A couple of years ago, I had to go into Best Buy to upgrade my phone. I was helped by a young man who looked to be about 25 at the oldest. While nothing out of the ordinary stuck out about him, he seemed to compose himself in specific manner that begged me to ask him “Are you prior military?” The answer was “Yes. I was in the Marines. How did you know?” The answer to the question was simple. They way he conducted himself showed he had some discipline and training that, even without thought, he executed through his speech and actions.
In the military we are taught at all times to uphold a specific decorum in or out of uniform. If this decorum is not upheld and, if it got back to our commanding officer or First Sergeant, best believe your life would be a living hell until they deemed that you have “found” the decorum you seemed to have lost. This same decorum is taught in our martial art classes as well. When you are in class, you are expected to behave a certain way. While, contrary to popular belief, sensei is not a drill instructor, he is one to keep control and oversee that a certain behavior is upheld during class. But what happens after class?
Simple, the type of behavior should carry over to life outside the dojo. When I traveled with our competition team we would have anywhere from 5 to 15 kids, sometimes more, that we would take out to eat during a tournament. These were talented kids ranging in the ages from 8 years—18 years old, but the biggest compliment we received about them was not how good they were in martial arts, but on their behavior. At a restaurant that we visited, we sat a group of 10 kids after an event. Needless to say they were talkative, and it was a bit loud, but not shouting and screaming. At the end of the dinner, the waitress came up to us and said “I’m going to be honest with you and say that I was not looking forward to this table because of all the kids, but these were the most polite kids and well behaved kids I have ever met. They said please and thank you and was very respectful. It was a pleasure serving you all.” To an instructor this is one of the biggest compliment we could receive. We all know how well our kids do inside a class setting and even inside a tournament setting, but to be complimented on that same respectful behavior in a non-martial art setting, is something we all strive for.
Just like in the military when you step outside of the confides of your dojo, you still represent everything that it stands for. How you act and how you speak reflects on your parents and your school. It is very important that you conduct yourself with the utmost respect towards yourself and everyone around you. This is a mark of a good student, but more than that a good leader. One of the main rules of leadership is lead by example. I was given some good advice on my first day of leave in the military by my commanding officer. “When you are out in public and you are about to do something silly, think to yourself this one thought, is what I’m about to do going to cause my CO to break his foot off in my (butt)?” Remember to be the example that makes your parents and your teachers proud.