If you just came in off the street and sat down at Aikido of Nebraska, you would probably say to yourself that the students say “thank you” to the instructor and to each other a ridiculous number of times. Why does anyone need to do that? Is it some power-game of the instructor? Some constant need of the students to stroke their self-esteem?
I find that I myself say “thank you” much more than I used to in everyday life. Yes it can be a non-thinking habit, little more than any other habit that you do mindlessly, such as brushing your teeth, or hitting the turn-signal. But for me, saying “thank you” is still in the forefront of my mind. It reminds me that I live in a society that does a vast amount for me personally everyday. It reminds me that everyday people do things for me that they didn’t necessarily have to do. If I have any success in life, it is a result of finding that success through other people.
In martial arts training, people train to get certain benefits for themselves, but at least at our dojo, they help others as part of their training. Thus, it is important to say “thank you” for every last thing another person does for you. They did not have to give to you; or they did not have to give to the extent they did. Saying “thank you” for all these “gifts” makes you realize of the thousands of little things that people do for you every day- whether you pay for them or not. It allows the student to gain 2 new character traits; 1)Humility, and 2) Gratefulness – character traits which will go a long ways to having a happy life.