With respect being the base attribute for martial artists, I believe that it is important for one to fully define what respect means. We bow in our studio to show respect. When I explain respect to my younger students, I tell them that it means to treat people the way you like to be treated. As student mature, it is crucial to expand past this basic level of respect.
Respecting Yourself First
There are two forms of respect: self respect and respect towards others. Self Respect is step one. As martial artists, we need to treat ourselves with the highest level of respect. That means mentally, emotionally and physically. Mentally we need to overcome self doubt and continue to remind ourselves that, yes, we can do whatever we need to to better our form. Emotionally means to celebrate our victories and learn from our losses. Physically means to not only giving everything we have during our training sessions, but also to make sure we are putting good, healthy nutrition into our bodies. Putting all of this together leads to an understanding of respect as more than just a word we say, to an action we do on a daily basis.
Respect In The Studio
If I as an instructor show self respect on the floor, my students well inherently learn the value of self respect. Likewise if I treat every student with respect, then they will learn how to treat each other with respect. But again, treating others with respect does not mean doing the “nice thing” all the time. It means pushing my students to do that extra push-ups, to throw that extra kick, to run for that extra 10 seconds, because then and only then will they be able to improve. It teaches them to challenge themselves and then they can begin to respectfully challenge each other.
Respect At Home
All of the lessons students learn at the studio will translate at home. In 2014, Admiral William McRaven gave the commencement speech to The University of Texas. He told the students if they want to be successful to make their bed every day. The idea is that no matter what else you do during the day, you have started off by accomplishing one simple task. When you return home and head to bed for the night, you will be thankful for that freshly made bed. This type of action takes respect to a level above just the word but to an action. For young students, making the bed well then extend to cleaning their room, to helping put dishes away after a meal, to asking mom and dad how else they can help. For older students it brings a level of mindfulness to the rest of their life. They begin to notice smaller details about their surroundings and how to make better life choices such as eating healthy. Self respect taught in the studio translates to a respect for others as training partners, and respect for your family and your home.
Respect In The Community
Once you respect yourself, your friends, family and your home, then respect will seeped out into every aspect of your life. A martial artist that shows respect will be a more attentive driver, will keep a level head during tough discussions, and will have a better appreciation for nature and the world around them. It’s a simple formula that can help unite this world one person at a time. Again, it is all about showing respect not just talking about it.
One of my favorite memories as a kid: Whenever we held shields for each other, we would firmly hold our ground with everything we had, forcing our partner to kick harder than they had before in order to move us back and complete the drill. Looking back, as a kid I thought I was just competing with my friends, but in reality we were pushing each other to become better every time we work together. It would’ve been really nice for my partners to just move back and let me finish the drill quickly. But I would not have improved and gotten to where I am today. I am thankful for all of my instructors and classmates for showing me respect and pushing me to be the best version of myself that I ever could be.
Respectfully Submitted, Tiger Blood