MARTIAL ETIQUETTE (“WUDE”)

These guidelines apply to our classes; but you will find they are particularly valuable when you study with other teachers or visit other schools.

  1. Try to arrive before class begins.  Time before class begins should be used for cleaning, sweeping, raking or tidying up as is appropriate for the space.  This is traditionally a time of engaging with the training space and allowing the student to mentally prepare for the day’s lessons.  If time permits, a student may warm up or practice form appropriate for the upcoming class. 
  2. Most important point of arrival time is to arrive!  If you arrive late and the class starts with a circle or other set formation, stand outside the circle and follow the warm ups.  Usually form class will begin with a circle and the teacher will invite you into the circle at the appropriate time.
  3. We honor the space of teaching with a group bow at the beginning and end of class.  Some people bow upon entering and leaving the space:  this is ok depending on the comfort of the student. 
  4. Come to class, with an open mind: “an empty teacup.” Your teacup will be filled in class!  If your cup is already filled, bring two cups.  Leave the full one outside and bring the empty one into class.  You can pick up the full one as you leave.
  5. Turn off your cell phone and all alarm/chime functions on your watch or other devices before class. If you absolutely must remain available, please let the teacher know.
  6. Continue practicing a given exercise until the teacher is ready for the class to move on.
  7. If a teacher or senior student leads from, watch for refinements, variations and corrections. 
  8. When you follow form in a group setting, be sure to vary your starting position each time.  This allows a different perspective on form.
  9. Avoid correcting, teaching, or conversing with other students during class.
  10. Teaching taiji involves a degree of hands on corrections and touching.  It is up to an individual student to inform the teacher if this is problematic.  Students, other than a designated senior student, should not physically correct another student at any time.
  11. Practice what you’ve learned in class, as often as you can. Even if this is incorrect, practicing something for a short period of time is better than nothing.  The postures will be corrected in the following class.  However, practicing incorrectly for an extended period of time will set in bad habits.  It’s important that you keep up on corrections.    
  12. Notify the school and class instructor each time you cannot attend a class, if injuries are affecting your Taijiquan practice, or if you plan to discontinue study.  This is best done via email.
  13. Learning an entire form is not the end of study. No matter how long it takes to complete a taiji form, completing a form marks the beginning of a lifetime of study of taijiquan. Study progresses in a spiral, along which the same material is encountered again and again. Each time a student encounters a posture, they will learn a higher level.
  14. When time and money permits, private lessons should be scheduled on a regular basis.  At the end of each section, private lessons are important.  Individual questions can be addressed at this time.
  15. As a courtesy, consult with your teacher regarding things related to your study, such as: questions, difficulties, or experiences; if you are thinking of studying another art or with another teacher; if you plan to perform in a public exhibition or tournament; if you are considering the use of videotapes to supplement your learning; or if you have a “different idea” regarding a principle or form. Talk to us!
  16. As Laoshi Paul Gallagher says in Filling the Teacup, The Little Known Art of Chinese Etiquette:
“In older times...cash was not the usual medium of exchange. Still, no student would even think of accepting instruction without a return of some kind. At times, if a student did have cash, a master might be given a red envelope full of money. This would be considered more appropriate than simply handing cash directly. Some...teachers, even today, like to be given a financial token of respect in a red envelope.”

Money is a symbolic form of qi. It represents a medium of exchange of the vital force of one person for the energy of another. In our culture, it is easier for students to pay a set price than to enter into the complexities of guanxi (relationships of obligation and influence in Chinese society). Nevertheless, money balances the account between teacher and student only if the student is satisfied with remaining at the most basic level of the art.

Proper and discrete handling of money is a way of showing respect for the teaching. Money, whether check or cash, should be placed in a “hong bao” (red envelope). Regular envelopes are also acceptable. Checks should be written in advance—don’t make the teacher wait while you write your check. If paying in cash, be sure to mark the envelope, or insert a note, with your name and the class(es) or date of the lesson you are paying for. If you would like a receipt, you should provide one for the teacher to sign.

Payment up front, before instruction begins, is preferred-- whether for single classes, a series, or a private lesson. This is simple courtesy: fill the teacher’s cup instead of waiting until the teacher fills yours. It settles the question of compensation so that both teacher and student can concentrate on the instruction. We understand cash flow problems and allow students to pay in installments for a slightly higher total fee. Please accept responsibility for keeping track of the installments you owe and the dates due. If you can only attend class sporadically you should pay the higher price for single classes.

An individual who cannot currently afford class fees may be permitted to defer payment or make other arrangements with their instructor. Barter or work-study may be acceptable forms of payment if the instructor agrees to accept what you have to offer. Even so, in most cases, the School asks these students to pay a percentage of the fee in cash.