The Value of Respect and Courtesy

It has been said that the study of karate begins and ends with respect.  From a practical viewpoint, we know this to be true.  After all, we begin and end each class by bowing in and bowing out.  We also begin and end every partner drill by bowing to each other.  What is the significance of bowing though, and how does it help us teach or learn respect?  

When we bow at the beginning of class, we are showing respect to our teachers and our flags.  In essence, by bowing the student is saying, “thank you” to his/her instructor for teaching this class and passing on their knowledge.  At the same time, the instructor is bowing to the student to say, “thank you” for coming to class and for being my student.  Please note that there is no religious significance to the bow in our classes.  It is done out of courtesy and respect.  

At Kicks Karate, part of this custom includes bowing to the two flags that adorn our walls.  These are the flags of the United States and Korea, respectively.  We bow to the Korean flag to show respect to my own teacher, Grandmaster Kim, Ki Whang (1920 – 1993), who was of Korean descent.  We bow to the flag of the United States because this flag provides us the freedom to practice the martial arts and learn freely in this country.

Bowing is only one aspect of how we practice courtesy and respect at Kicks Karate.  We also use the terms, “Sir or Ma’am” when we address each other.  For example, if an instructor were to give directions to a group of students, they might all reply, “Yes Sir!”.  For those outside the karate community this might seem a bit extreme or unusual, but we believe that learning to treat others with respect, and showing respect for figures of authority, is something of great need and value in our society.  

To be clear, we don’t expect or condone blind loyalty, but instead give and ask for respectful discourse.  It is not just about how we answer our instructors and seniors, but how we show courtesy and treat others in general.  It’s about kindness, and genuine care for others.  Treating others in a respectful and kindway doesn’t cost us one nickel, yet it can have a dramatic effect on how other people feel, and how we feel about ourselves.

We want our students and staff members to be respectful of each other, to show respect to parents, teachers, coaches, and each other.  Further, we want them to learn to have self-respect.  This is how we treat and care for ourselves.  It includes our hygiene, what we eat and put into our bodies, our self-talk, etc.  Are you treating yourself and your things with respect?  

It can begin with something as simple as how we wear our karate uniform and tie our belt.  Is your uniform neat and clean?  Is your belt tied correctly?  Did you brush your teeth and comb your hair this morning?  Did you make up your bed so that you will have a neat and comfortable place to rest when you are ready to go to sleep tonight?  Did you make good healthy food choices today?  These are simple little things, but they areimportant because mastery of small things eventually leads to mastery of great things!  

Respect for self and others is a trait that is ingrained within the fabric of Kicks Karate. It is part of who we are and what we do in every class.  It is important in every interaction, and every relationship we have with each other, our students and families.  As always, we want to thank you for the trust and respect you place in us by allowing us to mentor and teach your children and family.  Bowing deeply.