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Code of honour in martial arts

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Code of honour in martial arts is valued by all martial artists all around the world. They follow it religiously and also live by it. This article attempts to understand what is honour, what is a code of honour, and what is a code of honour for martial artists.

What is honour?

Honour may be understood as an abstract concept of values and principles that affects a person both individually and as a social human being. Although being socially defined, this concept is not objectified and is not made explicit, rather it is implicit.

Art of Manliness video “What is Honor? | The Art of Manliness”:

The concept of honour is so embedded in human society that dignitaries and other high-ranking persons are considered by society to possess honour. Thus, their names are prefixed by the title “Honourable” and are addressed as “Your honour”. As a means of showing them honour, visiting high officials are even given a guard of honour.

Braemar Media video “The Queen inspects the Royal Guard from 5 SCOTS outside Balmoral Castle in Scotland, August 2021”:

What is a code of honour?

A code of honour is a set of tenets, rules, principles, or values that an individual or an institution follows. There are different codes of honour for different types of institutions in diverse fields like military, education, medicine, religion, team building, and even crime.

Military code of honour

The military prides itself in duty, self-respect and guarding the country, which are included in their code of honour.

West Point – The U.S. Military Academy video “What is Honor?”:

University code of honour

All educational institutions have their own respective codes of honour.

Stanford Office of Community Standards video “Honor Code”:

Medical (nursing) code of honour

Nursing students follow a code of honour so that they can learn to discharge their duties to the best of their abilities.

martincsusb video “Honor Code for Nursing Students”:

Biblical code of honour

The Bible has several teachings and one of them is about honour.

Jentezen Franklin “The Spirit of Honor | Jentezen Franklin”:

Team building code of honour

Teams are built with shared values and aspirations towards which they are totally committed, individually and collectively. Among the many views of building winning teams, one viewpoint is to have a code of honour that can build and maintain a context in which the content can be added.

Blair Singer video “How to Build Strong Teams Using a ‘Code of Honor’ | Blair Singer”:

Mafia code of honour

The mafia reportedly has a code of honour generally known as “Omertà”.

Michael Franzese video “Mafia’s 10 Commandments found in old Italian home | Michael Franzese”:

Code of honour in martial arts

All martial arts of the world are not just about combative techniques, but also about living with particular values, tenets and principles, which may be called as a code of honour in martial arts. It implies specific qualities of respectability and worthiness, which affects self-evaluation and social standing of a martial artist. The code of honour may have several elements that includes respect, courage, bravery, chivalry, compassion, mercy, honesty, reputation, fame, magnanimity, a general scorn for meanness and a nobility of the soul. These elements make the martial artist follow a way where virtuous conduct, dignified interaction and unshakable integrity are highly looked upon. Few codes of honour related to martial arts are presented below.

Sparta code of honour

Sparta was a prominent city-state in Laconia in ancient Greece. It was famous for its warriors, who followed a Spartan code of honour.

Motiversity Quotes video “The Spartan Rules For Life – The Code of Honour”:

Knights code of honour

King Arthur, a legendary king of Britain, was famous for his bravery and his knights. His and the tales of his knights consist of legendary deeds that form Arthurian folklore and myth.

RedFrost Motivation video “King Arthur: 9 Virtues of the Medieval Knights”:

Vikings code of honour

The Vikings were seafaring people who came in longboats. They were raiders, pirates, traders, and settlers, who colonized large areas of Europe.

RedFrost Motivation video “15 Rules For Life – Viking Code of Conduct”:

Samurai code of honour

The samurai (also known as bushi) were warriors of premodern Japan. They were famous for their fighting skills and their code is known as Bushido (“do” means way, “bushido” means the way of the bushi or the samurai).

Orion Philosophy video “Bushido – The Way of The Warrior (Samurai Quotes)”:

Judo code of honour

Kanō Jigorō, besides being a Japanese educator and an athlete, was also the founder of Judo. He is credited for introducing the dan ranking system. His code of honour included serving the public for the betterment of humanity.

Judo video “Judo Values – Honour”:

Taekwondo code of honour

Gen. Choi Hong Hi was a South Korean Army general and a martial artist, who is generally regarded as the “Father of Taekwon-Do”. His tenets of Taekwon-Do form the code of honour.

TKD Theory video “The Five Tenets and the Tae Kwon-Do Oath”:

Muay Thai code of honour

Muay Thai is a martial art of Thailand that employs striking and clinching techniques. It is also known as the “Art of eight limbs” as it utilizes two fists, two elbows, two knees, and two shins. Showing respect is an integral part in the code of honour of Muay Thai.

ONE Championship video “UNBELIEVABLE Moments Of Respect In ONE! 🙏❤️”:

Capoeira code of honour

Copoeira is the martial art of Brazil and its code of honour includes the importance of freedom, via dance, music, acrobatics, and martial movements.

Steve Bartholomew video “CAPOEIRA THE DANCE OF FREEDOM A documentary film”:

MMA code of honour

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact martial art. It is based on striking, grappling and ground fighting, incorporating techniques from numerous martial arts from all around the world. In the MMA code of honour, respect is much valued.

TNT Sports video “The most respectful moments in UFC history: MMA is all about respect!”:

Fencing code of honour

The code of honour for fencing has several values that include values like being more aggressive and less defensive, displaying combativeness, never showing one’s back to an opponent, and never using the other hand.

Ninh Ly video “The Rules of Fencing (Olympic Fencing) – EXPLAINED!”:

Shaolin code of honour

Shaolin martial art is followed by Shaolin monks of China. Their code of honour is based on the Buddhist teaching that the greatest mastery is mastery over one’s own self.

Kimberly Archuleta video “⛩ Shaolin Monks 🧘‍♂️ Masters of Mind, 💪 Body, and 🕊 Spirit #shaolin #monk #shaolinmonks #kungfu”:


A code of honour in martial arts lays down the values, rules, tenets, and principles that a practitioner of that martial art follows. By following the code of honour of the martial art, the martial artist is known to possess honour and lives life honourably by travelling on the honoured path of the martial art.


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