Saturday, December 08, 2007

Respect Your Opponents

I have talked about respect before, in a previous post. Today, I will talk about respecting your opponents, your training partners.

Our opponents, our training partners, are there to help us to learn more about ourselves. Through pushing hands with them, we learn about our own mistakes, we learn about our weaknesses and where we need to improve. Through them, we know what we need to focus on. Thus, they deserve our respect, since through them, we are learning and improving.

When we do not respect our training partners, when we think of them as people that we need to defeat, when we start to treat them as objectives to be conquered, rather than the people that they are, that is when we not only stop respecting them, but also lose their respect of us. Mutual respect is lost, and pushing hands become a matter of deciding who is better, rather than a journey of self-discovery and improvement.

In the movie Fearless, Huo Yuanjia's father respected his opponents and rather than injure his opponent to win a match, he would rather suffer defeat and live with a clear conscience. The young Huo Yuanjia (portrayed by Jet Li) did not understand this and treated all his opponents as objectives to be conquered, not as the human beings that they were. He did not show respect, and thus there was no mercy. And when he showed no mercy to his opponents, they did not show mercy too when revenge came.

A martial artist's worth is not in how well he can fight, how many people he can defeat. It is in how he leads his life, how his life is an example for others to follow. And to do that, he must first be able to learn the important lesson of respect, a lesson that is easily clouded in anger and forgotten during success. But it is important because it is the basis that others use when deciding on how they want to deal with you. If you want to be treated with respect, you must respect others first. Otherwise, others will have no qualms about making you lose face, because they know that you will likely do the same to them.

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