L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Juniors Blog - October to February 2020/2021: Courtesy #1
Sometimes it’s hard to be courteous. We’re not going to spend a lot of time repeating what your parents, grandparents and teachers have already told you about manners. You already know that stuff.
But what a lot of parents, grandparents, teachers and other mentors don’t go into if why courtesy is important in life. There are two species of reasons for this:
Reasons courtesy is important for everybody.
Reasons courtesy is especially important for warriors.
Courtesy is important for everybody because…
Courtesy is a shorthand way of telling the people around you that you care about them.
Courtesy makes it easier to get what you need by making it easier for others to want to give you what you need.
Courtesy helps you think about the small details of everything you do by pushing you to focus on the small details of one kind of thing you do.
Courtesy makes your reputation and the reputation of your mentors and elders stronger.
Courtesy can help another person’s day be better even accidentally.
Courtesy is especially important for warriors because…
Warriors are powerful. It’s your responsibility as a warrior to have above-average regard for people less powerful than you are.
Warriors can stop bullying simply by being courteous and leading by example.
Warriors have a bad reputation with people who don’t really understand what a warrior is. Being courteous around those people can help the reputation of warriors and martial arts worldwide.
Warriors can be dangerous when they lose their temper. Practicing courtesy is a way of practicing keeping your temper, and it can help other warriors keep theirs by not giving them provocation.
Another way to look at it is to imagine society as an engine. Your school is a part of that engine, and so is the line at the grocery store. The engine of society has a lot of moving parts that bump into each other. Courtesy is the engine oil that prevents friction and breakdowns of that engine. The more you do your part, the better the engine works for everybody.
As a warrior, that’s your responsibility: keeping the engine working in places where it’s hard.
Parenting and courtesy and teens can be one of the toughest challenges of your role as a person in charge of the well-being and upbringing of another human being. You understand that it’s important. You understand why it’s important. But they don’t always make it easy, and they know exactly how to push your most sensitive buttons at exactly the wrong times.
So what can you do about it? The experts we’ve spoken with have three key points for parents to remember when teaching and reinforcing courtesy at home:
1. Set a clear baseline and enforce it. If the rules are not consistent from day to day, conversations about courtesy become debates about why a specific set of rules applies. Avoid the wasted energy and unnecessary conflict.
2. Make it okay to take a time out and leave the area to express anger, frustration or other intense emotions outside of the public eye. Everybody needs a safe way to vent instead of breaking courtesy in a bad moment. Make it okay for you to do the same, so you can model courtesy even under stress.
3. Do not take it personally when (not if) your children show more courtesy to everybody else than they do to you. This is natural, and part of your role as the unconditionally loving, safe adult in their lives.
As always, if you have any questions or trouble, the staff at AIK in Tucson is here for you and your family. In our experience, Courtesy is often one of the issues we can help the most with. For reasons we don’t entirely understand, these lessons come easier from outside the family than inside.
L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Juniors Blog - October to February 2020/2021: Courtesy #2
You already know what Courtesy is, how it’s an important part of the Bushido Values, and how it can help you build discipline by practicing something important each day. You already know how courtesy was important in the old days, and why it’s still important (but for different reasons) today. You already know how practicing courtesy is a way of exercising your mental muscles.
This month, you’re going to learn a kind of High-Intensity Training program for your mental muscles using Courtesy as the exercise. It will train you to master your emotions and your words the way practicing kata trains you to master your kicks, punches and blocks. It works like this:
Be courteous even when other people make it hard to be courteous.
That’s right. If somebody bumps into you, you be the one to say “Sorry. Are you all right?” If somebody is rude to you in conversation, be as polite as you can as you leave the conversation and go spend your time with more pleasant people. If you’re tempted -- even driven -- to vent frustration on a friend, parent, teacher or stranger...don’t. Be courteous instead.
This can be extremely difficult, especially for teenagers because teens have a whole mess of hormones running around inside them all the time (hormones are chemicals responsible for emotions, and having so much of them all up in your bloodstream can make courtesy hard). But do you know what? Handstand pushups are extremely hard. Learning Long Four is extremely hard.
