Sunday, July 10, 2016

Respect is a Two-Way Street

There aren't very many issues on which I will claim that Tang Soo Do, the martial art I study, or more precisely, the manner in which Tang Soo Do is taught, is better than other arts. I seldom elevate my art above others for two reasons; first I haven't studied other arts that deeply, and it's a silly thing to do.

Bragging about one's martial art kind of defeats the whole humility thing, it is a less than subtle challenge, and can lead to both physical and philosophical black eyes.

Yet, there is one thing we do, that if other arts don't do it - it's flat out wrong.

We bow to each other. I bow to you, you bow to me. I bow to my seniors, they bow to their juniors. While there may be the slightest sequence of junior-goes-first, it is very subtle and frankly unnoticeable. Never do you see a White Belt bow to a Black Belt, only to have the Black Belt ignore or feign indifference to the White Belt.

It is a sign of mutual respect. It is an acknowledgment of value. I value you, and you value me. Students need the value of the instructors, and instructors value students. I cannot imagine a discipline (art, math, religion, computer programming) where co-participants would not acknowledge the value each others bring to the venue.

Grandma - weak and feeble, and yet...

Do you remember the last time you visited grandma's house? She walked kinda slow, she needed help opening jars, and she was frail; and yet, you waited for her, you helped her, and you treated her with respect. No one began eating until grandma was seated at the table.

At the beginning and ending of every class, we come to attention, and then sit cross legged on the floor for a brief meditation. The sitting process begins with our most senior students and proceeds downward through the ranks until the last White Belt is seated. Only once everyone is ready does the call for meditation begin.

In other words, the most senior instructors and students in the class wait patiently until the lowest, weakest, newest members of the studio are ready. It's yet another sign of the two-way respect that we show to each other.

I love the lessons we learn and propagate in Tang Soo Do. These are meaningful life-lessons we can take where ever we go.

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