The 8 Tenets of the Aikido Student – Courtesy (Rei)

This article is part of a  8-part series  on the Samurai Code for Modern Times.

” Samurai have no reason to be cruel.  They do not need to prove their strength.  A Samurai is courteous even to his enemies.  Without this outward show of respect, we are nothing more than animals. A Samurai is not only respected for his strength in battle, but also by his dealings with other men.  The true strength of a Samurai becomes apparent by showing his character during difficult times.”

My students will tell you that they receive training on courtesy and etiquette ad nauseam!  Why? Because I believe that martial arts schools are one of the last places in our society where manners, etiquette, and courtesy can be taught.  I also believe that courtesy and manners can vastly change your life, and it costs you almost nothing.  How often can you get a deal like that any more?

I learned about courtesy the hard way when traveling in Europe. My friend went up to a person and said “Where is the plaza?” The person turned their back on us, and only after several tries on different people did we understand that the proper protocol was “Hello, how are you? And your family? Excuse me please, but can you tell me where the plaza is located?” Otherwise, they would not give us the time of day. We were “Ugly Americans” because had no basic manners when greeting people.

More often than not, we demonstrate a lack of courtesy when we feel we are entitled, or when we want to badger or belittle people into doing what we want.  It’s a power struggle – we don’t feel confident that our argument will carry, so we try to intimidate others to make ourselves feel better.  The person you belittle, however, will retaliate in some petty fashion, be it a rude retort, making you wait in line as long as possible, or spitting on your hamburger.

How different would life be if we were actually courteous, and got the other person on our side, because we treated them with respect? you already know the answer; pleasant conversation, getting through the line fast, and no spit on the hamburger.

As I mentioned in another article, people are so programmed nowadays to expect you to bicker, complain and whine, that they are stunned when you are courteous.  And, the next time they need or want something, who will they choose?   The guy who treated them like crap? No, the one who sticks out in their memory as being pleasant/mannered.

So would you like to increase the results of whatever you do in life? Great, just keep doing it, and add exceptional courtesy. It costs very little, but it will get you to stand out in the crowd.

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