Here, I discuss respect with a karate teen. Last time, Emma had a lot to say about perseverance.


J: How would you describe Dojo Kun number four?

E: Always work at having respect, even in your attitude.

J: Do you think a person could act respectfully, but with a disrespectful attitude?

E: Well, yes. If my mom told me to clean my room, I could say, “Okay, MOM,” in a sarcastic voice and do what she said right away but with a mean attitude the whole time.

J: So you think the attitude part is important?

E: It is. If my mom says “clean the room” and I have a respectful attitude, I will do the respectful action and have the attitude that goes along with it.

J: You’d be sincere, like Dojo Kun number two…

E: I would. You can have respectful actions without the attitude, but if you have a respectful attitude, then the actions go along with it.

J: Good insight.


J: How do you use Dojo Kun number four at the dojo?

E: I’m kind to the other students, no matter whether they’re older or younger.

J: Or your age?

E: Yes, any age. I do my best to focus and train hard in class. That can be difficult when there are other teenage students there.

J: Why?

E: Because sometimes they want to goof off. And a lot of the time, they want to talk. We’re just happy to see each other and be in class together.

J: You have good friends in karate?

E: Yes, they’re great. I like to talk, but I know Sensei doesn’t like us chatting during class. When we do, we are not being respectful to the other students or Sensei, because we’re distracting and basically wasting our time and sometimes their time too.

J: I’m glad you realize that.


J: Where else do you work on a respectful attitude?

E: At home, and basically everywhere I go. The world.

J: How do you do that?

E: I just treat other people like they have value. Because they do. Even though I work at getting stronger and improving myself, I’m not better than anyone.

J: So you’re humble.

E: I work at it.

J: What do you do to treat other people like they have value?

E: Again, it’s an attitude thing. Some kids might make comments about someone’s clothes or the way they stutter. I just smile and accept them. I treat them polite. Basically, I act like I would if my nana was listening. She loves everyone.

J: You make it sound easy.

E: For me, it’s easier to do that than to come up with some know-it-all comment, then feel bad about what I said later.


J: Would you like to say anything else about respect?

E: Yes. The most important thing is to respect yourself.

J: How do you do that?

E: I choose who I hang out with. If they don’t treat me respectfully, then I don’t waste my time with them. Even if they are just generally mean to others, or even destructive to things…

J: They don’t respect others’ property?

E: Yes. Then I choose not to be with kids like that, if I have a choice.

J: Do you sometimes have to spend time alone because of that decision?

E: I do. And that’s okay. Because I am respecting myself.

J: What if you’re stuck with disrespectful people, like maybe at school?

E: Then I’m nice to them anyway. It seems like a lot of them learn to at least be good to me. Maybe over time, they’ll get better at it and be more respectful to other people too.

J: Let’s hope they will.


By Jenifer Tull-Gauger 

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