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 not 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 then apply to life outside of the dojo environment.

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

As I made my way towards the entrance, I noticed two cars driving up and down the aisles. One was being driven by a middle-aged lady with a much older lady in the passenger seat. The other car being driven by a young man, probably in his late teens. They each spotted the parking space near the main entrance at the same time, but the young man got there first. He parked quickly, got out of the car, and carrying a gi he ran towards the front door.

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

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

So, what is the lesson here?

I like to think that a more experienced karate-ka, deeply educated in courtesy, and respect, would have also passed up that vacant parking space. Leaving it for someone, older, someone less nimble, or perhaps a mother with small children. All of whom would have truly appreciated that parking space. And, in doing so they would have demonstrated two one of karate’s prime lessons, courtesy and repect. Thereby enjoying the sight of a middle-aged lady, and her elderly companion exiting their car, and together walking arm in arm to the front door in less than a minute.

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