The word respect has always been closely associated with the Martial Arts, but what does it actually mean? To hold someone in high regard? A term used to define someone's superiority? Perhaps to recognise someone's abilities be it social, physical, emotional, or all of these.
Martial Arts without thought or emotional content is nothing more than a series of movements. Movements which are empty of any thought or mental stimulus. Therefore, in order to transform these 'empty' actions into thoughtful, living behaviour patterns, one must add mental activity into the mix.
I highly respect my teachers for the inspiring skills they posses, for passing on their skills and knowledge to me, and for the way they conduct themselves generally, both in the Dojo and out.
When I speak with, or hear others talking of Masters such as Guru Dan Inosanto, Guru Bob Breen and Guru Terry Barnett (to name but a few), it is clear that we all share the same views. We would do anything to help them, make them happy, anything to show how truly grateful we are to them, and to try and aspire to be the perfect student. All of this for no financial reward or self gain…. because we want to!
However, I also respect my students. I respect them for turning up week after week to train in my class, some of them may lack confidence or have some kind of barrier for which they are trying to overcome, and to have trust in me to try and guide them as much as I possibly can.
So for me, respect must travel in both directions up and down the hierarchy of ranks, and indeed, both in and outside the class.
It is easy to 'turn on' this respect by acts of kindness when someone is watching, in order to try to impress.
But real respect is present at all times. These acts of kindness are because we genuinely want to help others and not just because someone who we want to impress is watching. So the question is, how do you really behave when no one is watching you?
To have respect for one self is healthy and forms part of our confidence. Tipping the scales too much though and we become arrogant so continual 'check ups' on our ego are required. Providing our bodies with the fuel it deserves, the training it needs and listening to it when injuries are stirring. Recognising limitations but then working harder to defeat them. To identify these limits but then to not act on them may greatly reduce progression.
So I guess the difference between someone who 'does' Martial Arts and a Martial Artist is that respect for all must be adopted as a lifestyle arrangement.
Which one are you?