The five tenets of Tae Kwon-Do are a model for a student’s behavior. It is through these guiding principles that one’s character is developed and nourished. Every Tae Kwon-Do student memorizes the tenets and applies each belief into their life.
We’re going to highlight one tenet each week in this five-post series on the Tenets of Tae Kwon-Do. We hope you enjoy these stories and come back to learn about the others.
1. Courtesy (Ye Ui)
My wife and I had breakfast awhile ago at this little diner on the east side called Charlie’s. A large covered porch with green trim skirts the restaurant’s street side entrance. We climbed the porch stairs and felt the wooden planks creak beneath our feet as we walked across the deck.
While opening the door for my wife, I noticed an elderly man struggling up the stairs behind us. Out of breath, the man made his way across the old wooden porch to where I stood holding the door for him. I said, “Here you go, sir. After you.”
The old man walked by me and snarled, “Ahh, shut your ass!” I was shocked. When I sat down and told my wife what had just happened, I became a little upset. What’s his deal? There’s no reason to act that way. All I did was hold the door open for the old guy. But then I thought, maybe my actions offended him, that instead of being nice, he thought I was showing pity towards an elderly person. Or, maybe he was just having a rough day. Who knows, right?
So I decided to buy the guy’s breakfast anonymously. A long time ago, a stranger surprised me by paying for my meal, and I’ve never forgotten how I felt. I was overcome with incredible gratitude. I just couldn’t believe that a random unknown person would buy my lunch. It was the coolest experience.
I waived the waitress over and arranged the whole thing. She promised not to tell him who paid the bill, but the old guy came to his own conclusion. He turned my way, glared me down with his gray eyes, and growled. Literally, he growled. Like a dog. Right there in the middle of the diner.
It was a really strange day.
Courtesy is the showing of politeness in one’s behavior toward others. Simply put be nice, display kindness, and respect one another. You should always demonstrate courtesy without any expectations.
I tell the kids courtesy is when your teacher drops some papers and you pick them up without being asked, or helping to carry groceries out for someone without expecting a tip. You’ll be surprised at all the little things you can do throughout the day. Even just smiling at someone can change their mood.
We will all encounter our own version of a grumpy old man, that one person who just will not accept our politeness for whatever reason. That’s okay, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try.
This is the first post in a five-part series on the Tenets of Tae Kwon-Do.
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