Tag Archives: respect

The Difference Between Men And Animals

“Do not forget that karate begins and ends with rei.”

This is the first of twenty principles passed down from the father of modern day karate, Gichin Funakoshi. Funakoshi brought his Okinawan martial art of self-defense to mainland Japan, which contributed to its introduction to the rest of the world.

If you’re wondering what karate has to do with the difference between men and animals, stick with me. You’ll soon understand, Grasshopper.

Rei means respect. Respect for others and respect for ourselves.

We demonstrate this respect in karate class every time we bow…onto the dojo floor, to our sensei (teacher), or to our workout partner. The bow is a sign of esteem, respect and courtesy. The bow signifies our willingness to learn and our appreciation for being taught. It assures our partner of our desire to work together to advance both our training; we are not facing off in combat.

Though anyone can go through the motions and bow when they are supposed to and at all the correct times, if they do not have a sincere heart, they do not possess true rei. As it states in The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi, “True rei is the outward appearance of a respectful heart.”

In this book, Funakoshi guides us in the spiritual aspects of martial arts. Yes, contrary to what most American’s think, karate is much more than striking, punching, and kicking. Karate-do is a way of life. A philosophy. And these philosophies are not only meaningful in martial arts, but in our everyday lives. These principles encourage us to take a deeper look at ourselves, at how we live and how we treat those around us.

By now I’m sure you’ve made the connection between the title and the blog post.  Only man can show respect and courtesy. Funakoshi’s book states, “The difference between men and animals lies in Rei. Combat methods that lack rei are not martial arts but merely contemptible violence. Physical power without rei is no more than brute strength, and for human beings it is without value.

All martial arts begin and end with rei. Unless they are practiced with a feeling of reverence and respect, they are simply forms of violence. For this reason martial arts must maintain rei from beginning to end.”

I believe everything must maintain rei from beginning to end, whether its school, career, religion, relationships or time for fun. If we treated everyone and everything with reverence, respect, and courtesy, the world would be a much nicer and safer place to interact.

Are you living your life with true rei? Do you treat yourself and others with courtesy, esteem and respect? Do your characters? What changes can you make right now to demonstrate the rei in your heart? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

FOR FUN: What Spider-man quote relates this statement from The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi? “The difference between men and animals lies in Rei.”

~K.M. Fawcett

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You Give Karate a Bad Name

Disrespect is ugly. Especially when it comes from a black belt and parent, and is directed toward a nine-year-old child.

A few weeks ago, we took our students to a karate tournament. While our school’s focus is on self-defense, not competition, we do offer our students two opportunities a year to participate in a no contact/light contact tournament. Every time we go to one, I am reminded again why I dislike them.

It was the nine-year old brown belt group’s final match in point kumite, (or “tag” as I sometimes call it since the first person to pass the other’s guard and make contact receives a point). A boy from our school and a girl from another competed in this final round, which would determine first place. Both competitors fought aggressively. Then the girl popped our student in the face. Twice. Hey, karate is a contact sport. It’s a fight. These things happen. Increased adrenalin paired with excitement or frustration often leads to lack of control. The girl was disqualified as per the rules.

Now, as anyone who has been popped in the nose knows, the body’s natural response is to tear up. When the boy wiped his eyes, a black belt man (the girl’s dad?) enthusiastically jumped in front of a black belt woman with a camera (the girl’s mom?) and exclaims, “He’s crying. Get a picture!”

Excuuuse me!

A grown man of advanced rank was excited about the tears of a nine-year-old to want a memento of it?

I was pissed. I didn’t care what rank this guy held, I let him know what he said was disrespectful. They ignored me and slinked away (I’d like to think it was because they were embarrassed, but more likely they went to show the girl the picture). Another sensei (teacher) with a red and black stripe belt (meaning 7th degree or higher) from the same school had been standing between the mom and me, and asked what happened. I don’t know how he missed it, he was standing right next to them when the guy said it…loudly, I might add. After I told him what happened, he started his spiel about how they have tough girls in their dojo and that they don’t treat their girls differently from the boys. Um, hello! I don’t give a flying front kick how tough the girls are in your school. You’re totally missing the point. This isn’t about the girl. At all. This is about your adult black belt parents disrespecting a competitor, disrespecting the competitor’s teachers and parents standing nearby, and demonstrating poor sportsmanship.

Seriously, is that really what you want your students to learn? “Hey kids…it doesn’t matter if your techniques lack control or you get disqualified; we’re going to celebrate the fact that you made a boy cry. And here’s the framed photo to prove how tough you are!”

I wonder if they’d feel the same way if the boy popped the girl in the face and his parents said, “Quick take a picture. She’s crying.”

~ K.M. Fawcett