Leadership Traits

Effective leaders:


1.         Are clear about the “mission” of the group and are willing to take action to achieve it.

2.         Care about the people they lead and work for their welfare and development.

3.         Remain devoted to their own continuing development within the group they lead.


Behavior of Leaders


Leaders cannot afford to show bias in the way they treat members of the group. They cannot afford to show favoritism or outright disdain or dislike of anyone in the group. This should not be confused with approving or disapproving certain behaviors. This may result in the leader rebuking someone they enjoy or encouraging someone they do not enjoy. Leaders need to make every effort to try to get along with everyone, as long as this does not involve letting someone behave poorly. All judgment calls must be fair and not decided on the basis of liking or disliking an individual. It is inevitable that a leader will have someone in their group that they do not particularly like; however a group member should not know that his leader dislikes him nor should others in the group be made aware of this.


Good leaders know that people will only be a member of a voluntary group if they feel they are a welcome and valued part of it. It is important to make continuous efforts to help people fit in and belong. A good leader introduces themselves to all new members. The leader should tell them about the group, and help to teach them (or designates someone to teach them) the fundamentals. A good leader is friendly with all members and makes an effort to get to know each member, more than just their name. At a minimum, a leader should try to greet everyone present, though for larger events this might not be possible. It is a good policy to try and have small talk with all members on a regular basis. If someone is missing for a few weeks, check in with them and see how they are doing.


A leader’s tone and demeanor will set the tone for the group. If the leader is courteous and respectful of others, is even tempered and fair, then the group will respond in kind. Also, when the inevitable person comes along who is not even tempered or respectful, the group will support the leader in dealing with them, as the behavior will just seem “wrong” to the group as a whole. In other words, the actions of the leader in large part create the culture of the group. A leader losing his temper or behaving poorly is ten times worse than anyone else, so it is important for a leader to maintain self-control.


Relations with Group Members


It is important as a leader to listen and understand what those under them are trying to communicate. A leader should make sure that it is obvious to all that they are really listening and considering what is being suggested. Not all ideas need to be implemented, even if it is a good idea there may be various reasons for not putting it in place right at that moment. Never act in an arrogant fashion and always be polite and fair. Arrogance is the worst sin of leadership. If possible, provide reasoning for decisions so that others may understand the situation, however never be patronizing or condescending.  Also, do not be afraid to make a decision and stick by it if it is the right thing to do – even if it is not popular.  This is when humble leaders will be followed, where arrogant ones are rebelled against.


Relations with Other Organizations


Always accept and follow another group’s rules and respect their customs when visiting on their field regardless of your personal opinions. This is important for two reasons. First, their rules are developed for them on their field in their situation and it is simply rude to come onto their field and find fault. Secondly, when another group fights on our field, we expect that they will fight by our rules. In addition, no group’s rules should be open for general complaints by our members. It is important to insist on polite behavior by everyone in our group towards all other groups’ rules. If another group has rules that are unacceptable, politely decline any invitations. When visiting another group ensure that your members behave and do not cause problems. Banter and competition is acceptable, but should never become arrogant or personal.




A good leader does not have to be the most skilled in the group, but needs to be competently skilled and have strong interpersonal skills and good organizational ability. Above all, a leader must be a good teacher and have a high level of maturity. A good leader wants his members to excel and trains them accordingly. The goal is to produce members with skills surpassing the leader’s own abilities. A good leader will encourage members to demonstrate their talents, such as weapons building or sword techniques as this encourages a feeling of belonging to the group and being needed.  A leader should be encouraging but never flattering.


Good leaders cannot afford to easily take offense and cannot afford to hold grudges. Do not be cynical and quick to judge peoples’ motivations. Do not assume people are purposefully trying to be unreasonable, unpleasant, or obtuse. Handle all difficulties as quietly and low-key as possible. Avoid embarrassing or humiliating people. Give people an easy way to back down from an unreasonable position. Be gracious in accepting apologies. Never seek revenge for real or perceived wrongs.


A leader needs to be firm when it is required. If a leader tolerates poor behavior or challenges to their authority, they sets a precedent which will only continue to be tested. If problems are dealt with immediately there is more chance they can be resolved before there is a major problem. When people know what will not be tolerated they will be less likely to push the limits. Never be afraid to lose a member out of the group if they are causing problems and do not respond to attempts to work with them. Some people are chronic complainers and agitators. These people will never be satisfied and will find something to be unhappy about in little time. Appeasing such people is pointless and will result in greater problems. Hold the line and they will likely just go away before having to toss them out.


A good leader supports all the leaders under them. Encourage your leaders to deal with things on their own. In general give them freedom to take action. Show appreciation for all they do for the group. If a leader handles something in a less than perfect way but did the best they could, support their decision if at all possible. Work with them to handle things better the next time. Do not allow accusations against assistant leaders under you unless there is convincing proof. Do not allow people to always be running to you when someone under you makes a decision that they did not like. A leader does this by publicly supporting their subordinate leaders. On the other hand, a leader must be willing to hold their subordinate leaders accountable when they do mess up. Always work to show your leaders how the situation could have been handled better.




Once someone enters into the officer ranks, they gain the added responsibilities of helping run the group. The higher the rank goes the more responsibilities are assigned. Each rank acquires new responsibly as well as retaining the responsibilities of the previous ranks.


The field leader, regardless of rank, holds the responsibilities up to green (7th).


Responsibilities of an Orange Sash (5th)


Orange is the first officer rank. As such an orange sash helps run the group and keeps the fights going. It is important to enforce all of the rules that are in place to ensure a fun and safe environment for those fighting.




