An Uplifting Experience - The Gift within a Gift


Part of the fun of being a martial arts teacher is that you get to say some pretty strange things and people (hopefully) think you're just being deep.

Here goes!



Santa Claus is coming to town and the Japanese have five different words for “wife”.


The holiday season is fast approaching. As always, it will be a time for gift-giving and thoughtfulness. We relish the warm feeling of generosity every bit as much as the excitement of actually getting all that great stuff.


Yet, we’re also aware that commercialism annually assaults that spirit and can spoil the whole idea. The question is how do we defend ourselves? Maintaining the holiday spirit is essential to getting the most enjoyment out of this potentially wonderful tradition. That’s where the Japanese wives come in.


You see, besides five words for “wife”, they also have two words for “giving”: Agemasu and Kuremasu. Literally, the first means “to raise up and humbly present”, while the second means merely “to hand down”. In terms of the giver’s attitude, the different implications are apparent, but what of the receiver?


You may know that gift-giving is an important Japanese custom. When they present gifts, which they do quite often, they actually do raise it up slightly. This also allows the receiver to accept it with an equal gesture of gratitude by “taking it down”.


A small thing perhaps, but it does allow each person the opportunity to acknowledge the spirit of the gift. Better still, is the non-verbal communication of sincerity that passes between them. It’s a great feeling. Give it a try to see what I mean!


In our dojo we observe this custom when presenting belts, cerificates, new weapons, adult refreshments, etc. But, this isn’t only for students or just in the dojo. For those who are unfamiliar with being offered something, it might seem a little odd at first. Yet, when they do get the message, the look in their eye is a gift all its own.


However, you might want to be careful at times like, say, Christmas morning. Children often exhibit a certain 'aggression' towards those who interfer with their prime mission – OPENING GOODIES! Instead, be sure to use this gesture to make special moments more, well, special.


In a way, this article also speaks to what we beieve budo and our dojo are about: It's not what you do, but how and why that are most important. Others teach how karate is done; we teach how to make it work! For our students, happiness, health, and success in their daily lives, is the higher purpose they can aspire to.


Humility and gratitude. What better gift wrappings could we ask?