The last few years I have noticed a seriously downward spiral in terms treating others with respect. I run a business and, like any other profession, people should be courteous enough to call, schedule an appointment and show up on time. It doesn’t seem that many of the current generation can grasp this concept. Instead people quite often show up and expect me to drop whatever project I am working on, stop teaching classes or just plain give them my attention even though it is obvious that I am busy at that moment. Understanding respect seems to be very misplaced today versus where it was just 5 or so years ago. Let’s look at what respect is and try to understand it a bit better.
Respect, as defined in the dictionary, means “a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.” and “a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way”. There is a statement I often see thrown around on Facebook about respect that states “to get respect you have to give it”. This is one of the most ill used statements I have ever seen is quite often used by people towards a person who superior to them such as a boss, coach, teacher or even parents. Sorry but if you are using this statement to justify your need to disrespect your boss, teacher, coach or parents you really need to take an ethics course.
In the martial arts respect is handled in a military manner. The head of the dojo (Sensei) is in charge. There are no quarrels with the Sensei. What the Sensei says the student does. Tradition, etiquette, manners all are a part of this. The Sensei is to be very respected regardless of one’s personal feelings toward them. Now, if the Sensei, is a scumbag then I agree you should just leave and find another school but most of the time a Sensei is a good person who gives up a lot of their time to teach their students and helps them. It is also important to understand that the Sensei runs a business. A dojo is not a place where you can do whatever you want and should be treated accordingly so. The dojo is to be treated like the Sensei’s home. You are a guest in their home so act accordingly and follow the rules of the dojo…not what you want to.
To understand respect it is important to list out some factors to help educate the masses on what is appropriate. The list begins with:
- Do not just show up and walk into an office. Call ahead, schedule an appointment and be on time. Just showing up and demanding someone’s time is rude, crass and something a good person will never do.
- When you make an appointment keep it! If, for any reason, you are not able to keep an appointment call and reschedule. This is towards anything you do.
- Don’t just walk into a martial arts school or business and expect them to drop everything to please you. Only shallow and self centered people do such things. In retail wait patiently for a salesperson to free up to help you, don’t bark orders at them to do so. (I watch this happen a lot at Best Buy and Walmart and it is pathetic behavior).
- When you address a person who is in an important position do so with the utmost respect. You may not get the answer you want nor hear what you want to hear but understand they are in that position because they earned it, not because someone wanted to go on a power trip.
- Respecting others is important. Learn to listen and converse without raising your temper.
- Never post your reaction to being upset on social media as it doesn’t do anyone any good…it just creates drama and no one but low life gossiping scum care about drama.
- Understanding your responsibilities is paramount. A good person never blames another for their mistakes. You must know what you are to do and then do it. Anything less is disrespectful to others and to your own self.
In terms of martial arts Respect is held to an almost military standard. Here are some things that will help you understand how it is and why it is important to swallow your ego and pride to learn…
- The Sensei is the Sensei because they have already went through everything you, the student are going through. They made it, they learned from it and now they teach it. Respect your Sensei, listen and you will gain invaluable insights that will assist you in life outside of the dojo.
- While it is true that a black belt should never disrespect a student it will happen and chances are close to 100% that student did something to deserve it. Black belts never single out a student to mistreat them but when an etiquette, tradition or ethic is being trampled on by a student the black belt will hold that student accountable.
- Karate is not like common society. Inside the dojo you are in OKINAWA. Respect, discipline, honor and hard work are more than just words in the dojo. Everyone is held to the exact same standard and accountability will be enforced. If you feel like Sensei is being too hard on you take a long hard look in the mirror and try and gain the insight as to what you need to improve on.
- Parents! Karate is not soccer, football or other activities where you can tell the coach how to do their job. A Sensei will not tolerate it. If you want say you better have your behind on the dojo floor, in Gi and training. Once you earn a black belt you will see things in a different light…until then understand that sideline coaching doesn’t exist in a martial arts school…ever.
- Students! You are a student. Regardless of your rank, trophies, levels of ability you are not the Sensei. You can disagree with your Sensei in your own private thoughts but to openly discuss it or argue with them will never be tolerated. Learn to understand that in order to teach you Karate you have to learn your place in the ranks. Never ever negatively talk about your Sensei, dojo or other students ever. If you have an issue with someone, including the Sensei, schedule an appointment and discuss it with them. Integrity is ruined by people who gossip or demean others when they are not present in the room.
- Understand that it is your responsibility to know what is going on at the dojo. This is for parents of Karate kids too. A Sensei is NOT a babysitter. We are teachers and we inform, educate and hold students accountable. When you didn’t know about something required for the training, a belt exam, an event then you should have checked the calendar, read the newsletter, checked the website or the school’s Facebook page. In today’s society there is no excuse for not being informed except pure laziness.
- Respect your classmates inside and outside of the dojo. You are in this together and one FACT of life is that you need to learn how to deal with all types of people successfully in order to have a great way of life. It is a well known code that Karate students always stick up for their classmates and if you aren’t doing this there will come a time when you wish you had.
- Understand the Sensei is running a business, not a recreational activity. In many schools the Sensei is the account, salesperson, public relations rep, manager, event planner, marketing person and more. I am not sure about other schools but I spend, on average, about 28 hours a week just managing my dojo. Never expect your Sensei to just drop what they are doing and give you their full attention. That is rude and unethical. Read #1 about scheduling appointments and do so.
- A Sensei is treated with the utmost respect because they have already earned it. They have made the sacrifices most wont just to teach you Karate. They have spent countless hours on the dojo floor training. They have sweat, cried, bled and worked hard to get where they are. Students will never catch up to the dedication of their Sensei so it is important you understand that respecting them is of the utmost importance. Anything less is unethical, wrong and just very rude.
When trying to understand the true aspects of respect you often have to let go what you believe it is. Chances are if you are being treated rudely by a person in a position of respect you deserve it. Instead of throwing a fit, calling them names or saying bad things towards / about them stop and think about your actions that caused them to react in such a manner.
When I was growing up it was referred to as manners. Gentlemen and ladies were called such because they behaved in a very respectful manner. Today our society is so confused because everyone expects to be treated the way they feel is appropriate but they have failed to learn how to build respect first before that will occur. You have to earn respect from those in positions of respect before you will get it and that requires showing respect to those in positions above you first. You can’t determine when you deserve respect. You will know it when people respect you because you have earned it versus demanding it when you have not. Children must respect their Seniors. This includes parents, older siblings, teachers and coaches. Allowing your child to grow up not understanding this rule will lead to even more confusion than our society has today. When a person is in a position of authority and you are not you have no right to be rude, crass or disrespectful to them. If you disagree you should state so in a eloquent and respectful manner but also be open minded enough to learn from the situation. That, my friends, is how you grow, get smarter and become better.