Tuesday, October 04, 2005

attitude and etiquette

At the parade on Saturday, I was talking about my colleagues about the pleasure of being a student in TKD and ballet. Lisa said she'd recently learned how to ski alongside some students, and had found it cool to be a learner while her students were the experts.

Karla said "I love learning, but I hate having to do what people tell me to do."

Eli piped up, "Me too!"

In Tae Kwon Do you really have to be OK with having people tell you what to do. There's a clear hierarchy in TKD--that whole belt system with people being "higher" and "lower" than each other. Those higher than you CAN tell you what to do!

I guess I don't hate that as much as Karla does. I'm OK with letting someone tell me what to do, with following instructions. In fact, I think it's kind of cool when all of us follow Master Hughes's instructions and do "basic movements" all at once. Thirty people (or more) doing low blocks together. Or Kwansu with a kiap! Cool.

Still, I am not completely OK with obedience. Sometimes when we're running through basic moves I think "this looks like an army." Blind obedience. I'm not big into obedience; at least I'm very picky about whom I obey.

In fact, when I filled out my test form, I noticed that there's a section called "attitude and etiquette." I immediately thought "yeesh, I'm not very good at that."

I sometimes think of attitude and etiquette in TKD as "yes sir" and "no sir." I don't naturally say those things. I tend to want to think about what people ask me to do: note my reaction to the self-defense move! I'm surprised Ms. Pryor didn't make me do push-ups.

Master Hughes talked to us about etiquette at the end of class yesterday. He challenged us to be more aware of etiquette: to bow properly, to greet blackbelts when we arrive. But the way he explained it was that it was politeness, not obedience, that should make us do this.

OK then. I can go with that attitude.

In fact, he then segued into a little talk about standing up for yourself and NOT going blindly along with other people. He gave an example of smoking, which he tried as a teen, then quit. "I got teased for that," he said. "But I know I was doing the right thing."

So maybe at our dojang, etiquette isn't mere obedience. It's more like integrity and respect along with some kindness and ethics.

I have to keep thinking about this. Maybe I won't fail that segment of the test after all.

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