Cuong Nhu Etiquette: West Coast Training Camp Edition

Each year, Cuong Nhu instructors from across the country come to the Bay Area to teach classes at West Coast Training Camp. With a full schedule of classes ranging from soft-style katas to advanced weapon training, balanced with meal times spent socializing with fellow Cuong Nhu practitioners (not to mention the famous cookie break!), students of all ages always love the experience.

As you get ready for a fun filled weekend, here is a review of some of the rules of etiquette in Cuong Nhu. Cuong Nhu Redwood Dojo is a traditional martial arts dojo; the customs in Cuong Nhu help students respect each other, their instructors, and the art. Once you know what is expected, you can focus on your training. Whether you are a new student or have been studying for years, a student yourself or a parent of a student, will be attending West Coast Training Camp or not, it is worth reviewing these guidelines.

Bowing

The Cuong Nhu bow is a sign of respect that is used frequently. When you are bowing to a person, both people bow to each other simultaneously. Some of the most frequent times we bow are: when you enter or leave the dojo (or training space); when you begin and end class; when you begin and end partner work; when you begin and end a kata.

Speaking to Black Belts and Instructors

Black belts are called “Sensei” in Cuong Nhu. If you are speaking to a black belt in class, weather they are your instructor or your partner, you should address them as “sensei” or “sensei <first name>.” This title does not mean they are better than you, it simply acknowledges their rank. Those who hold the rank of sixth degree black belt or higher hold the title of “Master.”

Asking Questions

There is a time and a place to ask questions, and there are lots of times in class to NOT ask questions! When you are in class, it is always best to focus on practicing even if you have a question or two. There will be a time to ask these questions, either at the end of the drill or class, if the instructor asks for questions, or outside of class time. Questions to clarify how something is done are much more useful than questions that begin with “but what if they …” Be thoughtful about your questions. Is there something you don’t understand or do you just need to try it a few more times to figure it out?

At events like West Coast Training Camp there are also lots of opportunities to ask questions about Cuong Nhu from experienced instructors who have lived much of its history. You are encouraged to attend the dinner on Friday and the party on Saturday evening to get to know the out of town guests. In these non-class setting, questions and conversations are encouraged!

Wearing Your Uniform

Make sure your uniform is neat, complete, and put on properly. You should wash it, and if needed, iron it regularly. A complete gi top includes the Cuong Nhu patch (left side) and your first name (right side). If you have a stripe on your belt, it should be sewn on and should be on your left side when your belt is tied. If you do not yet have your patches or name on your uniform, get them done before training camp!

All Redwood Dojo students below the rank of black belt wear a white gi. You may see instructors or students from other dojos wearing other colored uniforms during the classes at West Coast Training Camp.

Your uniform should not be worn outside the dojo. If there is a place to change (like there will be in the Alameda High School gym for West Coast Training Camp), you should arrive in your street clothes and then change into your uniform. Similarly, when you leave you should change back into your regular clothes. When you put your uniform on, ensure that you don’t have other clothes sticking out (for example, your shirt should be tucked in). Do not wear a watch or jewelry in class. At Redwood Dojo, since we do not have a full changing room, you may arrive in your gi pants and a shirt. You should put your gi top and belt on after you are in the dojo.

Joining Class Late

If you are late to a class, you are still encouraged to join in! Stand in natural stance on the side where the instructor can see you. Once they bow to you (you bow to them at the same time), just join the group and listen carefully to find out what is happening. If for some reason you need to leave a class early, you should let the instructor know and bow out of class before leaving.

Working with a Partner

When you are working with a partner in class, either at training camp or at your home dojo, remember to show your partner respect and focus on practicing. You should not talk with your partner. You should not instruct your partner. This is true no matter what ranks you and your partner hold. If someone is a lower rank do not assume you know more than them. It is not your job to instruct; it is your job to practice and to allow your partner to practice.

The only time you should give your partner feedback is if you were specifically instructed to do so for the drill or if you feel unsafe. If your partner is doing something too hard, you may ask them to lighten up. Similarly, if you are practicing and your partner asks you to go lighter, then go lighter! Safety is always of the utmost importance. Do not let you or your partner become injured.

Learning a Weapon

West Coast Training Camp gives you exciting opportunities to learn weapons and other techniques or katas that would normally be beyond your rank. While you should absolutely take advantage of this opportunity, you need to understand and respect the weapon.

Treat the weapon as real even if it is a practice (or blunted) weapon. Do not play around with it, hold it inappropriately (for example, by the “blade”), or hit it against anyone or anything. You will learn the proper way to use the weapon in class, and this is how you should use it at any time. Practicing outside of class is great, but not to show off or goof-off, especially with a weapon.

During Breaks

Keep in mind that if you are in the dojo, the expectations of control and respect always apply. Break times do not give you permission to run wild and ignore the rules. Be aware of what is happening around you. If you see something that needs to happen, take responsibility for it. This can be anything from cleaning up spills or helping set up chairs to reminding kids to not run in the dojo.

Parents Watching Class

Parents, you are a big part of your child’s training and we thank you for it! The classes for children at West Coast Training Camp are great and taught by highly skilled and experienced instructors. As is true at Redwood Dojo, you may either stay and watch or you may leave your child and come back to pick them up at the end. If your child must leave before the end of the event, please be sure that their instructor knows when they are leaving.

