Often times we take the English language and we “shift” the original meaning of a word and use it differently. One of the words we use seems to have completely lost its meaning. This is the word Practice. As a verb practice means to perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. It further means to carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.
For us we want to “Train on the mat and Practice in our daily lives.” In other words take the lessons we learn and apply them each day. For many this might create images of people going out every day and starting/ending fights. Punching, kicking, flipping and submitting people in order to practice their self-defense. Although the physical aspects of self-defense do require a lot of time to develop a level of proficiency in form and technique. These aspects truly are a small percentage of the knowledge and skills necessary to truly apply self-defense in our daily lives. They are only necessary when other methods of self-defense were not useful or were ignored by a potential assailant.
For example we work with all our students on “Attitudes.” We are currently working with a few in particular on “Respect.” Ideally, you would think showing respect to a figure of authority; i.e., parent, teacher, store owner, police, etc. a common aspect of our youth. Unfortunately, that is not the case. It seems that the concept “Respect must be earned” is very pervasive in our youth today.
In recent classes we have thrown out some questions to our younger students. “Would people tend to treat you better IF you showed them respect- initially without them having to ask for it or earn it?” Most have affirmed this to be a true consideration. However, in their daily practice they don’t tend do it. Thus creating a potential “attitude” of conflict. Creating a situation that may require self-defense strategies instead of planting the seeds of compassion and cooperation.
We all recognize that there is peer pressure and such. That being respectful at school can be looked down upon by the “group” of kids. Yes, together they are stronger than any one authority. However, it’s not just at school. It’s at stores, parks, movie theaters, etc. The practice of being respectful is dying in our culture. Even at homes, our youth today tend to not show simple gestures of respect. We are not saying that deep down they are not respectful, we are saying they “don’t practice it in their daily lives.” They don’t go out of their way to initiate the showing of respect until they are required to.
The challenge we have given to several students is simple. Merely respond with respect to figures of authority and “elders.” Respond with “Sir or Mam” say “yes or no” instead of “Yeah.” To speak clearly instead of half gestures. Their assignment is to try it for a week and see if there are changes in the way they get treated. Also, to see if it gets “easier” to do without thinking. That through their “practice” they get better at it and their actions become more effective. That they begin to create an environment that requires less need for physical self-defense aspects as they were already successful in non-physical strategies.
Please note– being respectful does not mean to acquiesce and give up one’s position. You can still not agree or comply but still be respectful. We might find it easier to be heard and have our opinions and needs understood IF we could present them in a more respectful manner.