Student Pledges help remind us…
Today I want to talk about the student pledge. Looking at a poster I just put up I realized a long time ago, when I was regularly a student and not an instructor, It was every class we talked about these things. Now we have our mat chats and our topics that we want to talk about to help us be better people and better leaders. However, Student pledges help us be better…really what we want first is to make sure we take a quick moment to step back and understand that these pledges actually exist. In classes we will take out time and explore these pledges, often. Today, I’m going to talk about the pledges in a snap shot brief approach, but an approach that will leave you understanding my take on each pledge.
On page 25, of The Art of Kyuki-do 2nd edition, is the section on the student pledge. I am going to give the first paragraph to you here: All Kyuki-Do participants, from student to instructor to Master, must commit themselves to high behavioral and moral standards of excellence. Each participant is expected to learn and adhere to five ideals beneficial to their personal growth in Kyuki-Do. They pledged to conduct themselves accordingly both at the dojang and in their daily life. Through this personal commitment the student of Kyuki-Do will improve the relationship between their own mind, body and spirit as well as their relationship with the world around them.
Not perfect, just committed to working toward the goal.
Sounds good? Are we perfect at all these things? Of course not. The pledges are our reminder, our task list or our goal. We believe that by working through these pledges, and constantly recognizing that we’re never done trying to figure out how to do them right, we will constantly be trying to make ourselves better. If we’re actually actively paying attention to ourselves, and trying to be better, better things are likely to happen.
STUDENT PLEDGE NUMBER ONE
So let’s dive in. Pledge number one; I shall respect my instructor and all senior ranks.
This pledge Sounds pretty easygoing, pretty easy to understand. Respecting the instructor; bowing and answering yes sir and no sir are some pretty clear signs of that martial arts style of respect.. Being able to sit still and demonstrate self control, eye-contact and listening are things we work on here but also translate to home and school as well! These are some examples of what we used to develop and grow respect. Over time, it gets really obvious and the martial arts student stands above all others in the area of respect. Martial artists make some fantastic employees later on, because they understand how to earn respect, not just give it.
What does it mean by all senior ranks? Yes. If you’re a parent and your child has a yellow belt and you decide to join them and you are a white belt, your child having a higher rank is a senior rank. Now, does that mean they get to boss you around and be mean? No, of course not. We are trying to learn how to be better people, better leaders and how to work well in group situations.
So there is of course, a learning curve to the concept of respect by rank vs. respect truly earned.. But absolutely, yes, we do allow for a little bit of notoriety, according to your rank, and therefore, it is common knowledge that if a black belt asks you to do something in class that you should do it. Of course there are gray areas and areas where you should question direction and authority. We get into that and we understand those complexities. We learn how to make sure we’re making smart, legitimate decisions for ourselves and maybe even others. So I shall respect my instructor and all senior ranks just simply means YesSir No Sir, Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am, Pay attention, Listen and do what we’re asked to in order to demonstrate self control. The rest builds from there.
Student Pledge Number Two
We’ve jumped in, now hit the deep end of the pool! Student Pledge Number two; I shall conduct myself in a respectful manner.
I think this one is wonderful because it is not just used in class but is used at home, at school and in life overall.
Adults and Kids Alike
Adults, even at your job! If you hold a job that you don’t like, act with respect first, second and last!. May I suggest, you know, we still have to conduct ourselves in a respectful manner and even if others aren’t. Alright, conducting yourself in a respectful manner means not talking over somebody else or dominating a conversation. Kids need this one taught early and often to help with better success later in life! Conducting yourself in a respectful manner also means remembering to learn how to listen, not just speak. Conducting yourself in a respectful manner, means not doing something to someone else what you would not want them to do to you. I think this concept likely sounds familiar to most of us, but we must talk about it to pass it on from one generation to another.
The idea for us was that we actually take the time to talk about it, and practice it. We help them understand how to make it actually work.
Student Pledge Number Three
As we take our laps around the pool of pondering, here is Student Pledge Number three; I shall respect the teachings of Kyuki-Do and never misuse them.
Real Martial Artists Try to Avoid Conflict not seek it out!
Pledge number three should go on a billboard up above our building. One of the attitude I get a kick out of is the small percentage of the population that believes martial arts is just about kicking and punching. They say; I don’t want my son or daughter to learn martial arts because I don’t want them to get into fights. I say Exactly! You are so right not to want your kids to be getting into fights but you are wrong in one major point. Kids who do not get into martial arts are far more likely to fight than those in a structured respectful martial arts learning environment.
Martial Artists are less likely to find a fight
I shall respect the teachings of Kyuki-D and never misuse them means whatever you learn here you treat with respect and do not use it unless you have no other choice. You are not going to go out and punch your mom or dad or cat or dog. You are not going to punch or kick your brother, your sister, your best friends or even your enemies. You’re only going to use your martial art where it is appropriate. We get into that in depth in classes. It takes a while to fully understand the whole picture, but the basics are there on day #1.
