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Ottawa Swordplay’s salute words are: “The Tower’s Vigilance,  The Gate’s Defence, The Ox’s Endurance and the Boar’s Advance.” These words carry important meanings for swordplay and form the foundation of our Code of Conduct and Freeplay Safety policy.  

Vigilance: Stay focused. Be aware of your surroundings and the people in them. Look for what you can do to make things better.

Defence: Make our activities safe for everyone, martially, emotionally and socially.

Endurance: Improvement in swordplay does not come overnight.  Neither does our growth as people. Keep trying, be patient, learn from your mistakes. 

Advance:  With vigilance, defence and endurance comes advancement.  The lessons that help us become better swords people, also help us become better people.

Ottawa Swordplay aims to be a safe and welcoming space for everyone. All of our staff and students are expected to abide by our Code of Conduct while at the Swordhall and at off-site events.

Vigilance in taking care of our Students:

    • We practice a weapons based martial art which clearly carries the potential for injury.  Always practice with the safety of your training partner in mind. See our Freeplay safety policy for further insight.
    • Students are welcome to ask questions and give each other feedback (especially to help their partner calibrate correctly); however, only Ottawa Swordplay staff may provide instruction. Please limit peer coaching to exercises where it is explicitly requested.
    • Ottawa Swordplay welcomes people of any gender identity or expression; students and staff are expected to use each other’s preferred personal pronouns (e.g. she/he/they) when speaking. If you are not sure what pronouns someone prefers, ask them. Please see our Gender Pronoun Policy and Reference for more information.
    • Anyone who engages in discriminatory or harassing behaviour will be removed from class and may also lose future training privileges. This includes - but is not limited to - discrimination based on race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic or religious background, and ability; as well as verbal, physical, and sexual harassment.
    • No person may participate in training or freeplay while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Vigilance in taking care of our Swordhall:

    • No wet or dirty footwear may be worn in the gym; non-marking indoor shoes are required for training and freeplay.
    • There is a limited amount of onsite storage that can be rented on a per term basis for student gear, otherwise students are expected to take their gear home with them between classes.
    • All school equipment, including training swords, must be put back in designated areas after use. 

Maintaining a safe and welcoming space for everyone takes work. We are all responsible to make it happen.  If you see something that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, or have any questions about our policies, please speak to an instructor.

Gender Pronoun Policy and Reference

Ottawa Swordplay’s community includes people with a range of gender identities and expressions. Students and staff are expected to respect each other’s preferred personal pronouns when referring to each other. Deliberately using the wrong pronouns to refer to someone constitutes verbal harassment under our Code of Conduct and will be dealt with accordingly.

New to gender-inclusive language and unsure how to handle pronoun usage? Read on:

    • Personal pronouns, like names, are closely tied to identity. Being referred to with the pronouns that match our gender identity is a basic measure of respect and courtesy, and being referred to with the wrong pronouns can be hurtful.
    • Commonly used personal pronouns include:
      • she/her/hers (feminine)
      • he/him/his (masculine)
      • they/them/theirs (neutral)
      • zie or xe/hir/hirs (neutral)
    • If someone asks you to refer to them by a specific set of pronouns, do so. It’s fine to double-check spelling and pronunciation, or ask a simple question that helps you use those pronouns correctly. More invasive questions about the exact nature of a person’s gender, identity, anatomy, or history are inappropriate and unacceptable. Be aware that someone’s pronoun preferences may change over time, and be ready to adapt to new information when necessary.
    • Consider introducing yourself with your name and preferred pronouns when meeting new people. “Hi, my name is Sam and my pronouns are she/her” can take getting used to, but it makes it easy to get things right from the start. If you’re not sure what pronouns someone prefers, or you forget their preference, just ask.
    • Mistakes happen, and we’re all familiar with the mild embarrassment of getting someone’s name wrong. Treat a pronoun error the same way: correct yourself (or politely accept someone else’s correction), apologize briefly if needed, and move on. There’s no need to discuss the mistake at length or make elaborate apologies, and centering your feelings or drawing extra attention to the error will only make the person you mis-labeled uncomfortable.
    • Make sure to use others’ preferred pronouns at all times, regardless of whether they are present.
    • Don’t deliberately get others’ pronouns wrong, make jokes, gossip, or speculate about another person’s pronouns, gender expression, or identity.

Additional Reading and Resources:

Robot Hugs comic on pronoun etiquette: view comic

University of Milwaukee guidelines, including examples of less-common pronouns, usage, and some history: read more

QMUNITY queer and trans glossary, including many terms related to gender identity: Download PDF


We believe that high-quality martial arts training should be available to as many people as possible, and will be taking steps to make our space and courses accessible to a broad range of students. Our Code of Conduct specifically prohibits discriminatory or harassing behaviour based on race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic or religious background, and ability, and we will respond quickly and seriously to all forms of harassment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

This Code of Conduct is adapted in part from Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly's excellent policies and training space rules. 

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