My children (ages 131/2 and 9) are studying Tae Kwon Do, and several of the "Codes of Conduct"
relate to respect. Now, I'm not sure if this would fall under philosophy, but in searching the Net, I have
been unable to come up with an "age appropriate" definition for them to understand. When using the
dictionary, I have discovered, that they must look up works that are used in the definition — which is
becoming frustrating — and hence, they are losing interest. Can you help? Or at least direct me to
where I might find the answer to this question?
How about the Golden Rule, "treat others as you want to be treated"? That's my direct response to
Now I'm going to give you my indirect response, which you probably won't like. Speaking as the
step-grandfather of a 10-year old who is being raised to enjoy karate, I find myself in the position of
strongly disapproving of this practice, as it is taught in this culture, while approving of it by other
criteria. Let me elaborate. Boxing, karate, savate, and so forth are martial skills ( not arts) which train
people in the techniques of killing, maiming, and inflicting pain. Our culture glorifies this type of
activity, romanticizing the "warrior", the "samurai", to an extent that the Japanese, for example, find
horrifying. When one obtains a black belt in one of these forms of skill in Japan, one must register
their hands and feet as lethal weapons. The Japanese know what they are teaching. In this country,
most educated persons regard owning firearms as equally dangerous, and do not let their children
learn to shoot a pistol, for example, without very strict supervision and warnings. But they are willing
to let them learn to kill with their hands and feet because that is somehow seen as less dangerous
and more romantic. The rationale for this escapes me; I see no difference in saying that accumulating
bombs and weapons will end war on the one hand, and that teaching people to kill will end killing, on
On the other hand, we doneed armies, weapons, the police... and by thatreasoning, it is quite logical
and rational to teach children to fight. We live in a dangerous world, and fighting, shooting guns, and
probably learning to handle automatic weapons are skills that we all should have some familiarity
with. If thatwas the rationale for teaching kids to learn the dirty, dangerous, brutal skills of killing, I
would applaud it, or at the least acknowledge the correctness of the logic. But it isn't. We are taught
that martial skills teach discipline, coordination, strength, and so forth. True enough. But so do
acrobatics, tumbling, weightlifting, swimming, basketball, tennis, ballet, modern dance... shall I go on?
But the latter do notteach the infliction of pain and injury, as do the martial skills.
So my indirect response is: isn't there some other way to train children to treat others with respect
than teaching them to fight? I would hope so.
Steven Ravett Brown