Respect – Do You Get It?…

By Allie Alberigo

The Martial Arts has been around for thousands of years and is virtually unchanged in all that time. Principles that have lasted lifetimes are still being taught freely at Martial Arts schools across the world. Why is it that these Arts have stood the test of time? Simply because they are built on one very important principle – respect.

In most Martial Arts schools you will hear “Yes sir; Yes ma’am,” as a regular occurrence. You will see bowing and hand shaking and raising of hands before a question is asked; you will also hear students being corrected, when they say “Yeah,” to say “Yes.” What is it about our society that in general has driven down the level of respect? With the internet age, computers, video games, and other venues, why is it that interaction and respect are going downhill? To no fault and no blame, with the advancement of society we are getting out of practice. We can blame computer games, videos, Hollywood, but you know what: why don’t we stop pointing the finger outward and start pointing it inward. If we want our children to be better, smarter, more respectful, we need to teach them to be that way. We also need to lead by example. People, from young children on up to adults, do what they see. They follow trends: they are the perfect representation of “mini-me.” If you drink, smoke, and curse, your children are more likely to do so. So we can no longer lead by the “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality. The old saying “Practice makes perfect” is a very misleading statement. Sometimes practicing things like drinking, cursing and smoking simply makes you great at something very imperfect.

So the saying should be that “correct, moral, and perfect practice makes perfect.” We as a society are out of practice at being respectful. The way we can change that is by instituting respect into our lives again. We need to teach and lead by example, “doing” what we preach. If we want to raise patient, caring, empathetic children, we can’t expect for it to happen automatically: we need to practice those traits ourselves, teach them, and then expect them. The expression “common sense” is a misnomer: “Common sense is not so common.”

Talking about common sense is misleading. Members of tribes who live in the jungle are taught not to fall asleep in the jungle when wild animals are close by. If they are not taught this, then most likely they will be eaten.

the elders expected that fact to be known by common sense, they would have very well-fed animals in the jungle. The same goes for children and adults here. If children are taught to stop for a second, look someone in the eyes, and say “Thank you and have a nice day” to each and every person who holds the door for them, the response will become habit. If they are not told, they will just walk through the open door with someone holding it and not say a word. They need to be taught the correct behavior.

I want to give you a few examples: Just recently I witnessed a Karate party at a Martial Arts school. The party primarily had three- and four-year-olds. The parents came in smiling, with gifts in hand, and the little birthday boy greeted everyone with a huge smile. Most children immediately did as instructed, while about four of the twenty put their parents through the paces, starting with the “I don’t want to go in,” or simply saying “No.” I stood and watched as I saw the parents negotiating as though they were buying a house. If you do this, I will do that; if you go in for 20 minutes Mommy will buy you that big red truck you want. I was shocked to say the least. When I gave my two cents and advice to the parents, with suggestions on how we get children on the floor at my school, I could see it fell on deaf ears. They said the typical “Yeah we tried that but this one is strong-minded.” Well, I think there isn’t a three- or four-year-old in the world that can’t be told what to do if you use the correct methodology. With a bit of coaching and practice, this behavior could be erased from their lives and they could have very productive children. How does that happen? Quite frankly, we have to educate the people in need.

Start practicing slowly, start teaching and educating your children on how they should act, what their behavior should be, and the reasons why. Do not suggest, teach. Start the same way you did when they started to walk or potty train. What if your children decided they didn’t want to walk? Would you just say “Okay” and let them crawl their entire lives? The answer, of course, is a resounding “No.” Parents need to start by setting boundaries and also practicing what they preach. In our busy, hectic, everyday lives, we need to take the time to look at ourselves and our parenting abilities as well as move forward while shaping our children’s behavior and development. Ask your Martial Arts instructors what you can do as a parent at home to become more in sync with the lessons being taught at the Martial Arts school. If Martial Arts instructors had a dollar for every time a parent said “I wish I could take you home with me, they listen so well, while they are here,” we would be rich. Martial Arts teachers follow the methods of consistency and rules. Most school owners follow what they have been doing for years, and their teachers have been teaching for years. It is a protocol within in each school.

So what you need to do is start developing your rules and regulations at home, start working on the protocol, the systems, and respect. Remember, 

as a parent you must lead by example and practice what you preach. Let’s start off by developing respectful, productive young children and teens.

This article was written by Allie Alberigo, the author of

21st Century Ninjutsu – A Warriors Mindset. The book is available at or