L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Kids Blog - October to February 2020/2021: Courtesy #1
The Bushido Value for this cycle is Courtesy. You already know what it means – being polite – but you might not know why it’s important for a warrior to be courteous.
During Samurai days, it was for safety. When you were with a group of armed people who are good at fighting it was important to keep them from getting angry with each other. If they got angry with each other and started to fight, some of them would probably die. Warrior cultures all over the world, including the Samurai, developed rules of how to talk with each other and how to act so those fights wouldn’t happen.
That’s less important today because fights happen less often and even warriors don’t carry weapons around all the time. In modern martial arts practice, courtesy is important for two reasons:
It helps you get along with people. Saying “Please” and “Thank You” or holding the door for people, and using a polite voice in conversation, are all ways to show people you want to get along. It does a lot of good and helps make new friends and keep the old ones.
It’s one of the best ways to practice discipline every day. Discipline is the foundation that builds great martial artists, helps you get good grades, and supports the life you want to live when you’re an adult. Courtesy is sometimes hard, and being courteous when it’s hard builds your discipline “muscle” the same way pushups build the muscles in your arms.
Remember how we just said that practicing courtesy builds discipline? Here are some ways you can practice being courteous every day. Building this habit will be harder than learning your next kata, and probably a little less fun. But once you’ve built this habit, it will do you more good in your life than all the katas you will ever learn.
1. Look people in the eye (or at their nose if eye contact freaks you out a little) when you talk with them.
2. Say “Please” when you ask for something, every time.
3. Say “Thank you” when somebody gives you something or does something for you, every time.
4. Say “You’re welcome” when somebody says “Thank you” to you
5. Practice doing small favors – like giving up your seat on the bus and holding doors for people – whenever you get the chance. Remember number four (above) when thanked.
6. Try to ask people two questions about themselves for every one thing you say about you.
7. Get in the habit of complimenting people at least once every time you speak to them.
Always return a greeting. When somebody says “Hello”, say “Hello” back.
Pay attention to how people act in formal situations, and imitate the people who seem to be the most courteous.
If you’re feeling angry or silly, count to ten before saying what you have in mind. Later during this testing cycle, you’ll have a chance to practice these and other courtesy challenges. For now, just think about them and look for opportunities to exercise your courtesy muscles.
Teaching courtesy is one of the biggest challenges parents face, for three reasons:
Courtesy isn’t really a defined set of rules. It’s complex, and situational, making it tricky to model and teach.
Courtesy isn’t well-supported in media and daily life. People, especially people on TV, are rewarded more for being funny, cynical and snarky than for sincere politeness.
Courtesy doesn’t come easy to us as parents, especially when our kids are being discourteous.
We talked to a few experts on teaching courtesy to kids and found a handful of great dos and don’ts.
Do ask your child for her opinion when the opportunity to do a small kindness, like holding a door or giving up a seat, appears.
Don’t show anger when your child isn’t courteous. It’s hard to be courteous when you’re angry.
Do eat dinner as a family whenever possible. This is the best chance for you to model and for your kids to practice basic polite conversation, and courtesy cornerstones like Please, Thank You and complimenting people.
Don’t push too hard for young and shy children to make eye contact and return “hellos.” Most experts agree that pushing when they’re very young just delays their development into somebody who does so easily later on.
Do role-play practice courtesy for particular situations with your child, so they know what’s expected and have done it at least once before they put it into practice.
As always, remember that the teaching staff at AIK are here to help you with this just as much as we with technique knowledge and bully advice. We’re not perfectly courteous all the time, but we can promise to give our best.
L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Kids Blog - October to February 2020/2021: Courtesy #2
Last month we learned about courtesy and why it’s an important part of the Bushido Values and the life of a martial artist and warrior. We especially looked at how courtesy is a kind of exercise for your mind.
Practicing regular acts of courtesy is a way of building a positive habit. Positive habits are healthy things you do automatically, without thinking about it. The positive habit of courtesy will help make others feel safe and help you develop a group of positive friends who can help you have a better life.
Experts say building a positive habit takes about three weeks of regular practice -- round that up to a month to make room for mistakes and forgetting. That means that if you work your hardest to practice one courteous habit every day this month, by the end of the month it will probably be something you do automatically.
Your assignment for this month is to choose one simple act of courtesy and do it all the time, every day. Choose from the list below, or work with your teacher and parents to come up with your own:
Say “Please” and “Thank You” when asking for and receiving things
Say “Excuse Me” if you need to speak when others are talking
Hold the door open for people if they’re using the same door as you
Whenever you’re talking with somebody, ask two questions about them for every statement you make about yourself
Say “I’m sorry” if you accidentally bump into somebody
Cover your mouth when you cough, sneeze or yawn
Once you’ve chosen your Courtesy Habit for the month, make a chart using construction paper, a journal or a whiteboard. For each day, give yourself a Smiley Face, a Frowny Face or a Flat Face:
Smiley Faces are for days when you observed your Courtesy Habit all of the time, or most of the time
Flat Faces are for days when you observed your Courtesy Habit about half of the time
Frowny Faces are for days when you observed your Courtesy Habit only occasionally, or not at all
You don’t have to be perfect every day to develop a positive habit. In fact, simply keeping track of how you did will almost always mean you do better on average over time. Your job is never to be perfect. It’s to know how you’re doing right now, and to work toward doing better with each new day.
