Code of Conduct

This document forms part of the

AOAA Rules and Regulations.

It should be considered in conjunction with the policies and guidelines of the National Governing Body (AMA)

Code of conduct

The AOAA is a not-for-profit sport club and follows all codes of conduct as required by our national governing body, the Amateur Martial Association. The following guidelines offer an overview of what is expected of students attending AOAA classes and workshops.


Anyone participating in TE-MA must understand that it is a contact martial art, and that English Country Backswording is a contact sport, and that we deal with blunted steel weapons, therefore injuries can occur.

The AOAA rules, policies and procedures are in place to minimise the risk of injury.

Safety in training and bouting is paramount.

Physical contact

  • English Martial arts is by nature a contact sport.

  • We expect participants to be respectful of each other.

  • By participating in an AOAA class, a student accepts that a certain amount of bodily contact is inevitable, either as a necessary component of one-on-one instruction or when participating in practice or competitive bouts.

  • The student accepts that light directional placement of his or her limbs, hands or feet by an instructor are a necessary part of the teaching technique.

  • The student also accepts that grips and throws are an integral part of the TEMA system. This may often involve close bodily contact, for example, in a wrestling-style manoeuvre.

  • All instructors, coaches and students should be aware that the inappropriate areas of the body are the groin, buttocks, and breasts. Anyone deliberately touching these areas on another student other than as an accidental or contextual move when training or in competition will be subject to rebuke. Persistent offenders will be barred from the club.

  • By the same token, persistent or vexatious complainants will also be encouraged to train elsewhere.

  • Students must be aware that from time to time such contact is unavoidable and should be deemed accidental and a brief spoken apology is the only requirement (as in ‘oops! Sorry!’, for example), but if an action is deliberate or overt, the offender will be subject to warning or sanction. Repeat offenders will be removed from the class.

  • Any complaints should be addressed to the instructor in charge of the class.

  • By taking part in the class, a probationer tacitly agrees to the forgoing and agrees that if there is an issue, the easiest and only practical resolution is to remove him/her/their self from the class.

  • By signing the Membership form, the student accepts all of the forgoing without condition.

General behaviour

  • Punctuality – Please arrive shortly before the start time for training so that the class can start on time.

  • Talking - Please refrain from idle chat once the class has started and until the class has been dismissed.

  • Vulgar language and inappropriate behaviour – Refrain from using expletives while at training or events; and from behaviour that could bring the AOAA in to disrepute.

  • Failure to comply will result in a verbal warning. A member who continues to abuse this rule will have membership and licence revoked.

  • Hygiene – The class is obviously a physical one that can involve close contact with other students. We ask you to be aware of your own personal hygiene. We train in Historical European Martial Arts; this does not mean you need to smell medieval when you arrive for training!

  • Smoking –None of our training facilities allow smoking or vaping anywhere in the grounds.

  • AOAA members or those attending taster sessions, workshops etc are required to extinguish cigarettes prior to entering. Do not re-light until you are off the premises. Thank you.

  • When at events involving the AOAA please be respectful of where you are. If you are attending a period event promoting TE-MA and/or English Country Backswording, do not spoil the atmosphere of the event by smoking in front of the public. If you must smoke or vape, be discreet, and do it well away from the encampment.

  • The AOBC is a martial arts club; we therefore promote healthy living and regular exercise. Smoking aids in neither of these areas. The AOAA understands that smoking is a personal choice, as is choosing not to smoke. If you do smoke, please be courteous around non-smoking AOAA members.

  • Jewellery – For your safety please remove rings, watches, earrings, body piercings etc before training. Items of jewellery can get broken or even harm you or other AOAA members. Body jewellery from piercings can get caught up in clothing whilst practising combat. After removing jewellery place it in a safe place. The AOAA will not be held responsible for any lost items.

  • Clothing – All members MUST wear full club uniform in class.
    Regarding Novices - When training, if possible wear loose black clothing (T-shirt and tracksuit bottoms. T-shirts with offensive slogans are NOT permitted.) NO JEANS!.This is NOT so AOAA members look ‘cool’. The AOAA has chosen black for our training uniform as it has been found to be the most practical colour that stays the cleanest and tidiest while you train and looks more presentable over a period of time. Please wear suitable footwear such as trainers. No boots. Club uniform or Period Clothing MUST be worn when participating in all AOAA Tournaments.

  • Water - Please bring a bottle of water to training to re-hydrate yourself.

