What does it mean to be a sensei?
Irrespective of what rank it may define, a sensei at his or her core is a teacher, regardless of rank. When you are a sensei all you can really do is guide a student. True there are fundamentals that must be learned, but after the foundation is set all the teacher really can do is guide. Occasionally I marvel at the importance placed upon rank in the various organizations I have been exposed to. When distilled to its essence, rank only means " I have been doing this longer than you have." When that is truly understood, the higher the rank the more indebted the practitioner is to the newer students, the higher the obligation to pass on the knowledge learned and acquired throughout the years. Yet even with this passing of knowledge each student takes his/her own path.
So what makes a good teacher? A good teacher is flexible - Able to adapt to the changing dynamics of the situation and each individual student.
A good teacher does not impart truth but reveals it for the student to find- They allow the student to make the discoveries necessary to advance along their prospective paths at their own pace.
A good teacher is not a slave to routine- Although a lesson plan may be used a good teacher can change if the situation demands it.
A good teacher does not make clones of him/herself-recognizing the individuality of each student. He does not impose his own will or influence , but rather allows the student to grow and flourish, expressing him/herself.
The ideal teacher shows the student how to think, not what to think.
A good teacher gives due recognition-The good teacher is is plentiful with complements when due and correction when necessary.
I have had the opportunity and good fortune to have excellent teachers in my very short path in the martial way. I have also heard of poor teaching methods and have learned what not to do.
If you are ever given the privilege of teaching, take it as one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a student , regardless of rank, and apply yourself with all sincerity and seriousness to the task. Never forgetting that a few doses of humor can also go a long way.
strong spirit- strong mind- strong body
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