Give It to Get It

Respect, as they say, isn’t given.  It is earned.  But to earn it, you have to show it.

Respect is one of the six life skills taught in the ATA Leadership Program and is also the life skill for July and August.  Like the other life skills, respect is developed and shown in different ways and is comprised of different principles.  But the primary thing, as with most important goals in martial arts and elsewhere in life, is that to develop and earn respect you have to work at it the way you work at perfecting your technique on the mat.

“Just like we teach martial arts forms, we teach our students how to properly kick and punch with practical applications,” said Master Nathan Carroll from IXL Martial Arts in Lees Summit, Mo.  “We also teach practical applications for the life skills like respect for our students to demonstrate with their parents, teachers and in all parts of their life.” 

The ATA Leadership manual explains that “Respect is not what you know, it’s what you do.”  It’s nine principles include trust, caring, courtesy, acceptance, kindness, confidence, listening, loyalty, and adequate communication. 

Not surprisingly, those principles overlap with some of the other life skills taught in the ATA Leadership Program.  Complementary principles comprise the building blocks of a good leader’s character.

“The ATA Leadership Program provides instructors and students with excellent guidelines to explain the life skills, because everyone learns a little differently,” said Carroll.  “It’s great because the parents and students can stay engaged.  We, as instructors, explain our message and then the materials from the Training Division magnify what we are teaching.” 

Each day a person experiences numerous opportunities to actively show respect for themselves, for others, for society and for the world. 

Respect for oneself is seen when an individual makes decisions that are good for them, taking care of one’s physical well-being and making good choices.  Keeping in shape through martial arts and learning the mental disciplines of the sport help to enhance that self respect.  A person with self respect takes care in their appearance, expressions and eye contact and will also make choices that reflect the teachings of parents and mentors rather than easily giving in to peer pressure.

“We are the bridge between the parents and the students,” Carroll said.  “We take what we teach and apply it to everyday life.”

Carroll also explained how great it is to see students demonstrate this life skill in every way from obeying laws to helping out in class. 

Respect for institutions is a demonstration of respect for society.  Knowing the rules and obeying them, especially when visiting other places, following cultural traditional and being courteous are all ways to show respect for one’s society and creates a habit that can be carried over when approached with different situations.

This leads to an understanding and respect for our world.  To become a leader is to take the initiative in trying to make the world a better place.  Whether picking up litter, taking part in a food drive or volunteering at a shelter, a good leader learns about the world around them and finds way to be respectful of it. 

“As an ATA student, you are learning how to respect other people and how to get that respect back,” Carroll said.

Sometimes Carroll said students are more willing to learn life lessons from their instructors because “We get to be cool!  We’re the guys who wear ‘pajamas’ and are ninjas who kick and punch.”  But he said, if respect is going to be learned, student have to take their lessons home and demonstrate respect far beyond the ATA classroom walls. 

“To be a great leader, practice your life skills everywhere you go—even at home too,” Carroll said.  He says that just by being a martial artist, you are showing a willingness to improve yourself.  “When teachers and parents are on the same page, respect is going to happen.”

“As instructors, we get to have a little bit of influence.  But when parents repeat what you say, that’s the best environment and will make respect an easy task to accomplish.” 



Author: Todd Traub

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