There is an ancient story of respect that explains the respect that tigers have for one another in the jungle. They respect one another, give each other distance and seldom fight each other. The story goes that they understand that should they fight; the outcome would surely be that one would be mortally wounded and the other would be maimed for life.
Why is it that people don’t realize that we are not so different than the tigers? Isn’t it true that conflict between two human beings or groups usually leaves one of them “maimed?” Isn’t it true that even words spoken in anger or haste can wound the recipient for life? Let’s also not forget the damage we do to ourselves by harboring anger, jealously and resentment toward others.
Martial arts training teaches us to respect life, respect our fellow man and only to use the skills we practice to keep ourselves and our loved ones free from harm from those that have chosen to live a life of conflict, ignorance and aggression.
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In every martial art we see some form of action taken to show respect: bowing before entering the training area, a customary way of greeting the instructor, rituals before sparring begins, …the list goes on and on. These actions are symbolic representations of what every practitioner should know and embrace as a true student of the martial arts.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is known as the “gentle art,” emphasizes the importance of safety of one’s opponent or training partner by respecting “the tap.” When an opponent submits by “tapping out”, the tap should always be respected. This ensures the safety of everyone involved.
The same is true in Judo, whose competitive rules are always enforced in a way that avoids risk to the competitors. Adherence to these rules by both combatants shows respect for the art, as well as each other, even if each wants to prove that their skills are superior.
The arts of Karate and Tae Kwon Do emphasize the importance of bowing to one’s training partner while Krav Maga students take great care not to harm each other during practice as they realize that their training partner is willingly allowing themselves to be vulnerable to physical harm.
Respect in martial arts is a part of the philosophy and lifestyle that every dedicated practitioner should adopt. Practicing respect during your martial arts training has an amazing carry over affect in one’s daily life as well; in your interactions with coworkers, family, friend, and everyone you come in contact with. That’s the mark of a true student of the martial arts.
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Respect is not a part of Martial Arts – it’s what makes the Martial Arts so unique.
Here is a great story to illustrate how a New York City business man and fellow martial artist represented the spirit of respect off the mats.
One day, there was a New York businessman who was running late for work. As he rushed to catch the train he noticed a homeless man selling pencils at a table. In his frenzy – he dropped a dollar into the cup and hurriedly stepped aboard the subway train.
After realizing what he had done, the businessman stepped back off the train, walked over to the homeless man and took several pencils from the cup. Apologetically, he explained that in haste he had neglected to pick up his pencils and he hoped the man wouldn’t be upset with him. “After all,” he said. “You are a business man just like me. You have merchandise to sell and it’s fairly priced.” He then caught the next train.
At a social convention a few months later, a neatly-dressed salesman approached the business man an introduced himself. “You probably don’t remember me, and I don’t know your name but I will never forget you. You are the man who gave me back my self-respect. I was a ‘beggar’ selling pencils until you came along and told me I was a business person.”
It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a person by how he or she treats others that may appear to have nothing to offer. Hats off to the business man and much respect to the homeless man. Respect for another human being led to that human being respecting himself enough to use what he had learn to improve his situation.
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