Monday, April 8, 2013


I've been thinking about respect a lot lately.

Bowing into the dojo, bowing to each other, bowing at the end of practice - those are rituals of respect but often they become more a thing we just do out of habit.  We do them because we're told to do them, because those are the rules.  You can bow to someone and completely loathe them. 

Respect, like trust, takes time to earn and once lost is hard to regain.  Often people think of respect as a thing that goes outward to others - you respect your teacher, you respect your fellow students, you respect your group, etc.  But it HAS to be a mutual exchange.

Showing respect to your teacher is important, but they also have to show respect to you.  Respecting your fellow students needs to happen, but they have to respect you in return.  Respecting your group is crucial but your group has to respect you as well.

So how do you show it?  On the surface, it's an easy process.  However, there are a lot of ways to show respect - which means there are also a lot of ways to be disrespectful, as well.

- Respecting other people's time.  When people are instructing, are you talking or making side remarks, jokes?  That disrupts not only the instructor but the instruction for others.  Are you making their job easier or harder?  Attendance is another way to show how much you respect the group, being frequently on time or not.

- Respecting the equipment.  Do you treat the drums as a piece of equipment or as an instrument of expression?  Do you take things for granted?  What about the smaller things?

- Respecting other people.  Every group I've spent time with (whether another karate dojo, taiko group, etc.) has their own culture and different levels of acceptable behavior.  Some allow little shenanigans, some allow a lot of levity.  But there is a line between good-natured ribbing and picking on an easy target.  How do you treat people who can't defend themselves (who are new, shy, aren't there, etc.)?

- Respecting the art form.  Do you practice your techniques with intent?  Do you aim to inspire or impress?  How much do you focus on the moment, learning what you can?  How much do you let your focus wane because you're not interested or looking for a distraction?

Respect often has a sympathetic reaction.  In a situation or environment where there is little respect, it will diminish.  Where it is encouraged, it will foster.  Respect needs to be actively cultivated just like any other skill or it will diminish

It's more than just what you do or say, it's how your actions have impact.  What examples are you setting for others?  Are you contributing to a positive impact or a negative one?  If you asked others to answer that question for you, what would they say?

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