  • D.B.S checks (Formally C.R.B) – All AOAA members should declare any criminal convictions excluding minor road traffic offences. At some point all AOAA members will be asked to undergo a DBS check in order to participate in certain events where members of the public and their children may be present.

  • Any AOAA member failing to disclose appropriate information which comes to light due to a DBS check will have their licence and membership revoked.

  • Health – Any AOAA member or person attending regular training, workshop or taster session is required to notify the AOAA of any medical conditions that they have. Before starting any sporting activity please consult your doctor.

  • Medication AOAA members taking medicine which could cause drowsiness shall not engage in a combat display or tournament. Make your instructor aware if you are taking such meds before taking part in class. This is for your own safety and the safety of others.

  • If you need emergency medication such as Ventalin or insulin, or other personal meds, please deposit an inhaler or epipen or suchlike with your instructor to be held in the academy first aid kit.

  • Alcohol and doping- Any AOAA member found to be under the influence of alcohol or any illegal substance or performance-enhancing drug during training or while participating in an event or tournament will have their licence and membership revoked.

  • Safety equipment – When training, AOAA members and non-members are required to wear any appropriate safety equipment (fencing helmet, gauntlets, pads, box, chest protectors, etc) necessary for the type of training in which you are participating. Failure to do this could result in injury, and you may not be able to claim compensation for serious injury.

  • Members and Volunteers – All Members or persons volunteering for roles in the AOAA such as sticklers, timers, scorers or class assistants should familiarise themselves with and abide by all AoAA/AMA rules and policies.

  • Bullying- The AoAA will not tolerate bullying whether physical or mental. This constitutes abuse and is contrary to the ethical foundation of the club. Any member who thinks they may be the target of bullying must report it to the Maister or a Provost. Bullying can result in summary dismissal from the club, revocation of licence and reports made to the governing body and umbrella associations.

The essence of good ethical conduct and practice summarised

All AoAA Members and volunteers must:

  • Consider the well-being and safety of participants before the development of performance.

  • Develop an appropriate working relationship with fellow students and instructors, based on mutual trust and respect.

  • Make sure all activities are appropriate to the age, ability and experience of those taking part.

  • Promote the positive aspects of the sport (e.g. fair play).

  • Display consistently high standards of behaviour and appearance.

  • Follow all guidelines laid down by the National Governing Body and the club.

  • Hold appropriate, valid qualifications and insurance cover.

  • Never exert undue influence over performers to obtain personal benefit or reward.

  • Never condone rule violations, rough play or the use of prohibitive substances

  • Excessive force or brutality will NOT be tolerated.

Date - July 2020


In addition to the Code of Conduct document, please note the following:

For the purposes of Health and Safety

  • The Instructor’s word is final.

  • Always do as the instructor asks. There is a reason and pattern behind the teaching.

  • When the Instructor - or student- calls ‘HALT!’, everyone must stop what they are doing, and disengage from training partners. If fighting, stop immediately.

  • Do not try to second-guess or try to out-smart the instructor when he or she is demonstrating a technique, especially if you are the demonstration partner. This can be very dangerous.

  • Do not be afraid to ask a question, especially if you think it may make you look foolish. Far from it. Ours is by definition a dangerous activity, so please, ask away! “The only stupid question is the one which is not asked!”

  • Regarding questions of ‘What if…?’: Just practice what is taught. An individual technique covers one instance in time. The instructor will expand upon each technique, adding to your fund of knowledge and practice until, it is hoped, you will have enough experience to be able to defend and attack in any situation. Your ‘What ifs’ will be answered in due time.

  • If a student has a question or any alternative to offer, please ask the Instructor or your coach BEFORE practicing with another student.

  • A Student is ANY person under the auspices of the Instructor who is taking the lesson WHATEVER HIS OR HER GRADE. (A Black/gold sash may be learning a new technique based on research by the lower-graded green/red student, for example.)

  • ANY objections to the teaching should be brought up when asked for questions- and there will be plenty of opportunities to do so.

You are not expected to know everything, and everyone learns at a different pace. The instructors are aware of this, and will always do their best to accommodate all abilities.

No horseplay!

Especially with steel weapons. There will be ample opportunity to test your mettle as you progress through the grades. If higher grades warm up with loose play, do not follow their lead. The Highers know what they are doing.

Breaches of conduct

If you are aware of any student who does breach the code of conduct, the discipline outlined here or implied elsewhere, do make the instructors aware as soon as possible.


We want you to enjoy yourself and leave each session feeling good. Students’ safety is of paramount importance.

Be safe and have fun!