Etiquette and the martial arts

Jan. 19, 2013 @ 04:37 PM

Egads, I didn’t realize I’d have to continually duck from my nine-year-old grandson, Nicky. His hands are cutting through the air at rapid speed. Chop. Chop. Moving through his house, he’s twisting and twirling. Swooshing through the air and he’s uttering guttural sounds. He’s a live action hero.

When he gets with his 10-year-old cousin Chloe, its a chaos of flying hands and arms. Each tries to twist the other to the floor. What’s with this phenomenon?

Why its karate that’s taken over two of my grandchildren. Watch yourself. They’ll take you down.

I have just recently found that martial arts has a wealth of etiquette training. What a pleasant surprise!

I wish I’d had this training when growing up between three brothers. Two of those boys played football and all three were gigantic people. Wow! Maybe fighting back would have been different for me.

Martial arts for self defense grew out of Asia. Karate from Japan. Tae Kwon Do from Korea. The former emphasizes arm and hand movements and the latter leg and foot.

I got to watch Nicky at his Atlanta Kick’s karate class. A fortunate addition to my quick visit in Atlanta. This is where I picked up my newfound information.

Once entering the main room at Atlanta Kick, is a Maya Angelou display. Its above the cubby holes for shoes, backpacks.

I’ve always loved her wisdom. The display reads, “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”

The other side of the room the rules of karate etiquette appear. Yes, there are etiquette standards for karate. Respect for others. Address adults by title and last name. Use the terms please and thank you appropriately are some on the list.

I spoke to Alison Massa one of the owners and learned of their storm team. It’s students trained to lead classes, practice public speaking and stand up for their principles even in the face of adversity.

I wonder how many of you saw the "60 Minutes" interview with Drew Rosenhaus, football super agent. He gives Tae Kwon Do the credit for his obsessive single-minded focus discipline that’s led to his phenomenal success.

Both of my grandchildren saw that episode. They weren’t impressed. Oh, well. So much for my dreams of big bucks from those two.

Martial art classes seem to be a way to teach good manners in conjunction with physical movement skills.


• Monroe, NC resident Jeanne Howell teaches etiquette to business and private groups. You may reach her at