Character Chats

Greeting People With Courtesy

How do we greet people with courtesy?

Here at True Balance Karate we have a social, emotional learning program called True Character.

I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio. I have two master’s degrees in education, and we have developed this program to best meet the needs of all of our students here, our youngest child to our oldest adult.


This month we’re talking about courtesy.

Earlier, we talked about the seven magic words of respect. Yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am, please, thank you and you’re welcome.

And how a lot of courtesy comes from showing that kindness and using those respectful manners and consideration for others.

Last week, we talked about good manners and bad manners, and what that might look like with family at dinner time or in the classroom at school or in the workplace with our colleagues.

First Impressions

This week, we are talking about meeting and greeting people.

How do we introduce ourselves to people that we haven’t met before? It’s something that we practice here at the studio a lot.

We have a whole week where the children and adults, the students I should say, are paired up with a partner and we rotate through partners a lot.

And each time they get a new partner the expectation and the coaching becomes reach across, shake their hands, say, “hello, my name is” and introduce yourself.

One of the things that we encourage the students to do is to have a question ready to get to know that other person in class.

For the adults it might be what sport do you really like to watch? For the kids it might be, what grade are you in?

We joke that sometimes we ask what their favorite ice cream is only because it’s an icebreaker, if you will.

We encourage that not just during that one particular partner week, but every time we do partner drills, which we incorporate fairly frequently when it comes to that kind of thing.

Reach across, shake their hand, say, hello, my name is. Make eye contact, we don’t want to be looking at anybody’s belly. We don’t want to be looking at anybody’s toes unless we’re seeing if their toes are painted.

But even then we want to make sure that we’ve made eye contact, that we smile, that we aren’t standing with our arms crossed because this is very closed off, but that we are open and welcoming and encouraging.

The best way to go about that is to make sure that our expression looks opening and welcoming and encouraging.

So making sure that the younger students understand how to do that kind of a powerful greeting, if you will. Us adults, we already kind of know how to do it.

I personally get a little nervous or anxious when I do that one. However, it’s part of the courtesy. It’s part of the respect. It’s part of the mannerisms of what we wind up doing here at the studio.

Public Speaking

One of the things that we also work on and teach is some public speaking, making eye contact with the group.

Behind me, you’ll see my community service project board and we encourage the students to, when they are testing for black belts, come up with a service project.

One of the kids led a couple of the neighborhood kids to clean up his neighborhood. Another volunteered time with a Toys for Tots kind of a campaign.

But when they wind up having these kinds of projects, it gives them an opportunity to use a lot of what we wind up teaching here in the classroom.

Those magic words of respect, making eye contact, showing that you’re listening, introducing yourself because you’re walking in to volunteer your time.

Hello, my name is Master H. I’m here to help you with, whatever the project might be.

Learning Communication

My daughter likes to help out at the humane society with the dogs and cats. When she was younger, she did a weeklong summer camp with them, and that would be how we wound up adopting one of our dogs.

But when we went to adopt him, we had her walk in and talk to them about why she was there.

It’s just a good way to help the students, especially our younger students, build some confidence to advocate for themselves to express what it is that they’re looking for, what they need, what they’re trying to find.

And it starts with knowing how to make eye contact, knowing how to put your hand out and shake without crushing their hand, knowing how to speak clearly, instead of mumbling.

All of that is part of our courtesy, it’s part of our kindness, our manners, our consideration for everybody around us.

Making Connections

I find it to be a pretty powerful thing when a new student walks into class here at the studio and is immediately greeted by one of us and is immediately introduced to a couple of students who then help them go through their class, go through their lesson, show them how to do it. They become pretty good friends in that first moment in class.

And knowing that these kinds of courtesy, respectful mannerisms are being taught, makes my heart proud.

Thanks, and we’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here