and verbal cues to keep all students focused, disciplined, and engaged. Developing these will be part of your personal teaching style.
  • Try to balance the needs of the class with the needs of individuals or groups within the class.
  • Praise and critique sparingly but honestly.
  • Be patient.
  • Do not play favorites or single students out.
  • Have equally high expectations for all students, but remember that the meaning of “high expectations” is different from student to student.


These are delicate issues. Take into account each student’s personality, but keep the following in mind as well:

  • Praise the changeable over the unchangeable. Avoid praising intelligence, looks, or size (unchangeable). Praise technique, effort, hard work, development over time, and time spent practicing, which are all things students have conscious control over.
  • Use honest feedback over empty praise.
  • Never give praise where it is not earned/deserved.
  • Critique technique & effort. Give critique with respect. Make sure the student understands.
  • Avoid over-critiquing, but use verbal or nonverbal reminders such as tapping a hand or saying, “Check your chamber hand,” to the group or individual.

All instructors have the ability to handle minor disciplinary incidents in class. Larger incidents or repeated violations will be handled by the senior instructors.

Adult Students

Youth instructors should be respectful of adult students. If you feel uncomfortable working with an adult student, please have a conversation with the senior instructors about it before it becomes an issue.


Positive attention and compliments regarding an individual student may always be given, although it is better to praise the student themselves. “Caitlin did a great job in class today, her side kick is really improving!” is always okay—as long as you follow the other procedures for praise.

Only senior instructors may initiate a conversation with a parent about their child’s overall progress or behavior issues. The only exception would be if a student had a minor incident in class (like got hit and started crying, but wasn’t hurt and toughed it out).

If a parent asks you a question to which you don’t have an answer, are unsure of the answer, or if the question seems complicated, refer them to a senior instructor.

If a parent voices a complaint to you, follow these steps:

  1. Listen politely & attentively.
  2. Say something brief that shows you understand or acknowledge their complaint, but do not promise any action.
  3. Ask them to express their thoughts to one of the senior instructors. (They may or may not do this).
  4. Provide the senior instructors with a verbal report or note/email regarding what was said.

Beyond Teaching Duties: Personal Behavior

  • When you are training project a focused, serious, yet relaxed attitude. Movements should be done full power full speed, unless you have a good reason not to be doing them that way.
  • Make the school look good. What you do reflects on us. Illegal or delinquent activity outside the school is grounds for lifetime expulsion from NWSMA.
  • NWSMA instructors in middle and high school must keep all of their grades at a C or above. Getting D’s and F’s will be grounds for removal from teaching duties and delay of promotions.
  • Black belts are not allowed to date lower belts.
  • Act politely towards students outside the school. Remember the difference between “dojo respect” and “normal respect.” Students are NOT required to bow to you or use your titles outside the school.
  • Offer tips and advice only if asked for outside of class. Do not give unsolicited tips outside the school, including on social media, at school, at church, at gatherings, etc.
  • NWSMA instructors will be in reasonably good physical condition.
  • If you want to train at another martial arts school, please ask for permission from the chief instructor.
  • Act appropriately and cautiously on social media. Do not engage in passive aggressive or negative commentary about the school, anyone in the school, or a particular class.
  • Refrain from negative or critical comments about other schools, styles, instructors, or martial artists. NWSMA instructors may discuss the limitations/good points of other martial arts styles & teaching styles in an academic/scientific and respectful manner.
  • NWSMA instructors shall not come to class under the influence of drugs or alcohol, including legal drugs and prescription medications. If you are taking doctor-prescribed, necessary medications which may alter your behavior, please let a senior instructor know and we will assess your ability to instruct.

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