Friday, September 09, 2005

Dear Emily Post......

Ok... so if you've been reading along with me you should know that I have 2 year old twins at home. This means that I can't always control when I leave for the dojo as my wife has her hands full. Last night I was a touch late leaving for class and arrived a few minutes late. (the kids needed a bath)

You need a little more background here. We are a small dojo that shares space with a dance studio. This means that we actually have to set up and break down the tatami, kamiza, and wall hangings every night we meet. If everyone is around, it goes pretty fast. This was the first night that I came late enough that I actually walked into a fully assembled dojo. Sensei was fully dressed and was addressing the students who were all in seiza. Now... everything I read said that I'm supposed to wait to be acknowledged before stepping on to the mat. So I bowed as I entered the dojo and then I wait. The black belt in the class told me it was ok to come on. In her mind class hadn't started yet I guess. I stepped on with my left foot first and started to move to take my place in line. So at this point F ( the black belt ) tells me that it is customary to bow to the kamiza where O'Sensei's picture is located. In fact.... she seemed quite annoyed. The exchange sounded like this.....

F: You know... your supposed to bow to the kamiza before coming in(In a loud voice).
Me: Oh yes... thats right... I forgot.
F: THEN DO IT !!

So I go back and bow and then take my place in line. I actually didn't mind the correction as I'm taking the attitude of I'm learning and I'm a beginner. At first I was bothered a little bit that she decided to correct me publicly. I work in a business world of "punish in private, praise in public". It's one of the first things I learned about managing people. But... this isn't a business environment... this is a dojo. My mistake will likely not be repeated by the others in the class. By correcting me in front of everyone the rest of the class gets a free lesson in etiquette. Frankly I don't see it as a big deal and it was quickly forgotten but I was amused to see the reactions of others in the class. To my right in line is a soon to be 4 kyu(he's testing next week) who has been doing martial arts most of his life. I believe he even won two TKD championships at one point. He sort of pats me on the back and says..... "your the first person to ever walk into the assembled dojo". He was trying to give me a little solace where none was needed. K commented to me after class about how I was publicly corrected where some etiquette during the class was discussed by her quite quietly. This was likely because we were all doing training at that point and she didn't want to disrupt others. K also comes from a business world but is a bit rigid in his thinking.

So I have two thoughts on the whole subject..... Thanks for the lesson in etiquette.... and ... maybe in this case it would have been better for F to "Shut up and train". Most of the stuff we learn in class, etiquette included is via observation. Eventually, I would have corrected myself. It's hard for me to take this view with F because when she has been my partner I learned much from a suggestion or two from her. Either way, it was no big deal for me. People are what they are and no harm done.

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