Respect & Understanding is Key

Respect & Understanding is Key

I had a guy come up to me and ask who the sensei was at my school. I introduced myself as such, to his surprise. Not sure if I’m just casual and unassuming or if his surprise was because I’m a woman. I look like any other average middle aged Mom out there.

He asked me if I knew anyone in town who teaches Bruce Lee’s style. I said I didn’t. He asked if many people have criticized what we do (as a family Tae Kwon Do school) as being fake martial arts. He wasn’t being blatantly disrespectful, just asking a question and having an open and friendly conversation. I wasn’t threatened or insulted, because I don’t see my style as “better than” others. It’s different, not better nor worse. Comparing styles is a slippery slope of disrespect and misunderstanding of purpose. So, I didn’t answer his question directly, but expressed it in this way.

My school is not focused on every technique as it applies to “the mechanics of the fight”. It’s not all about self defense and fighting. Yes we learn basic self defense. Yes we spar. school specializes in focusing on the whole person through the martial arts experience. We love the value of the performance side of martial arts for the focus, confidence, coordination, physical fitness and athleticism it develops. We love the value of tournament sparring for improving reflex and overcoming fear. We love the value of basic and simple self defense technique for the every day person to walk with confidence in their every day interactions. We love teaching children how to use their voice to advocate for themselves and how to use their body should they need to with bullies. We love pushing individuals to become their best selves and overcome fears by persevering and pushing beyond their own limiting beliefs. All of this benefit transfers and synthesizes into one’s life outside the dojo. Mostly, we love the development of a respectful family community who supports one another with honesty and friendship.

After concluding our conversation I referred the guy to a friend’s dojo up the street (whose daughter once attended my dojo). He does private training and has experience in a wider variety of styles than I do. One that more fits the mold of what the man was looking for. Not better, nor worse. Just different. Everyone has a place and a purpose. Understanding that is at the highest level of respect for others - an example that I am constantly aspiring to demonstrate with excellence.

~ Master Karen Conover is a 5th Degree Black Belt & Owner of KC's

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