One of karate's quiet lessons.

Where would you have parked?

Given enough time karate tends to change a student. Often in ways they would never have expected. This of course does not happen overnight, it takes time, and an open mind. Because while some lessons will be physical, or technical in nature, others will be much more subtle. Such as lessons on courtesy, and respect, that a student can apply to life outside of the dojo environment.

One day I went to a well attended tournament. I was fortunate to spot a parking space very close to the main entrance. Rather than park there I chose to drive to the far end of the parking lot where there were plenty of spaces to pick from. I did this in order to leave that prime parking spot near the main entrance for someone who may have more difficulty walking than I do.

As I walked toward the entrance I noticed two cars driving into the parking lot. The first one was being driven by a young man probably in his late teens. The second car was being driven by a middle-aged lady with a much older lady sitting in the passenger seat. The young man spotted the parking space near the main entrance, parked there, got out of his car, and carrying a gi ran quickly towards the front door.

The lady driver, clearly disappointed at losing this prime parking space, had no other choice except to do what I had just done. So she too parked at the far end of the lot. I watched as she walked around the car, and help the much older lady out of the passenger seat. Then taking her arm, the two of them began to walk slowly towards the front door. It took them about three minutes.

Later I saw that same young man, this time wearing a red belt, and competing in kata.

So, what is the lesson here?

I like to think that any experienced karate-ka would have also passed up that vacant parking space. Leaving it for someone who could really benefit from finding it. In doing so that karate-ka would have demonstrated, albeit likely unseen, a lesson in courtesy. By doing so they may just save a middle-aged lady, and her elderly companion, a long walk to the front door.

Remember: "Kindness, and consideration of others, are also martial virtues."