Gym Etiquette 101: The Do's and Don’ts Of Training At A Dojo

Looking to train at a martial arts gym, but feeling a little nervous? Perhaps a little anxious? Or maybe you simply don’t know what to expect or how to act? Never fear, ONE Championship has got you covered!

There are so many different types of martial arts, and every studio has their own code of ethics to running a healthy, and successful, gym community. Whether it’s boxing, karate, Muay Thai, taekwondo, wrestling or any other fighting discipline, there are some universal traits and unspoken policies across the board that one should follow in an effort to be respectful to the folks you train with, and the instructor who teaches you.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of training at a fight gym, habits to embrace, and actions to avoid.

Introduce yourself and mingle

Politeness goes a long way. When entering the gym, even if you are the most introverted of introverts, you must introduce yourself to the instructor and the gym’s staff members. If time allows before a lesson, meet and greet your fellow classmates. Also, address your teacher by their chosen title such as coach, kru, or sensei, unless told otherwise.

Don’t be late

Always be on time. Better yet, get to the gym early, because tardiness is extremely disrespectful to your instructor and everyone else in the class. It disrupts the entire operation. In some cases, the regimen will come to a halt and won’t move forward without you. Worst of all, you’re robbing yourself of precious minutes you could be spending on refining your technique or getting your sweat on.

Sure, things happen beyond your control and emergencies pop up unexpectedly. But if you’re going to be late, or if tardiness may be a consistent issue, then talk to your instructor about it first.

Don’t walk on the mats with your shoes on

The best gyms in the world tend to have a dedicated staff member or two to clean the mats daily, because they don’t want any germs or bacteria lurking on their padded floor. So, naturally, the instructors and staff members turn into raging bulls whenever someone steps on the mats with their shoes on.

Stepping onto the mats is considered immensely rude. By doing that, your sneakers are bringing dirt and other unnecessary bacteria onto the padded surface. That said, be mindful and take off your shoes before proceeding onto the mat. Also, if you need to go to the bathroom or anywhere else in the gym that isn’t matted, then put on a pair of flip-flops and stroll to your desired destination.

Clip your nails

Knives are sharp. Swords are sharper. Long fingernails and toenails, however, are the sharpest. Ok, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but nothing is more annoying than training with someone who has long fingernails and toenails. Whether you are sparring with a pal in Muay Thai or rolling with someone in BJJ class, nobody wants to be clawed mid-maneuver. Trim your nails before you hit the mats, Wolverine.

Be nice

No one likes a jerk. This especially holds true in an environment where people come to learn a craft, and refine and polish their skills. Some people are already self-conscious being in a gym atmosphere, so the last thing they need is to be working out alongside a pompous person. Simply put, leave your ego, the foul language and crude behavior at the door.

Practice cleanliness

You don’t want to punish your training partners by wearing foul-odored clothes, and you certainly don’t want to be known as “that dude” or “that chick” at the gym who smells bad. 

So if your gym clothes are dirty or smell a little funny, wash them (soak them in a tub of vinegar if you must), and shower after you train. Also, if you use a pair of gloves, shinguards, or any other pieces of training equipment at the gym, then make sure you clean it with a disinfectant after you’re done. Practice good hygiene habits and master them.

Treat people with respect

Follow the golden rule: treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s so elementary, yet so true. No one likes to be disrespected, so flash those manners you were taught when you were younger. Maybe, with a little bit of luck, your fellow training partners and coaches will become your gym family. 

Don’t intentionally hurt your training partners

Injuries happen. They are inevitable, especially minor ones during sparring sessions. But not everybody is trying to compete in the ring. Some people just want to learn self-defense skills and get a solid workout in, and that’s important to remember. Be aware of your skill level and strength when working with another person. You’re training to train another day. Your partner is, too.

Cover your wounds

If you have any pre-existing open wounds, cover them up. Throw a band-aid or some other type of cohesive tape over it. You don’t want to run the risk of infection, and you don’t want to gross people out during class. Not everybody is comfortable with blood and seeing exposed flesh, and in worst-case scenarios, they might be sick all over the mats. 

Images: Mark Teo

Venue: Evolve MMA

Venue: Team Highlight Reel