The Sensei

The relationship of a sensei to the dojo is very difficult to define, as it encompasses many varying aspects of life.  The sensei must flow through the student in many levels of communication and reach to the far corners of their life.  A sensei is a father and at times a mother; an adviser and a chastiser.  A sensei, though different, is the same as everyone else.  He (She) is human in a controlled way and they deserve respect, for they have travelled long upon the way.  A sensei should be a good teacher – by this is meant that he (she) can convey the appropriate knowledge to the students at the correct time in the best manner; he (she) must be able to see them and their problems as they never can – impartially.  A sensei shows no favour; indeed, as progress is attained he (she) becomes harder on those who progress.  He (she) is kind but firm to the beginner on the path.  He (she) advises in an appropriate manner on the spiritual aspects of the art, and is always a friendly ear that listens but is not moved.  Many people are unable to see a sensei properly, as they tend to categorize him (her) into either teacher or friend.  He (she) is neither.  He (she) is both – and more.  He (she) sees a student in a free way, unmoved by the external face or appearance, and he (she) helps in the best way.  If this is to be hard, he (she) is so; to be soft, then he (she) is soft; but always it is in the best manner for the students, for the sensei’s heart is forever with them.  Often a sensei may test his (her) students by taking views diametrically opposed to theirs and watching their reactions.  He (she) will never praise.  In martial arts silence is the best praise.  He (she) will note what affects the student in and out of the dojo, how they act with their friends, family and work and act accordingly.

He (She) will put forward untruths to see if they are accepted; say nothing when he (she) should speak volumes; he (she) is kind when there is no reason to be.  He (she) may be tyrannous or compassionate, but through all these externals his (her) heart is forever with them.  He (she) listens when they speak but can see the reasons for their speech; he (she) is unmoved but can move.  He (she) is forever active even in a subdued way, he (she) gives while others take, and he (she) asks no rewards save proficiency of mind and body.  He (she) is sad, sometimes unhappy; let down and often abused; but he (she) forever holds to the way, for that way is him (her).  Though outsiders may change, the sensei does not, though he (she) can adapt at will completely; the inward ideals are always there.  He (she) may be abused, but he (she) thanks in return; blamed or criticised, he (she) persists.  He (she) persists when there is no reason to – that is why he (she) is a sensei.

On average it takes 2,000 students to make one worthwhile sensei.  If you have one – take care of them.

(Taken from notes of Mushindo Karate Do 1971)
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