Here, Chris gives his view on traditions of respect and Dojo Kun number four. Last time, we talked about number three and a will for striving. Chris is a nearly-to-his-ideal-weight intermediate adult karate student.
J: Will you translate Dojo Kun number four?
C: It’s important to take the traditions of respect seriously.
J: So the original uses the word traditions instead of attitude?
C: Yeah. Yes, a respectful attitude comes from taking respect seriously. The concept of traditions of respect can be lost in translation.
J: Because of language differences?
C: Yes, and maybe more so the cultural differences.
CULTURAL TRADITIONS OF RESPECT
J: So what are the cultural differences?
C: I think it’s not so much a disparity between eastern and western culture. Old-way, traditional value respect can oppose modern culture which gets lost in building self esteem so much that it focuses on “me first.” If the individual always comes first, you lose sight of respect.
J: So is respect putting others first?
C: Generally, yes. Etiquette, courtesy, and respect help make others comfortable.
J: And what are the old-way traditions of respect?
C: Being courteous to elders and those in higher positions, like your boss, your instructor, or even a committee leader. And they don’t have to be older than you. If someone is taking their time to teach you, or even lead a group in a project, they are in a position of responsibility, and they are putting extra time and thought into that class or that project. They deserve our attention when we meet, and our respect.
J: You think these traditions of respect are becoming lost in modern society?
C: Unfortunately, I do see a lot of people and society in general losing respect. I see young people today talking disparagingly to and about their grandparents and older family members. I call them on it when it’s my place. But I’ve been in situations where I was obligated for various reasons to just stand by and keep the peace, and the parents of those young people just treated it like normal behavior.
J: Why do you think they treated it as normal?
C: I would like to say that it was just a bad day or just one family that lost sight of respect. But you can see this in society in general. It started when my generation were kids. There was a shift to the over-importance of an individual’s happiness. Selfishness is acceptable, even encouraged by materialistic ads and stuff. As long as I get the thing I want, or I get my way, then my day is good. That’s not cool. We need to learn not to throw fits, but to have dignity as well as humility. Life is not fair, but we can still behave ourselves and put others first by practicing traditions of respect.
DOJO TRADITIONS OF RESPECT
J: What are some of the traditions of respect at the dojo?
C: Some of it is built into regular class, like bowing to the instructor and shomen to show respect for those who have given us our country, our freedom, and our martial arts. Also, taking a moment to do a respectful bow when you are training with a partner.
J: What else?
C: Helping to clean the dojo. You can tell who appreciates having a place to train because they help take care of it and clean it every week. Also, I like to make a point of saying hello to everyone there before class starts. And be a few minutes early to do that and to just be physically present and ready to go. If I’m late, I’m wasting people’s time at the beginning of class. So I just do a bit of pre-planning, and I’m almost always on time for class. That’s respectful too.
J: Well Chris, we appreciate you for taking the traditions of respect seriously.
By Jenifer Tull-Gauger