respect -- noun: high or special regard : Esteem. The quality or state of being esteemed
Respect. It's what we martial artists hear a lot about in class. It's something that's learned from day one. You may or may not learn to respect your elders outside of the dojang, but while there you learn so much more about it in depth.
Respect is something that is taught in many martial arts schools, but really it is earned over time. Sure I can respect the fact that there is a black belt tied around my instructors' waist. Obviously he/she knows a whole lot more than me about the art I'm studying. Hopefully they earned it the right way through many years of training, and not through some McDojo. And that's something that I don't need to question myself. I know that they earned their rank.
But to respect someone does not just mean to respect their rank or status. It's something much more. I guess you could say that respect comes with trust. They go hand in hand with each other. But back to my earlier point. What else do I mean about respect if it's not just for their status?
I mean that I respect my instructors for their character. I've seen them in action living by Christian values and teaching others the same. I've seen them come to class diligently without complaint week after week, year after year. And they don't even get paid for it. They come and teach because they love the art and want us to learn. They have servant attitudes that model what Christ would have them to do and we can see that through their actions. They praise us when we do something good and correct when there's something wrong. They are patient, kind, honest, trustworthy. . .and I could use a multitude of other adjectives.
My instructors are role models to me. I want to be like them. They have gained my respect not from being X Dan black belt, but for being who they are.