An orange sash must work proactively to ensure safety. Leaders must be safety conscious and must work to instill this awareness in others. Leaders will foresee and correct safety issues before they occur (i.e. removing hazards from the field, checking weapons that appear damaged or otherwise unsafe). When a fighter is injured, no matter how trivial the injury may appear, the leaders check on the injured fighter to make sure that he is indeed okay. Safety considerations are just about the most important concern of a leader, even though it is not the most visible thing a leader does.




With the exception of family members and chaperones, bystanders are detrimental to a fighting group and should be discouraged. Their presence can cause distractions and drama in the group. If the presence of a bystander causes a fighter to sit out fights or causes members of the group to become embroiled in drama that is an issue that must be addressed quickly. Fighters, particularly, must never be allowed to become bystanders. It quickly leads to large numbers of people sitting on the sidelines, which is a recipe for drama. There are good reasons for a fighter to be on the sidelines – injury, overheating, needing time to regain composure etc. but never just to socialize. If a problem is noted, it is important to take action quickly because the faster it is dealt with the less it will be an ordeal.




It is important to keep a watchful eye on who participates and puts a good effort into learning on the field. Such things should be rewarded with an opportunity to test in the ranks. This is no guarantee that they will advance, but it is important to note the hard work. Suggest to the field leader recommendations for who is ready for testing.


Field Flow


During the course of the day it is often required to help keep things going by helping pick team captains and the game. Having people line up for picking teams will also help lessen the time between fights and keep the process going smoothly. In the event that things go awry it is important to encourage the actions that will cause the least amount of drama and keeps the day moving.


Responsibilities of a Red Sash (6th)


Reds are the direct assistants to the field leader. They help run class and train the field. Other events such as tournaments can be their responsibility to coordinate and arrange. If the field leader is not around, a Red assumes the responsibility for the day to make decisions.




Running class and ensuring the curriculum advances the group’s spiritual, fighting, and leadership abilities. Class is an important part of the group because it is where new members learn the basic fundaments of the group and old members are able to improve their skill set. Class also offers a great opportunity for fellowship and outreach for people in the community. It is important to make the curriculum relevant to those attending. In a large group it may be needed to break the class up and have different classes for different ranks. In addition to class, one-on-one training time can be beneficial to help quicken the learning process. If someone is identified to have a difficulty with a particular part of the curriculum, it is encouraged to work with them more in depth so they might overcome the obstacle.


The Word


It is important to not only be a leader when it comes to fighting, but also in the Word. Keep in mind that as a figure of authority, you will be watched by those under you. The example you set will be very important to how people view you and the group. This comes with the responsibility to answer questions about worldly and spiritual topics and give sound advice. No one but God has all the answers, so do not be afraid to tell them you do not know or are not sure. It is important if this is the case that you follow through and find out so that you might provide the information they are seeking.




Tournaments and other special events do not run themselves and should not be left to the same people all the time – always try to involve others in events, especially newer people and people who show promise. Planning and coordination are very important for any such event. Giving people enough notice to be able to get time off work and reminders shortly before the event are good policies to ensure a decent turn out. An event can be a lot for one person to handle so do not be afraid to ask others for aid.


Vice Leader


When the field leader is not around it is important to take up the responsibilities. When situations arise that require the attention of the field leader, if absent a red sashes should resolve them.


Responsibilities of a Green Sash (7th)


Green is the field leader. They dictate group policy, arrange for testing, run the classes, and work with other groups. When a problem arises it is the field leader’s responsibility to ensure it gets taken care of in an appropriate manner. Delegating tasks is another important aspect of the field leader. They have the final say in how their group is run and what goes on there.


Group Policy


People are resistant to change, even change for the better. Leaders must be very consistent in their handling of any group. Changes should be brought about seldom and as slowly as possible. It is important to try to build consensus for a change before instituting it. People can often be led but seldom forced.




As the field leader it is important to test regularly and often. Develop a schedule for testing in order to make it less arbitrary and stick with it. When testing draws close, work with those who will be testing, and the appropriate ranks needed to hold the test, and find a date that works best. Inform other field leaders so they may attend if they wish, but their approval is not required.




No one can be expected to be everywhere and do everything. It is important that tasks are delegated in a clear manner so all involved know their responsibilities. Once something has been assigned, it is important to support the decisions if at all possible.

Other Groups


It is often enjoyable to visit other groups and to invite others to fight. As the field leader it is important to take the responsibility of coordinating such events with the leadership of other groups. In either case it is important to emphasize to one’s fighters the upmost manners and respect. When on another field be courteous and fight with their given set of rules as they should be when they come to your field. When visiting others try to arrange for transportation for one’s own fighters to ensure no one is left out.


Responsibilities of a Blue Sash (8th)


Blues help manage multiple fields to ensure a standard for ranks, groups have necessary leadership, and to help meet resource needs. As a guide line, one blue should help manage four or five fields at any given time.




It is easy to keep consistent testing requirements on a single field, but as groups grow and are more commonly found it is important that they maintain shared meaning among their ranks. Tests for each rank should hold the same difficulty on any field. There will be small differences from place to place and that is acceptable, but the standard for the quality of the fighter at each rank should be the same at all fields.


Managing Groups


It is important to coordinate with the fields and ensure needed resources are met. If a rank is needed for a test, the blue would work with the needed parties to find a solution. If a new field is starting, the blue should work with the leadership there and other fields to try to get support.




In the unfortunate event that a field leader is unable to fulfill ones responsibilities and has not arranged for one to take his place, the blue should step in and ensure that a new field leader is put in place.