L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Seniors Blog - October to February 2020/2021: Courtesy #1
Let’s talk a little bit about courtesy. As an adult, you already know what it means. You already know why it’s important. But let’s look at how it evolved as a martial arts value and what it can do for you in your day-to-day life.
It probably started as a way to keep samurai alive. In any group of young men, tempers run hot. If those young men are given swords and taught how to use them, those tempers become deadly. They had to find a way to turn soldiers into warriors, which is what an ethical code does. Courtesy was one way to keep the tempers in line.
A century or so later, dojos were part of every major city and could be huge moneymakers...and if a student were to defeat or kill a head teacher, he then became the head teacher. Many of the bowing-in ceremonies are the way they are to make students more vulnerable than the teacher at the beginning and end of class. Military structure similarly used visible observances of courtesy to enforce discipline and establish routines, for the safety of both the officers and the rank-and-file troops.
This development isn’t unique to the Samurai, or even to Eastern martial cultures. Almost every warrior culture in the history of human society has a set of strictly observed courtesies designed to prevent deadly flares of anger, and to protect the structure of that society.
It’s a kinder, gentler world today...but courtesy is no less important to a warrior’s life. It makes your life better in three important ways:
1. Like in days of old, it makes your world less violent. This applies to both actual violence a poorly-timed remark can bring on, and to “emotional violence” of living in a space where personal attacks and unintentional slights are part of your environment. By simply being courteous, you create a sphere of more pleasant behavior around you.
2. It helps you get what you need. Your grandmother was right: saying “please” and “thank you” motivate people to go out of their way for you. This isn’t the most selfless reason to observe a bushido value, but it’s an important reality.
3. The third reason is more complex, and probably the most important. Being courteous is hard. It requires attention to detail, attention to others’ emotional states, self-control when you feel tired or offended. If you practice being courteous on a daily basis, especially in those situations where courtesy is hard, it builds your discipline.
If the Code of Bushido is an engine of growth and personal power, discipline is its fuel. Every opportunity you have to practice it builds you as a martial artist and as a warrior...and courtesy gives you opportunities almost every waking moment.
One of the tricky aspects of courtesy is that it’s a moving target. What’s perfectly acceptable having a meal with friends would be rude at Thanksgiving dinner with family. Looking one friend in the eye is courteous, while looking a different friend in the eye makes him uncomfortable. Formal speech and etiquette is important with some people, and actually insulting with others.
This makes courtesy one of the values that interacts most with other Bushido Values. You can use the values of Discernment and Compassion as guides for how to act when you’re not sure what’s actually courteous in a particular situation. Discernment can help you observe what others want or are feeling, to best know how to observe Courtesy for that person. Compassion makes you more open to the small signs that tell you whether you’ve made the right observation and choice in that department.
In short, courtesy is one of the best tools you can have in your lifetime toolbox. It’s up to you to keep it sharp and well-maintained.
The staff here at AIK is here to help you any time you need it, in as courteous a way as we can.
L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Seniors Blog - October to February 2020/2021: Courtesy #2
Last month we looked at some of the history of courtesy as a Bushido Virtue, and how courtesy can help you in your martial arts, career, relationships and life. One important aspect of that exploration was how courtesy is nice for courtesy’s sake, but it’s also a highly powerful tool for developing your personal discipline and attention to detail.
This month, we would like you to take on an assignment to apply courtesy to exactly that purpose. Your mission, which we encourage you to accept, is to log 100 random acts of senseless courtesy.
A Random Act of Senseless Courtesy (RASC) is an intentional, unusual act of courtesy that others notice because it stands out. Some examples of RASCs include:
Dashing ahead of somebody for the express purpose of holding a door
Offering to help a stranger carry a heavy load
Making meaningful small talk with your waitress or the checkout guy at the store
Asking “How are you?” and meaning it, following up with additional questions
Meeting aggressive or rude behavior with sincere, cheerful politeness
Leaving a break room or other shared space cleaner than you found it
We’re sure you can come up with other examples on your own. The key is to be courteous in (a) places you wouldn’t normally be that courteous, (b) in ways that others notice and might learn from your example. You’ll also find that looking for them usually turns up far more opportunities than you would expect.
At 100 RASCs per month, you need to perform three per day to meet your goal. Keep track of your RASCs in a journal. Its format is up to you. It can be a diary where you write details of each event, a spreadsheet with 100 lines to fill in, a blog or Twitter feed, or a whiteboard in your office. How you keep track of your RASCs isn’t important. What’s important is that you keep track. It’s important for several reasons:
Keeping track of a thing you want to do makes you more likely to do it regularly. It keeps the behavior (in this case your RASCs) in your front-of-mind awareness.
Successfully filling in your journal is a way of celebrating your success. Even if you fall behind, each entry to put in is like checking off a box on your to-do list.
You can use this method for other things, whether it’s breaking a negative habit or a new practice you want to take on. Using it with Courtesy lets you practice and learn how to build the behaviors you want.
It can keep you cheerful with a consistent reminder of how well you’re doing on a challenging personal goal. Cheerfulness can mean motivation both for your other RASCs and for other things you’re working on during the day.
Check in with your instructors each week with your progress on your RASCs and your favorite RASC thus far. That will help you keep on track, and give you a chance to ask for help if you’re falling behind. Remember throughout this experience that it’s not just about Courtesy...it’s about how practicing Courtesy will grow you as a martial artist and as a person.
L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Seniors 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: To 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