There are many gray areas. Obviously, do not go looking for a fight. Did you know we also coach on not going to school and demonstrating or teaching your martial arts tol your friends? That can get somebody hurt. You want to use your martial arts the appropriate way and at the appropriate time. Martial arts teaches better decision making skills to help with these situations. You can always invite your friends, and even your enemies to come with you to learn what you’re learning. You’d be amazed at how well that might work out, and you are not risking any trouble trying to prove yourself to your friends. Now, maybe down the road, you may become an instructor or maybe you get into a self defense situation where you have no choice.
It takes a community. Communication and accountability will help
There are quite a few consequences here for misusing your martial arts skills. I suggest you come in and ask me about them if you’re interested. The consequences here for using your martial arts or disrespecting your martial art start simple but will increase to much more impactful and memorable penalties. Most people choose not to go down the path of misuse, but even when mistakes happen, you will find we are very quick to respond and serious issues can usually be avoided with good communication and understanding.
Student Pledge Number Four
Student Pledge Number four; I shall always respect the rights of others
I shall always respect the rights of others, especially in today’s day and age, needs us! The most divided our country’s ever been? I’m not actually sure that’s entirely true, but I do know that it is the most obvious division our country’s ever seen due to social media and the instant information platforms now available.
My way or no way?
Everybody seems to have an extremely rigid view on one thing or another. Those of us who walk down the middle of the road tend to get lost in the shuffle because the people on the other extremely rigid sides of an opinion are so very determined to be heard. Everybody’s opinions are so dang strong, and they’re supported by that little machine in their hand called a cell phone. When they question something they Google it and whatever fits their interest is what they use to support their belief. What somebody else believes or wants or thinks or does is instantly considered up for debate and sometimes aggressively. We take the time to learn how to listen. That is the first step in respecting the rights of others.
Follow your own path, respectfully
We try to share the simple fact that everybody is different and they’re allowed to be! There is zero tolerance for mistreating somebody just because they don’t think like you. There is zero tolerance for disrespecting somebody else’s idea just because it doesn’t match yours. You can obviously follow your own path. You can obviously follow your own beliefs. In fact we want you to!
How you treat the person who disagrees with you is important ladies and gentlemen! Some of my best friends have exactly the opposite views on many, many topics than I do and those people are my true friends. Those are the people who we can look each other in the eye and argue! Sometimes we get so angry about our disagreements that you would swear to God we didn’t like each other. We absolutely do and if you pay attention long enough, you’ll recognize that we will come back to the point of acceptance and respect. We are brothers and sisters together in the same world. And even though we have differences of opinions, we respect each other entirely. That’s what this is all about. I shall always respect the rights of others, even if they might not agree with you. That’s okay. Done right, this is a beautiful thing.
Student Pledge Number Five
After taking a few laps in the pool of pledges we end with Student Pledge Number Five; I shall strive for peace and camaraderie in the world.
Wouldn’t it be nice we could all just get along. Good heavens. I’ll tell you what. I like this one. Partially because nobody knows what the heck the word camaraderie is, nor can they spell it. The word camaraderie simply means friendship or brotherhood. Once you know what the word means, you can clearly understand the true reason this pledge is important. Just imagine a world where everyone can actually get along. No, it hasn’t happened yet, but someone has to make the effort. Our plan is to be part of the effort!
There is good in the world
Camaraderie in the world! Right and there’s a lot of it in this world. We sometimes forget to take a look around. One of my favorite examples is if something bad happens on the side of the road. You’re driving along the road and somebody crashes or something bad happens. People stop! They try to help! Yes, if you want to go about the world looking at all the examples of the idiots and the people who would rather argue every single thing that they see you will find it and you will find a lot of it. If you’re like me and you want to realize that humanity is not lost and that we can actually continue to make it stronger and better together, then do this with me and start paying attention to the amazing camaraderie that is to humankind.
Find the silver lining
We really do care. We sometimes forget to notice it. And that’s what this pledge is about. I shall strive for peace and camaraderie in the world. We are going to actively remind ourselves to look for the good, look for the silver lining, look for the positive, look for the similarities. We are going to actively remind ourselves to appreciate the differences but accept and move on. Make the best out of every situation. Kindness and positivity takes practice and is never perfect or easy. It has to start somewhere, so let it start with you.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are the student pledges
- I shall respect my instructor and all senior ranks.
- I shall conduct myself in a respectful manner.
- I shall respect the teachings of Kyuki-Do and never misuse them.
- I shall always respect the rights of others.
- I shall strive for peace and camaraderie in the world.