Get your parents’ help with making your chart, and with filling it in each day. They can also help you choose your Courtesy Habit, since they watch you every day and know the places you’re doing great and the places you could improve. Be sure to tell your Instructor at the karate school about your habit, too, so he or she can help you look for opportunities to practice.
Bonus points for challenging some of your friends at school do do this project with you.
We have a Courtesy Habit for our parents to develop this month as well, and boy is it a doozey.
We here at American Institutes of Kenpo in Tucson dare you -- no, we double-dog dare you -- to make it a courtesy habit to be courteous when reminding your child about courtesy.
Most parents (and that includes our instructors on bad days) tend to be downright rude when reminding their children to be courteous. They use aggressive tones of voice, interrupt their child when the child is talking, use threats instead of reasoned argument, and often intentionally belittle the person they’re speaking with. Not everybody does this all the time, and usually it’s not on purpose.
But it is counterproductive. The best way to teach courtesy to our kids is to demonstrate being courteous through our own actions.
We set up the Courtesy Habit challenge as a family exercise to give you and your child an opportunity to discuss courtesy in a positive, courteous way each day. If you accept our dare (you know what? let’s make it a triple-dog dare) you’ll not only be encouraging courtesy in your child by participating in the project, you’ll be demonstrating courtesy at the same time. Kids pay attention, and parents who lead by example generally get better results.
As always, our staff is here to help you in any way you need with the Courtesy Habit Challenge or anything else.
L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Kids 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 a few of our Defense & Attack Kenpo Keywords, to help you remember what each technique is.
AIK Defense Keywords
Echoed - we do the the opponent what he tried to do to us
Northern - we step forward
Rotating - we turn from side to side
Hammering - we use hammer fist strikes
AIK Attack Keywords
Claw - the opponent grabs your wrist
Ram - the opponent throws a right punch
Honor - the opponent gives you a mean handshake
Surrender - the opponent gets you in a full nelson
L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Kids Blog - October to February 2020/2021: Courtesy #4
Your next belt promotion is coming, which means there’s a lot for you do to make sure you’re ready. It’s your job to show up on testing day fully prepared to give the best test you can. It’s not your parents’ job, of your sisters’ and brothers’. This is up to you.
To make sure you’re ready, follow this checklist in the weeks before the test. Write it down and post it someplace you can see it so you remember to work a little extra every single day.
Confirm with your Instructor that you are ready to test
Invite your parents and other important people to come see the test
Finish your Courtesy project (see below)
Practice all of your material by yourself three times
Practice all of your material in front of somebody else one time
Make sure your uniform is clean
Arrive on test day fifteen minutes early
Have a Great test
Besides that, like with each testing cycle it’s also your job to complete your Bushido Challenge for the Bushido Value of this testing phase: Courtesy. For this time, your challenge will be to to you perform a Courtesy Experiment.
You’ve heard of experiments in science class, or on TV, but you might not know what an experiment really is. An experiment is when you do two (or more) different things in the world or in a lab, and pay attention to the different effects of those different things. In this case, you’ll spend two days using different levels of courtesy.
On day one: do everything the way you normally do. Use “please” and “thank you” as much as you do on a regular day. Open doors when you regularly would. Say “sir” and “ma’am” when you normally would. Just have a regular day. That night, talk with your parents about how other people treated you.
On day two: spend the whole day looking for extra ways to be courteous. Hold doors. Say “please” and “thank you.” Compliment people on their smile, or a good job. Look at peoples’ eyes when you talk with them. Basically, use the courtesy you would in the dojo everywhere, all day long. That night, talk with your parents about how other people treated you throughout that day.
Some time in the week before your test, speak with one of the coaches at AIK about your experience. Tell them how it felt to be “normal courteous” and “Bushido courteous.” Tell them how adults treated you, and how other children treated you. Talk with your coach about your experience with this assignment, and anything you discovered from your experiment. You may also draw a picture that depicts what you experince when showing Courtesy.
It can be extremely tempting during this assignment to “play up” your reaction on your child’s extra courtesy day. But don’t give in to this temptation. Remember: kids are smart and observant, and they will notice the change in your behavior. This assignment is a great opportunity to let your child see the impact of her choices, so as much as you can just react as you normally would when receiving the extra courtesy.