Training Etiquette

Training Etiquette

Posted by Matt Little on 14th Dec 2023

“The path of martial arts begins and ends with courtesy.” — Mas Oyama.

I’m writing this as I prepare for a weekend as a student, training in a class taught by friends. This prompted a train of thought about some of the behaviors I see in classes, mine and others. When you attend formal training, there is definitely an etiquette that should be observed.

I tend to take that for granted, probably because of my martial arts background. But I realize that many shooters don’t have that same experience to draw from, and may not understand when they’re offending the instructor or their fellow students. Every student at a formal training class has paid to be there and learn from the instructor. Etiquette facilitates that by keeping the training environment conducive to learning for everyone.

So what things constitute good training etiquette? In my opinion, there are three elements that make up the right attitude to have.

The first is simply a willingness to learn. If we aren’t able to keep an open mind about someone else’s instruction then we are wasting our time in class. I always try to give anything being taught a fair assessment. Even if I only learn that my initial opinion was correct, I still learn. And in many cases, I have learned valuable things from instructors I have disagreed with.

A second element is effort. And I don’t just mean effort within the drills being taught, although that of course matters. Are you arriving to class in sufficient time to be ready to train when it starts? Are you reloading your mags and returning to the line in a timely fashion? Are you late returning from lunch? All these things can either improve the flow of a class or impede it.

The third is respect. Both for your fellow students and for the instructor. Take correction without defensiveness. Unless tasked to do so, don’t coach others in a distracting way, or “teach over” the instruction given. Allow others their opportunity to learn without interference. And allow the instructor to teach without having to talk over the students. This applies to humor as well. Adults learn better with a certain amount of rough humor, but it should never become a distraction in class. The same goes for competitiveness. Competition breeds excellence, and it’s a valuable part of the class environment. But it should be good natured and positive.

If we all make a good faith effort to embody these three elements of training etiquette then we can create an optimal learning environment for everyone, and maximize our valuable training time.