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#343600 - 05/23/07 10:42 PM Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill
MA_Student Offline

Registered: 10/29/06
Posts: 29
I'm an orange belt in my school. Now in my school, discpline is almost a non-factor. The majority of students do not bow to higher belts as they should, nor do they address them as sir or anything that shows a simple sign of respect.

One time during sparring, I was sparring a student who was considerably younger than me, but one belt higher at purple. He was probably 11 if not younger, and I'm almost 19. After we sparred I told him he did good. And he replied, "thank you sir". Now "sir" is a term that is used as a sign of respect to a higher belt. This caught me off gaurd as I'm not used to this. So I simply replied, "don't call me that, I should be calling you sir."

Now we get to my main point. This student called me sir and he shouldn't have to, because he is a higher belt. However, at the same time his skills do not reflect the belt that he has and my skills have surpassed his level. Should I still be calling him sir?

Because yes, he has a belt that is higher than mine, but he doesn't have the mentality or skills to reflect that belt.

Do people understand my question? Cause I certainly have no idea how to phrase it

#343601 - 05/23/07 11:00 PM Re: Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill [Re: MA_Student]
clmibb Offline

Registered: 08/31/06
Posts: 1035
Loc: South Texas, US
I think I understand your situation. Basically who should be calling who "sir". IMO it doesn't really matter. If the kid is wanting call you sir then let him. Technically you are an adult, get used to it. I've been refered to as Miss (insert last name here) since I was 17. I show everyone in my class the same respect they show me. If I have our 10 year old green belt asking me a question (Ma'am does the block go like this or like this?) then I'll respond with a simple "Yes sir the first way you did it was correct." "Ok. Thank you, ma'am." "You are quite welcome, sir." To me it doesn't matter who calls who sir or ma'am as long as there is mutual respect.

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."- Ronald Reagan

#343602 - 05/23/07 11:17 PM Re: Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill [Re: clmibb]
pepto_bismol Offline
infinite kudos

Registered: 03/04/06
Posts: 480
Who cares? Are you going to karate school to train or to practice for a good old tea party?

People get to wrapped up on needing to be bowed to and having their ego stroked in various ways. I address the black belts as sir or mam only because it is a rule, and I bow to them because it is required.

I didn't join karate with the intention of making friends or gaining respect. Seriously, if somebody calls you sir... it's not like there asking a fat chick if she's pregnant.

Take it as a compliment or ignore it. I really couldn't care less if lower belts formally address me.

btw, people gain my respect by being cool or nice to me. A little bit of kindness can go a long way with me. An alternate way of gaining a differant kind of respect is if they are awesome in sparring.

But if they are older, a higher rank, mean or some kind of egomaniac... they better be awesome at sparring. Otherwise I could care less about them.

I could be weird in that way, but I feel connected with my wrestling partners, my karate sparring partners. The better the match, the more respect.

With Much Respect,
Sir Pepto Bismol the Uber Great one
YAY pepto bismol! No... not... kryptonite

#343603 - 05/24/07 01:08 AM Re: Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill [Re: pepto_bismol]
MA_Student Offline

Registered: 10/29/06
Posts: 29
I agree with both actually. If he wants to call me that I should let him.
As for the second post, I only do it because it's required. Well... not required but expected. But then once the higher belts have become friends with you they tell you to stop because the respect is already there.
And even though I'm still a pretty low belt, I greet kindness with kindness. And humility garners respect.


#343604 - 05/24/07 01:12 AM Re: Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill [Re: pepto_bismol]
JM2007 Offline

Registered: 04/30/07
Posts: 37
Loc: San Antonio, TX

In my opinion, there is never anything wrong with someone showing respect. In fact, it should be encouraged at all times. It doesn't matter what age, belt, or skill level, everyone should still be shown respect, especially if they are training in the martial arts.

When you are speaking in specific terms of who should address who as "sir" in this case, the only answer I can give is that it depends on your school. In my school, for instance, all children address all adults as sir or ma'am irregardless of rank or skill. All students address all black belts as sir or ma'am (but you must be a minimum of age 16 to test for black belt). Adults are not asked to address a young child who may, for instance, be one belt rank higher, as sir or ma'am, but they are still expected to show them respect and courtesy. That is expected of all students, to all other students. Senior students or beginning students, it doesn't matter, everyone is treated with courtesy and respect...just maybe not addressed as sir or ma'am.

