A Champion's Courtesy

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A Champion's Courtesy

There is no better place to see the values of courtesy and respect at work than in the martial arts. A great venue to test the true character of a man is when you put him head-to-head against a similarly skilled opponent. Stress, fear, fatigue, pain, and excitement all work to break down the character of a fighter when they enter the ring, cage, or mat. This is when you get to see the true heart of a person. So why is it that these men and women, despite the heat of the competition, often show the utmost professional courtesy towards their opponent?

When I first started competing, I had already been in martial arts for many years. But I hadn't quite grasped the concept of showing courtesy in that setting. I would shake the opponents hand, or wish them luck, but in the back if my mind, they were my enemy and I was just there to take them down. I didn't have any true respect for them. Especially if they beat me. I couldn't wait to get my "revenge."

As I made the rounds in the field of competition I began to realize something. My opponents were in the same position I was when they stepped onto the mat. They were facing the exact same fear, the same frustration, the same fatigue that I was. I needed to respect their willingness to face those challenges and compete anyway. Now when I step into the ring, I show respect to my fellow competitor. I respect his bravery, his skill, his training, and his heart. I just know that I have to be a better fighter than him on that day. No anger, no resentment-only one person vs another. That is the role of courtesy in the martial arts.

But how different is that really from everyday life? The people we meet on a daily basis are just like us, and deserve to be shown the same courtesy that we would like to be shown. Simple things, like speaking kindly, holding a door for someone, being nice to your server at a restaurant, or just smiling once and again, can show that you respect that person's willingness to fight their own battles and overcome life's challenges. And that is true courtesy.