Courtesy on the sparring mat (credit: forlanda)

About Courtesy

Courtesy is the first tenet of Taekwondo.  It represents a positive aspect of a person’s character.  In simplistic terms, it means being nice to others.

One way one can be nice is to show respect.  When one respects another it generates positive energy.  This positive energy is what makes people feel good about themselves.  There are many ways of showing respect.  You can show respect by saying or doing something; the same is true for withholding words or not doing something.  This might seem confusing, so here are some example to clarify.

Things you say or do to show respect:

  1. say:  Start saying “sir” or “ma’ am” to everyone.  Everyone will start feeling they are important.
  2. do:  Open a door for someone, and make them feel special.
What you do here generates positive energy on the receiving end.

What you should not say or not do to show respect:

  1. don’t say:  Call someone who is obese “fatso”.  If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.
  2. don’t do:  Cut in line in front of people who has been waiting ahead of you.  This creates negative energy against you.

Things you don’t do prevent negative energy.  This kind of courtesy are the ones that tend to be invisible, i.e. people will typically not notice it unless they know the nature of the person who is restraining themselves.

Courtesy On The Sparring Mat

A few days a go, I saw an exemplary display of courtesy.  This great act of courtesy came from one of our students who is just 11 years old.  This just goes to show that courtesy has no age boundaries, or for that matter, no gender or ethnic limits.

Anyway, our student exercised courtesy during a Taekwondo sparring match.  You might be thinking or asking “how can someone show courtesy in a sparring match when all the do there is punch and kick each other?”  This is where it gets interesting.  Our student is extremely fast and strong in sparring.  His kicks are devastating to anyone even above his age group.

During his sparring match, he moved and kicked just as we practiced in class.  However, there was something missing.  His kicks and punches lacked the sting they normally had during sparring practice in class.  As the matched continued, it was clear that his opponent wasn’t as skilled, and was basically outclassed.  Our student won the match–scoring 3 to 1.

What really happened here?  And how does courtesy fit in?  It may not be obvious, but our student realized his opponent was outclassed and thought that his kicks could potentially hurt or injure his opponent.   So instead of kicking at his normal speed and power, he restrained himself–still kicking with enough power to score, yet sufficiently restrained so as not to hurt the other kid.  When I realized this, I stopped shouting instructions towards him; I just let him be throughout the rest of the match.

For any age, this behavior is exemplary.  It is a sign that our student knows to respect the safety of others even to the point of possibly compromising his win.  He could have easily shut out his opponent, but his humbleness and courtesy showed his potential for becoming a true martial artist.  He also gained my respect and admiration.


Most of the time, courtesy is something you do to others who notice and appreciate it.  However, sometimes it is something you do not do, as in the case of our student who restrained his normally strong kicks to avoid possibly hurting someone who wasn’t as skilled at protecting himself during a match.

Acts of courtesy of this kind could easily remain hidden from everyone, except for the lucky few who happen to know the inside story.

So remember, acts of courtesy can be happening all around you without you.

Q1 2012 PC Vendor Market Share

Q1 2012 PC Vendor Market Share (credit: Apple Outsider)

Since the introduction of the Apple iPad in April 2010, then the entry of the extremely affordable Kindle Firein November 2011, the sales of traditional computers like laptops and desktops have slowly dwindled.

Check out the graph which clearly shows the trend in sales for the Apple iPad.  Notice Q1/2010.  This is when the iPad was released.  With the exception of Lenovo, all PC vendor market shares were trending down.

Look at Q4/2011. Notice that the Lenovo market share begins to show a hint of a downward trend.  Q4/2011 was when the Kindle Fire was introduced by  For $199 a pop, the Kindle Fire quickly moved up second to the iPad in the tablet computer market.

I work in the IT (Information Technology) field.  My general bias is to people who happen to have the traditional personal computer.  But, based on recent conversations with people considering a new purchase of a computing platform, most see themselves as buying a tablet computer.  The reason being is that most users have really been using computers to do one or more of the following activities:

  1. Check e-mail
  2. Stay connected via social networking
  3. Shop online
  4. Read the latest news and gossip
  5. Watch movies
  6. Listen to music

If I missed one, let me know, but based on what I’ve heard directly from people who aren’t that computer savvy, these are pretty much all they do!  If that is so, then the tablet computer is the new paradigm of personal computing.

With Microsoft joining the bandwagon of tablet computing, there is no going back.  I bet you, when the next holiday season comes a long, the tablet computer will be the number one purchase.  There will be so many tablet vendors clamoring for consumer attention that tablet features will be full while at the same time prices will be amazingly low!

This is just on the consumer side of the fence.  I’ve noticed a strong trend on the business side as well.  Where I work, the standard computing device is a Windows-based computer.  However, within the last 3 or 4 months, the strong demand for tablet computers has forced iPads into our business environment.  Note that this is an IT department who is a strong Windows proponent.  This is simply amazing.

This technological revolution can certainly be attributed to the following things:

  • The tablet operating system is extremely easy to use that even a two or three-year old could operate it.
  • The battery life of these devices blow away those of laptops.  Tablet battery lasts anywhere from 8 to 10 hours.
  • Tablet prices have been going down; for $199, anyone can have one.
  • Tablet applications are plenty and extremely cheap.  In the good old days of PC software, $20 or higher software prices were typical.  Today there are many free apps; and for those you buy, the price ranges from $0.99 to $9.99.  Most are only $0.99!

Enough of my ramblings.  The tablet trend is definitely here, and there is now getting around that.

What do you think?  Is the tablet the new personal computer?

We always recite the tenets of Taekwondo at the start of every class to help instill them into our students.  They are:

  1. Courtesy
  2. Integrity
  3. Perseverance
  4. Self-control
  5. Indomitable Spirit
  6. Victory

This is basically a list of traits or characteristics we as martial artists live by.  Courtesy is treating others with respect; just be nice to others.  When you do what is right and your word is your bond, you have integrity.  Life is full of challenges; perseverance can help you get over them; you only fail when you quit.  If you don’t let anger or other temptations get to you, you have self-control.  Indomitable spirit is setting high goals and going for them; people need a purpose in life.  With victory, one can radiate positive energy through their winning attitude; there is a silver lining to every dark cloud.

Why is this code important?

When you learn attack and defensive techniques that can potentially hurt people, that is “power”.  With “power” comes responsibility; you as a martial artist have the responsibility of using this power for good.

The original movie “Karate Kid”, clearly illustrates what would happen when this power isn’t guided or tempered with a martial arts code like our tenets of Taekwondo; people who simply learn martial arts techniques become bullies.

Do not take the tenets of Taekwondo lightly; we recite it for a reason.  We want to instill them in all our students.  The next time you recite the tenets of Taekwondo, think about what they represent.