Respect and Dignity are cornerstones of Martial Arts philosophy. We show our respect when we bow to enter our dojo. This is a symbol of respect not only to those who teach us but to those we train with. All of us in the Martial Arts should make special efforts to carry this beyond the dojo. We also bow to our instructors and our fellow students. This is not a bow to say the other person is superior; it is a bow that symbolizes our respect for our instructors and training partners as people.
Today in our society often times there is a total lack of respect for others. We see this reflected in incidences of road rage, the person screaming at a store clerk, a person using foul language when trying to make a point or negotiate a position. These are only a few examples just to point out the overall atmosphere of the missing respect among many people in our everyday interactions.
While we cannot change everyone we can change ourselves and by example change the minds of those we interact with. Everyone we meet deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. There are no exceptions to this rule. Even if a person fails to show us respect, there is an old saying two wrongs do not make a right. Just as in self defense we best serve our own safety by walking away from a situation rather than contributing to its escalation.
So defending ourselves against disrespect is best served by being respectful even to those who are not giving us or others respect. We can only hope this will influence others to act as we are acting. If this fails then we best avoid that person just as we avoid situations that could cause bodily harm we should avoid situations and people that can put us in the way of “mental harm”. However, as in self defense sometimes a situation “just happens”. The best way to handle a negative encounter is to absorb it with a positive attitude, and never give up showing the other person respect. Also treat them with dignity regardless of their negative, rude, or disrespectful actions.
Acting in a respectful manor is easy. I know no one who was not taught by their parents and do not teach their own children to say please and thank you. These are common courtesies. While writing this today I set it aside for a moment to take a trip to the grocery store. While waiting in line a woman ordered the cashier “Make my bags light”. She could have said “Please”. Here was a perfect example of how we often forget what we were taught as children. So keep your mother’s voice in your mind and remember to say please and thank you. If you have children remind yourself of how you expect them to treat others.
As Martial Artists we also are taught and teach that we should help others when needed. The next time you see someone struggling to put groceries in their car, offer them help. Hold the door for people. Say thank you when someone holds a door for you. In other situations you might see someone being abused or attacked do something to help. If it is not safe to intervene yourself, call for help and let the offenders know you are doing so. We have a duty not only to keep ourselves safe but to keep others safe. If you where the one being attacked or abused and needed help, you would want someone to take action.
There are many more instances where we can provide help and kindness and a good Martial Artist who has incorporated the real philosophy of the Arts into their lives knows, instinctively, what these acts are. Our school and many others have principles to live by. We call them the principles of Black Belt and they are: Modesty, Courtesy, Honesty, Respect, and Perseverance. What ever terms used the idea is the same. Be humble show gratitude and fellowship to others. Be well mannered. Recognize the knowledge others have and remember we can all learn from everybody even a child can often times teach us something. Be truthful and sincere. Never give up on yourself or others, everyone has an inner light even if it is hidden by negativity, through our positive energy we can breach the darkness. Be enthusiastic; electrify yourself and others with your joy of life, and your spirit.
There is never a time that we should forget to treat each and every person with respect and dignity. We as Martial Artists want others to know that we don’t just kick and punch. We have a way of life. Our way is to be open minded, and not judge people without learning who they are first. We should light the way and show others that kindness and courtesy are virtues that can make a person shine. Be the person the lights up the room when you walk in. Offer your hand to help, offer your friendship. Be tolerant of others differences. Recognize that each person has their own beauty. It is your job to find that in them. By walking this path of treating others with dignity and respect we make our part of the world a better place.
One side note: I have been following the TRANSformation Coach on Face Book. Master Tran has a great program going. I recommend taking a look at this. There are also some very good inspirational and positive coaching videos posted on U Tube by Master Tran. These are all very, very, good, take a look and be Transformed!
My stories as I remember them during my journey in the Martial Arts