Coming from an Okinawan Karate background where Respect and manners are emphasized and expected, it is particularly disheartening to see some people around, take for granted the privileges that abound and not totally appreciate their lot in life.

RESPECT is paramount in our Art.  

We are taught in a traditional Karate dojo that we formally offer a curt bow for three reasons – 1. on entering the dojo, 2. on the dojo deck facing the shomen to pay respects to those that have gone before, 3. On greeting your Sensei and then on facing your partner prior to an exercise.  All, as signs of respect!

Shisa – a traditional Ryukyuan cultural artifact and decoration.

Just a reminder that we carry ourselves with self respect and respect others in an array of different ways.

It is not possible to respect others if first, we do not respect ourselves.  Respecting ourselves, you may say?  Yes, we maintain our own hygiene, use manners, avoid language that casts dispersion upon ourselves and otherwise operate within society in a Respectful way?  Of course we do!  We therefore, are armed with the natural capability to respect others as we like to be respected, also.

Home is the natural environment to learn societal mores of the respectful kind.  Agreed.  However, the dojo is also where we find reinforcement of the respectful kind.

Bowing (as outlined above) is just one way we encourage an offering of respect.  Other examples are;  having up to date dues, coming to class on time, wearing a clean gi, having nails clipped short so as not to cut anyone during sparring or partner drills and also paying attention in class.

Junior students, whether they realize it or not, offer respect to their Sensei and others by listening and paying attention.  They offer respect to their own parents by being studious, as it’s their parents that pay their dues!  Parental respect is also shown by doing chores at home, getting good marks at school, using manners and being respectful of their elders.  

Senior students being older, earn respect by ‘leading by example’ in the dojo and out.  They assist with those struggling and take an interest in sharing knowledge.

The dojo should be a place where we find and encourage positive attributes of a Respectful student and Teacher alike.

G. Christensen

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