To say that manners are a lost art in our society today would be an understatement. Rudeness runs rampant but do we still need manners?
Most martial arts still practice some form of manners but the reasons for it may surprise you. Manners were a form of self-defense.
In feudal Japan there was no law except might makes right. A samurai could, if offended (real or just perceived), pull out his sword and cut down the unfortunate person with impunity. Out of this reality grew a codified system of manners in order to not offend and prevent danger.
In the European cultures a handshake is considered a polite way of greeting someone. I’m sure you’ve all seen some time period movie where the two warriors meet and greet each other by clasping forearms (a predecessor to the handshake). This offering of an arm without a weapon was meant to put the person at ease and to communicate your peaceful intentions.
In today’s society you can’t just haul off and smack someone who is rude to you (even if they really deserve it), the law does not allow it. So do we as martial artists still need to practice manners?
Absolutely, to battle the stress of rude people.
Yes sir, may I, please, and thank you can protect you from their stupidity. It doesn’t matter if they’re rude, as a martial artist, be better than them. Insulate yourself in the understanding that no matter what they throw at you, you will maintain your composure and manners, its self-defense for the mind.