- AT THE HEAD
OF THE CLASS
- For love of
- There exists in every dojo
a unique relationship.
- It exists between the
students, and the teacher, who is referred to in a dojo
- For a great many reasons
this relationship is often difficult to explain,
especially to anyone "on the outside of the dojo
looking in" since for the most part these people
only tend to "see what they think they see".
- To some of these onlookers
the sensei may simply be seen as the person who stands at
the head of the class and gives instructions to the
students, which they then follow until the class is over.
- To others, the sensei may
simply be seen as someone they can entrust their three
children to, so they can then happily go off shopping for
an hour or two.
- To still others, the sensei
may simply be seen as someone they pay money to each
month, in the hope that the children they drive to the
dojo will finally find the manners, courtesy, and respect
that they are so often lacking both at school, and at
- Few things in life,
however, are what they seem to be on the surface, and a
sensei is no exception.
- So just what is a sensei?
- That is a question that few
people will ever really find the answer to, and for one
very simple reason.
- To truly find the answer to
the question, "what is a sensei", what you
really need to do is, sign up for karate, put on a gi,
then step inside a good dojo, and then train under the
watchful eye of a very dedicated and reputable sensei for
the next twenty years.
- Even then there is no
guarantee that you will have the answer that you seek,
but, by the end of the twenty years I can assure you that
you will at least be walking in the right direction in
your search for the answer.
- If, however, you are like
many people in our fast paced, fast food world, and you
want the answer "now" rather than later, then
perhaps you might start by asking some of those students
who enter a dojo each day and willingly leave their sweat
on the floor in payment for all that they will learn.
- The knowledge they seek is
not free of course, it must be earned.
- Their payment is the
minutes, hours, days, months, and years, spend in proper
repetitive practice under the sensei's constant gaze and
in a dojo where the sensei plays no favourites. At each
level of their progress the student will find that the
intensity, and the work load, will constantly be
increased in keeping with any new rank that they achieve.
- To newer students, the
sensei will be patient and understanding, gently giving
over the basic building blocks of the art Shotokan karate
while at the same time making it quite clear that there
is no room for improvisation.
- To the middle kyu ranks the
sensei will be more demanding, seeking more accuracy, and
even greater effort, leaving no doubt in the minds of
these students that the effort that got them to where
they are, is not nearly enough to take them where they
want to go, still more practice is needed.
- To the senior kyu ranks on
the other hand, the sensei will be a hard task master,
seemingly never satisfied with their technique or the
effort they put out. Instead the sound of, "mo ichi
do" will constantly ring in their ears, especially
as they draw ever closer to their Sho Dan exam, and its
tightly held promise of a black belt, and the title of
- To the senior Yudansha, or
senior black belts in the dojo, their relationship with
the sensei will only now be at the point where this
unique student - teacher bond will be on the verge of
taking it's first early steps. Built up over their many
years of loyalty and hard training under the sensei's
guidance, these particular students might, if asked,
categorized their sensei as, a mentor, a father figure, a
confident, an inspiration, or even a friend.
- Yet in truth a sensei can
be all of these things at once, or none of these things
- But one thing is certain,
as a teacher, and the students main source of information
on the why, the when, and the how of karate-do, a sensei
usually will see a student and their problems in a way
that they rarely see themselves.
- As a result of an unbiased
viewpoint and years or teaching and training the sensei
will always know what to impart to each individual
student, and when they will need the knowledge. For the
primary goal of the sensei, above all else, is to take
those students in their care as far down the karate-do
road as possible, this means the goal is "for life".
- Because of this goal it is
not uncommon for a sensei's teaching and ideals to extend
beyond the walls of the dojo, spilling over into other
areas of a students life at home, at work, or into the
company of friends, and family.
- Although they can adapt at
will, a true Sensei does not change even though outsiders
may, their inward ideals and principles will remain
firmly intact at all times. They will persist when there
is no apparent reason, they will give while others take,
and they will ask for no reward, save that of loyalty,
and proficiency in mind, body, and spirit.
- That is why they are Sensei.
- So seek one for yourself
and when you find what you are looking for hold on tight,
never let go, respect them, follow their lead, and in
time if the fates are kind, you too may one day find
yourself, standing at the head of the class, all for the
love of the art.
what you think you know,
- is the
hardest part of learning.
- Part the
clouds - see the way.
objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
- of the
human spirit through physical and mental training."