Trust and Respect

Having recently turned 16, her mind should have been on getting her beginners drivers license. Some of her friends had already gotten theirs, and she had talked her parent's ears off about learning to drive since becoming a teenager. Her mom rarely used her car, and they used to talk about how much fun it would be sharing. But today her mind was on something else. Today she got the news she'd been dreading for days, and tonight at dinner, she told her parents.

“Mom? Dad?” She began, making sure she had their full attention. “I'm pregnant.”

“The father?” they asked, their worst nightmare unfolding before them.

“My karate instructor.”

Two words came to mind when I was told this true story about a young teenage woman living in my city – Trust and Respect. As a matter of fact, the young woman who related this story to me quit the karate club when that same karate instructor came onto her. She was absolutely disgusted and asked me if all black belts were like that. She then wondered aloud whether or not his wife and kids had seen the baby.

The word trust literally means; a firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing. Something committed into the care of another; charge.

The word respect literally means; to feel or show deferential regard for; esteem. To avoid violation of or interference with.

Very recently the hockey world was rocked by allegations of sexual interference by a particular coach, and then again some time later by several members of an arena staff. Who would've believed it? Despite the isolated antics of a few select professional players, the game of hockey, in the minds of most, was as pure as the driven snow.

The fact of the matter is no facet of life is exempt from sexual predators. We're reading about it now more than ever. Victims who felt shame at the time are now coming forward, years after the fact, to tell their stories.

In my lectures and seminars on self-defense, I describe sexual assault, in all its forms, as mental murder. It destroys something inside, something so personal that it continues to assault you throughout your lifetime. Perhaps this is the reason so many victims are coming forward years after the incident. It has continued to hurt them all their life, and perhaps because of others coming forward, or society's changing views on sexual assault, they find the courage to finally face their offender.

For years I used to teach self-defense as part of the physical education curriculum in 13 high schools. Each year I met at least 3 women between the ages of 16 and 19 who had been raped. I don't know why they felt they could come to me, but I'm glad they did. I learned a great deal, and together got some of them some much needed help.

I've given keynote speeches on self-defense for various service groups and corporations, and the stories I hear before and after dinner are horrendous. People pinching, groping, feeling, squeezing and sexually assaulting verbally. Co-workers, teachers, students, clergy, police officers and the list goes on. As a matter of fact, a good friend of mine was attacked and sexually assaulted by her Bay Street lawyer in his uptown Toronto office on a Saturday afternoon, not ten minutes after her husband and their business partner left the meeting. The lawyer had asked her to stay behind a few minutes because he had something he needed to discuss with her. When she wouldn't comply with his first sexual demand, he attacked her. It would appear sexual assault could happen anywhere.

But in martial arts clubs? A place where parents bring their lives most precious gifts and entrust them to strangers who take their money to teach the arts of self-defense? In a place where honor, respect, trust and self-esteem are so revered that they're touted in most martial arts school advertising as the very reason to bring your children in the first place? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was always taught that gaining trust and respect of someone, anyone, then using it as a tool against them to take advantage for any purpose was wrong.

Are you truly worthy of the trust and respect martial arts instructors have traditionally come to receive? You know if you are. You are the epitome of what society thinks a martial arts instructor should be.

Trust and respect.

Character check here everybody.

Till next time, stay sharp!

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