Self-Defense: Developing Character V

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Steve Weber

The Japanese word Rei means respect and it is not a coincidence that it also means bow. Being respectful to others meant having high regard for the feelings of others by being polite and courteous. This emphasis on etiquette, trained their youth to compose themselves with fine manners and discretion. When confused about an unforeseen situation, they always choose the most respectful option. It allowed them to use this self imposed discipline to clearly distinguish the difference between rudeness and threats. This particular martial virtue is quite important in today’s world where temperance and civility certainly appear to be waning.

Japanese social mores requires that every member of that society take personal responsibility for understanding what constitutes correct and proper behavior at every level of social interaction. Sadly, in our society, proscribed behavior for most social interaction is confused at best. For instance, I teach my instructors proper phone etiquette. When was the last time someone you didn’t know called you and introduced themselves with a first and last name; clearly stated who or what they represent; explained the purpose of their call, and asked to speak to you with a Mr., Mrs., or Ms. in front of your last name?

Many of my youngsters are great kids but often start their training with an unacceptable level of social immaturity. It can take a little while, but they soon learn to greet the instructor when they arrive and say thank you and goodbye when they leave. Instead of using “yups and nopes” as if we are social equals, they learn to say yes/no sir or yes/no ma’am. They are introduced to a variety of social graces that to many westerners, may seem to be tedious and overdone. Many of my teenagers express disappointment in not getting the respect they think they deserve from their peers. I try to remind them that one has to first give respect to get it. It is strikingly odd, how many people who want respect from others, are the least capable of granting it themselves.

Mr. Weber is the chief instructor at the Aikido Academy of Self-Defense located at 16134 North Oracle Road, in Catalina. He has more than 40 years of experience in the Martial Arts and has achieved skills in a variety of disciplines. He also teaches Tai-Chi with classes on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to noon and Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m.

Please call (520) 825-8500 for information regarding these and other programs. If you wish, check out the website at

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