If you are staying to watch, please keep in mind that your child should be focused on their instructor. Do not advise or coach your child from the sidelines. Similarly, your child should not just leave class to go to you. If they need something, they must get permission from the instructor before stepping out of class.

Please keep in mind that the we are teaching your child that the dojo is a place of respect. You can do a great deal to support this lesson; while you are in the dojo, model respectful behavior and help other children or visitors do the same. If you have younger children with you, ensure that they are not disruptive and please refrain from loud conversations during class.

When in Doubt

If you have questions about etiquette, the safest bet is always to do whatever is more formal. You can also ask a senior student (brown belt or higher) or an instructor outside of class time. In Cuong Nhu, we have many rules and traditions to follow. If you make a mistake, simply fix it and move on.

West Coast Training Camp is about learning new things, getting to know other members of Cuong Nhu, meeting talented instructors, and enjoying a great workout. Review these guidelines before you go, and then allow yourself to focus on the fun weekend of training!

Register for West Coast Training Camp.

Advertisements

NEW Beginning Adult Class This Fall!

Let’s be honest.  Working out by yourself is tough.  For most of us, staying motivated while solo is nearly impossible.  That’s why our bike tires are flat, our running shoes gather dust in the trunk of our car, and we only go to the gym when it’s time to renew our membership.

Remember when you were in school and were part of a team?  That camaraderie of an athletic community is harder to find as an adult.  And finding one that isn’t only about competition is even more difficult.  If what you really want is to get in shape while having fun with other Oaklanders, look no further!

We are excited to announce a new class coming this fall!  The Beginning Adult Class is an introductory martial arts class for new students (18 or older) in Oakland.  Join us if you want to get in shape, learn self-defense skills, build your confidence, find a healthy outlet for stress, give martial arts a try, and train with a group of enthusiastic like-minded individuals.

When does the class start and how often does it meet?

The class begins September 4, 2018.  Classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 to 8:30 pm.  Students can also attend the Saturday morning outdoor class for all ages and ranks (9:30-10:30 am).

The Beginning Adult Class is a three month commitment.  After that, students may either continue the in the Beginning Class or may move into the All Ranks Adult Class.

How do I sign up?

Enrollment is now open!  Click here to reserve your space today.  Once you have submitted the form, we will contact you to confirm your enrollment and answer additional questions.

How much does it cost?  And are there any discounts?

We are running a Beginners Bring-A-Friend Special – two students for just $299!

This three month class is always a great deal (the regular price is only $174), but now if you sign up with a friend you can save $49.

After the first three month, students can continue at the normal rate of just $58 per month.

Where can I learn more?

For more details and to sign up for the class, click here.  You can also check out the Adult Program page to learn more about our martial arts program.  If you have additional questions, please email us at info@redwood-dojo.com

A Glimpse Into Training Camp

Four weeks ago, I woke up in a dorm room at the University of North Carolina.  The excitement began to set in as the sleepiness wore off.  I was 2,342 miles from home and my toddler, about to embark on four days of living the martial artist’s dream.  I was at training camp; my schedule was cleared, with nothing but Cuong Nhu on the docket for the holiday weekend.

I’ve been to training camp eight times before.  I’ve flown across the country, taken red-eye-multi-layover flights, and one time even a greyhound bus.  And every time it has been totally worth it.  Worth the time, energy, and expense needed to get there.  Once at camp, it’s like time stops.  Everything in the “real world” fades away and doesn’t matter.  It is four days of training hard, learning new things, working out with your counterparts from near and far, developing new friendships, and celebrating the people who make up Cuong Nhu.

This year was the first time I’ve gone since becoming a mom.  My daughter is almost two, and while I missed her a great deal, I was also thrilled to immerse myself in the training camp experience once again.  I joined some three hundred and fifty people, including Sensei Didi and Sensei Paul from Redwood Dojo, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I re-connected with the Cuong Nhu family that is spread across the country.

From discussing the theory of quantum physics with the head of Unity Martial Arts in Arkansas, to exploring the subtleties of soft-style with instructors from World Headquarters, to debating where to find the supplies needed to make a rope dart with brown belts from Rohai Dojo, the camp experience is always a unique one.  This year was especially significant because it included Sensei Didi’s promotion to Shichidan (7th degree master).  You may have noticed her new belt when we returned from IATC (International Annual Training Camp).

Though there is no way to really capture the training camp experience, you can catch of glimpse of it through some photos here.

Training camp sounds great!  Can I go to IATC next year?

Yes! All Cuong Nhu students are welcome.  There are classes for all ranks, for kids and adults.  Redwood Dojo students and instructors make the trip out regularly.  It is always on Memorial Day weekend, so you can start planning now!

If you want a taste of training camp but aren’t ready to fly across the country, we bring the camp to you!  Each year we have West Cost Training Camp here in the Bay Area.  Mark your calendars now – it will be September 28-29, 2018.  With so many great instructors and students visiting from all over the country, be sure you don’t miss out!

P.S. A big thank you to those who stayed behind and taught classes while we were away at camp!