“Hard” doesn’t mean “Impossible” and it really, really doesn’t mean “not worth doing.”
So your challenge for this month is to remember to be courteous even when it’s hard. Even when other people are being discourteous to you. Especially when other people are being discourteous to you.
Yes, this is a tall order. Here’s one idea that has always helped your instructors at AIK when it comes to being courteous in difficult situations. It comes from the book The Four Agreements:
Take Nothing Personally
The thing is, most people who are being rude aren’t being rude to you. Even people who are intentionally acting rude to you are almost never actually thinking about you at the time.
Somebody who bumps into you, or forgets to hold a door and closes it in your face, isn’t thinking of you. He’s thinking about something else, or he would have noticed you there.
Somebody who interrupts you in conversation isn’t thinking “Ha ha! I want to interrupt this person and spoil what he wants to say!” She’s thinking about how excited she is about the idea she wants to share.
Somebody who forgets to say “Thank You” doesn’t want to insult you after you did a favor (who would ever do that?). He’s so happy about what you did that he’s forgotten a detail.
Even somebody who’s intentionally rude to you isn’t usually thinking of you and aiming to ruin your day. She’s in a bad mood because of something somebody else did earlier in the day.
If you think about rudeness like that, it’s easier to choose to be courteous even when other people make different decisions. This doesn’t mean you have to spend lots of time around people who are consistently rude or mean to you. Just stay courteous when you have to be around them, and choose to spend your time with more polite people moving forward.
Courtesy and teenagers can be a tough mix, and a tough sell...especially since teens seem gifted with the ability to push exactly the right buttons in their parents to be as aggravating as possible. Many members of the leadership team at American Institutes of Kenpo have raised (or are raising) teens, so we feel your pain. We reached out to a variety of experts on the subject, and found these top ten tips for teaching teens courtesy without blowing your own top in the first process.
Set clear expectations about courtesy and manners for your home.
Live up to those expectations when you interact with your children and other adults in your home.
Take a long, slow breath if your teen is disrespectful or otherwise talks back. Use those seconds to remind yourself what you’re doing and why it’s important.
Don’t let yourself yell at or threaten your teen in response to discourtesy.
When your teen is discourteous, point out the discourtesy. Explain calmly how it breaks the expectations in your home about how people will treat one another. Ask for an apology and a second try.
Be confident and consistent about asking for courtesy in your home, and from your teen. It’s your right (and duty) as a parent to require good manners.
Be willing to have conversations after the fact about changes in expectations. As your teen grows into an adult, the dynamic of your relationship will change. It’s all right to alter the expectations to match those changes.
Have an agreed on “reset button” where both you and your teen take a break from each other when one or both of you is too angry to be courteous.
Make time to interact positively with your teen each day, so that your default conversations don’t revolve around courtesy and enforcing of the rules.
Remember that backtalk and disrespect are usually about the teen’s frustration, and not about her direct feelings about you.
Bonus tip: be courteous to yourself. When you make a mistake and lose your temper, don’t be harsh. Understand that you get to make mistakes just like your teen does. Take a moment to calm down and emotionally reset yourself, then come back to the conversation with an apology and a clear head.
As with all other things, we’re here to help. Don’t hesitate to ask a member of the AIK staff at any time.
L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Juniors Blog - October to February 2020/2021: Courtesy #3
Enrichment Topic: Kenpo Keywords
Kenpo has sometimes been called an “alphabet of motion.” Each basic is a letter. Each combination is a word. Each technique is a sentence. Kata are poems. In AIK, each technique has two words; the defense keyword and the attack keyword, in that order. If a technique has 3 keywords, the opponent is attacking with two different weapons or we have two attackers!
Let’s take a look at our Defense & Attack Kenpo Keywords, to help you remember what each technique is.
