Word of the Month: Respect

Respect is one of the words most often associated with karate, and for a good reason. We care about it a great deal.

Karate practitioners are taught to bow when they enter a dojo, when they greet their sensei, when they start working with a
partner and so on. This not only shows respect for the long tradition of the art and for all the practitioners who came before us, but it is also a great way to acknowledge the wisdom and knowledge that our instructors share with us. We bow to offer thanks for the opportunity to learn from each other.

A proper bow, as Sensei Cody Diesbourg explains, shows the person we think they are worth our taking the time to do it right. Anybody can be sloppy and bow quickly and half-heartedly, but “when you don’t take the time to do it properly, it has the reverse effect of respect. It looks lazy, it looks like things are rushed. And really respect is about taking the time to actually show someone that they’re worth you putting your feet together, putting your hands at your side, and giving a good bow.”

Karate is of course a contact sport so it’s important to show proper control and respect for our training partners and opponents. “When you’re throwing kicks and punches at each other,” Sensei Cody says, “you have to have that level of trust. And the only way to have that level of trust is to show respect and to earn that respect back.”

At Douvris Martial Arts we take the concept of respect and push it one step further and focus on self-respect as well. We expect students and instructors to keep their uniforms clean and to wear them properly. We ask that students turn towards the back, away from the instructors, when they need to fix their gi or tie their pants. We also put a great deal of effort into teaching students to treat their belt with the respect they deserve. “That belt is a big piece,” Sensei Cody explains, “it symbolizes all the hard work and dedication and everything that you’ve put into your training. That’s a marker to show you that progress.” And we need to respect that, for instance by making sure we don’t leave our belt lying around or on the ground.

When students are taking good care of their uniforms and belts, they’re showing good self-respect and they are better able to then show respect to others. It is by insisting on these concepts every single day that we ensure karate practitioners continue the tradition of being respectful and pass it down to others.