I realize that some people only say sir or ma'am and bow because they are told they have to...if that works for them, so be it. I have always found that if you genuinely do respect other people, and treat them that way, you'll find that many doors open that would otherwise be closed. As a side note, most people can easily tell when courtesy extended is genuine or forced, and respond in kind.

Although some people may disagree, in my opinion, karate and courtesy go hand in hand. Funakoshi Sensei said that "Karate begins and ends with courtesy." The best example I can give of this is, when I was in Japan, I was invited to train at a particular dojo where Americans were not normally turns out I had met a man on the military base where I was stationed, outside of any martial arts training, who I engaged in conversation with several times and was always very respectful towards. He turned out to be the Sensei of a local dojo, to my surprise. As we were talking one day and he asked why I was so interested in visiting different parts of Japan and learning about the culture, language, etc., I explained my interest in martial arts. He never indicated any association with a dojo or his own background, until quite a while later when he invited me to join him in training.

Please remember that every school is different, so make sure you ask a senior student at your school about what is appropriate. But I think most people will agree that courtesy should always be present.

I hope my little tirade was helpful. Respectfully, Jason

Edited by JM2007 (05/24/07 01:14 AM)

#343605 - 05/28/07 02:28 AM Re: Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill [Re: JM2007]
Leonine Offline

Registered: 07/23/05
Posts: 191
Personally, I have mixed feelings on this subject. Given that I both instruct and train, I get to see both ends of the spectrum.

I feel that children should be saying their sir's and ma'am's to whoever is leading the class, simply because I don't think kids understand the difference between respect and admiration. Adults I feel should actually feel that respect and then choose to refer to higher belts as sir (although from my school only black belts get the title). For instance, when I first started teaching, my instructor made them call me sir, but I never enforced it with them. For awhile they didn't call me that, simply responding or thanking me for my help. But now they've taken to calling me it again, which I feel is much better than if I had forced them to do so.

So, to summarize; respect is something that should be earned and if you pay too much attention to it, I feel you may be missing the forest for the trees, but that's just me.

#343606 - 05/29/07 01:59 AM Re: Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill [Re: Leonine]
MA_Student Offline

Registered: 10/29/06
Posts: 29
yea... my personal opinion is that yes it does need to be earned...

I don't expect people to call me sir, I just expect a general sense of respect that should not just be shown to higher belts, but everybody in general. Bowing to me is a way to preserve the art in a sense.

Respect does need to be earned. Especially because my master runs his school in more of a mcdojo kinda way...

#343607 - 05/29/07 04:08 PM Re: Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill [Re: MA_Student]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
It's few and far between that a young man has that much respect for his elder. His parent must have tought him well you don't see it that much anymore. I tell students that when "you walk through that dojo door it another world in here and you must obey our etiquette rules". Once in a while there are some that don't need to be told and it's such a pleasure.
The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

#343608 - 05/29/07 11:58 PM Re: Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill [Re: schanne]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
This is part of the documentation I give my students:

Value the people who train with you. Instill in yourself a respect for them, and in your students a respect for each other. Life's journey is long, but the skills of living are important, and meant to be shared. Living correctly is more important than being important, for only through living correctly can we become important.

Seven Principles of Bushido
Gi Right Decision, Right Attitude, Truth, Rectitude
Yu Bravery, tinged with heroism
Jin Universal Love, Benevolence toward mankind
Rei right Action, courtesy
Makoto Utter sincerity, Truthfulness
Melyo Honor and Glory
Chugo Devotion, Loyalty

Uphold those principles, and the physical part of martial arts will come to you.

What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

#343609 - 05/30/07 04:07 AM Re: Respect In terms of age, belt, and skill [Re: wristtwister]
puffadder Offline

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 250
Loc: UK
At the end of the day it comes down to the guy who runs the school sets the rules. Some are very hot on discipline, respect for elders, etiquette and so on. Others not so and prefer students to have their own self discipline and earn the respect of others. I'm not sure if one way is better than the other but I wouuld think a school that teaches children would need to be hotter on the discipline and respect than an adult only school. My school is adult only and have never had a problem in this area. Also Japanese schools tend to be a lot hotter on correct protocol than traditional Chinese ones.

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