Tactical Movements - Initial step direction
Avoiding: Moving back the the left rear quadrant
Evading: moving back to the right rear quadrant
Eastern: Moving tot he right front quadrant
Northern: Moving forward
Southern: Moving Back
Western: Moving to the left front quadrant
Repositioning - Advantageous position change
Ascending: Upward maneuver
Circling: To maneuver over or on top of
Crossed: A maneuver that crosses
Descending: Downward maneuver
Rotating: A turning maneuver
Engagements Methods - Primary method used
Clashing: Meet force with force
Clutching: Pin the hand
Countering: Retaliate, a series of rapid strikes
Dominating: To gain control of the opponent
Echoed: Retaliate with a similar strike
Entwined: Two-handed wrapping hold
Escaping: Tp break free
Raking: To chamber or strike past our centerline
Redirected: To guide off center
Resisting: To stop fully before locked
Takedowns - likely to take the attacker down
Grounded: Full takedown from the front
Rooted: Buckling maneuver, potential takedown
Tripping: Full takedown from the back
Tools - Primary Strike, block or manipulation
Bracing: To use an X-block
Broken: To break or hyperextend a limb
Chopping: To use knife hand strikes
Crushing: To grab or impact with tremendous force and intention
Hammering: To strike with a hammer fist
Leveraged: To use a fulcrum
Shielding: To use an outward block
Strangling: To apply a chokehold
Grab & Tackle - An attempt to gain control
Claw: One-handed grab to the wrist
Talons: Two-handed grab to the wrist or wrists
Hawk: One-handed body grab from the front
Falcon: One-handed body grab from the flank
Eagles: Two-handed body grab from the front
Push - A forceful, shoving action
Palm: One-handed push
Palms: Two-handed push
Punch - A striking action using the knuckles
Horn: Left hand
Ram: Right hand
Kick - A striking action using the leg or foot
Lightning: Linear kick
Thunder: Rotational kick
Hold & Hug - A motion restricting action
Restraint(s): Hold from the back
Surrender: Full nelson
Lock & Choke - A painful, controlling action
Death: Two-handed choke
Vice: Headlock or forearm choke
Guard: Lock from the back
Vine: Lock to the wrist
Weapon - An action employing a weapon
L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Juniors Blog - October to February 2020/2021: Courtesy #4
Your rank test is coming up, which by now means you’ve practiced all your material enough times to give a crisp, accurate, ferocious demonstration on testing day. That’s the physical part of your test, and it’s important...but it’s not the only important aspect of your journey and progress as a martial artist.
As you know you also need to show you’ve been a good citizen at school and at home, and you need to complete your Bushido Assignment for the testing cycle. This cycle, we’ll be focusing on Courtesy. You’ve been practicing and thinking about Courtesy for four months now, and we’re sure you have lots of ideas about it. It’s time to put some of those ideas to work.
Your assignment for this testing cycle is to practice Extreme Courtesy in three situations. Extreme Courtesy is when you are as polite as you would be to your sensei or favorite grandparent to somebody who’s being rude, or dismissive, or even aggressive with you. Look for opportunities to practice Extreme Courtesy -- they’re not too difficult to find -- and make journal entries for each of them. Make some notes about what happened when you practiced extreme courtesy, and how the situation developed differently if you had instead responded another way.
Once you’ve finished your third journal entry, write a short paper about what happened and what you learned. Turn that paper in a few days before your test, and be ready to answer any questions your coaches have about your experience with this challenge.
One warning from your coaches about Extreme Courtesy. It’s easy to pretend to be courteous by saying polite words while using body language and voice tone that are everything except courteous. That is not practicing Extreme Courtesy. That’s being rude using courteous words. Extreme Courtesy is only real when you remain courteous with your words, voice and body. Be sincerely courteous in difficult situations and see what happens. You may be surprised.
Extreme Courtesy is a strange concept and worth trying yourself, but sometimes difficult for a teen or tween to fully grasp -- especially the difference between being insincerely (or sarcastically) courteous and being sincerely courteous to people who are being rude or disrespectful to you. A lot of the time it can fall uder the heading of “I can’t explain it, but I know it when I see it.”
If your child has any questions about the difference, TV and movies can be a good resource. Both kinds of courtesy show up in good shows, and you can watch them with your child and discuss the examples, and the differences between different characters. As always, our staff in Tucson is available to give suggestions or clarifications at any time.