Respect in Martial Arts - Georgia Kenpo

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Respect in Martial Arts

Articles > GM Pat Munk's Articles

Respect and Traditions
of the
Martial Arts
Pat Munk, Judan
10th Degree Black Belt

Why is it that there is so little understanding and respect for traditions of the Martial Arts?

I believe that the commercial direction that the Martial Arts have taken is the reason that questions of rank, the Junior/Senior questions keep popping up. Why do I say that, well it's because there are way too many 2 year wonders, kids under 10, 12, or even 16 that are Black Belts or even high ranking Black Belts that were never taught the traditions in the Martial Arts, or the importance of respect for those that have come before them.

The McDojo's have done more to hurt the Martial Arts than just promoting those who aren't qualified to hold the rank given. They are so caught up in the making of money and don't care for the principles or standards that have been attributed to the Martial Arts for Centuries.

Anyone who thinks that a 10 year old is mature enough to understand what it means to be a Black Belt or even capable of using the art they learned to successfully defend themselves, deserves about as much respect as the 10 year old holding the rank, and that's not much.

We have forgotten what loyalty to our Seniors is all about. All I see out there is who's got what rank, and/or I'm higher ranked than so and so, so there is nothing I can learn from them. The, I've gotten better than my instructor so it's time to move on.

Regardless of what style you study or look at you'll see many many students trying to study more than one system at the same time. Some of these styles being studied don't work well together.

Am I saying that you shouldn't be the best you can be and study more than one style of Martial Arts?

No I'm not saying that. If an instructor is no longer available for one reason or another, or if the instructor is found to not be giving the student what they expect then one should be able to continue his search for an instructor that will fit his needs. BUT if that isn't the case then before starting to study another system a student out of respect for his instructor and traditions of the system should only study another system ONLY after getting approval from his Instructor.

An Instructor that truly has the best interest in his students in mind will help his students get the training that will best blend with what is being taught/learned at his school.

Karate or The Martial Arts isn't something just to learn so we can compete in tournaments, or just for self-defense. It's something that must be lived, a way of life, and in some cultures a religion. Treating the Martial Arts as anything else is disrespectful to the arts.

Making the Martial Arts a sport has done more to diminish the art we all say we love than anything else. We have gone from an art of respect and discipline to one of win at all cost… and if I didn't win I was cheated. This attitude I've seen all too many times.

Let's all try and learn what it means to become a Black Belt. Show the respect deserved to those that have gone on before us and even to those who surpass us in rank. We should be respectful of someone who has higher rank than we do, even if we don't agree with the rank given or reasons why the rank was given. Deserved or not in our opinions. But at the same time those that surpass us in rank must always show the respect to us if we are senior to them, meaning we obtained Shodan first.

There are lots of Shodans out there that never wanted to obtain higher rank than Shodan. That doesn't make them junior to anyone who obtains Shodan after them no matter what rank the latter reaches. Just because someone doesn't attain a higher rank than Shodan doesn't diminish the status earned once reaching Shodan.

My Brother was my first Shodan. He will always be my first Shodan. He has no desire to get any rank higher. He isn't my highest ranking black belt but he is the most senior black belt I've promoted, and none of the black belts I've promoted to higher ranks can take that away from him.

Some people can't distinguish between someone being a senior black belt and a higher ranked black belt. There is a difference.

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