Monday, October 31, 2005

Kaleidoscope: Sensei

Each one of us become a kaleidoscope picture of the influence, and effects that those we meet in life have on our developement. From the day we are born when our formation relies on the community around us to help us understand what is good, and what is bad, all the way until the present where we react, and perceive, we are influenced by all the people around us. Although a black belt had to put forth the time, energy, and effort individually to get to the place where they are at, since no one can do the work for you. Whether the black belt likes it or not, their formation was affected by the people they met along the path up the mountain.

I would say that the main person who affects your formation as a karate student is your Sensei. At this point in my path towards Shodan, I would like to remember fondly the various Sensei who have affected my path. When you consider how young I am in the arts, it is amazing how many Sensei have invested themselves into my training. I have been blessed to meet so many Sensei who have lived up to the same tremendously positive standards. They have shown patience when there was true reason for frustration. They have shown an ability to have a sense of humour without losing the seriousness that one needs for training. They have revealed to me that karate is about challenging, and uplifting the character of a person through the tools of developing the physical. They have shown me that respect is something that goes both ways. They have made each student feel unique, important, and capable of meeting the expectations of their development.

In this addition to my blog, I will list my Sensei by order that I met them. My deepest respect, and gratitude goes to each, and every one of them for the gift of their instructions to me. I cannot place any one of them above the other, the same way that I cannot say that I love one of my children more than the other six. Love, gratitude, and respect multiplies with the addition of more people in our lives. These Sensei have taught me so many things that I could not list everything, however, I will attempt to list a few of the lessons that I have learned, and that I will carry with me when I stand in front of everyone on my testing day.

My first Sensei: Sensei Crockford. In one word, he taught me “dedication”. He lives what he believes, and stands for what is right. There is no halfway effort, but to put forth your best in all you do. His influence changed the life of thousands of difficult high school teenagers, and encouraged them to seek forth for a better life. He brought forth strength out of weakness, sometimes the student responding only to the fact that Sensei believed in them. He won the hearts of his students.

My first Internet Sensei: Sensei Danelutti. In one word, he taught me “wisdom”. He opened all the doors, and windows of what is possible, what is probable, and what is fantasy in the world of martial arts. He met me on an internet forum when I was still freshly breaking in my new 9th kyu yellow belt, and he treated me like I was his equal. He started revealing to me bits and pieces of all the knowledge that he had accumulated through his 40 plus years of training in the arts. He has shared my joys, sorrows, challenges, frustrations, and humour throughout my WHOLE karate path, walking by my side in spirit.

Sensei Ingrilli: She taught me “Persistence”. Her guidance in coping with the struggles of being a mature student and fighting through the limitations of one’s body through various exercises and stretches was extremely important to my continuing in karate. She shared her experiences, and her courage with me. I learned about the various demands, and challenges of training in karate as a woman, as someone over 40, and as a mother.

My first Japanese Master: Sensei Yaguchi. He taught me “authority”. He showed me how authority does not need to be defended, or forced upon others.. it just exists of itself. Friendly, open, willing to share his time, energy, knowledge, and effort he makes each student feel comfortable, and capable. Quick to bring you to the realization that you have to make it “your karate”, to own, and take responsibility for your progress.. in a way to become your own authority... and yet, to respect the authority of those who have travelled the path ahead of you.

Sensei Carrasco: He taught me “Reality”. He showed me that being honest with oneself helps one to bring themselves to their real goal, which is to be happy. Encouraging us to be real with our training, and to apply ourselves fully. Revealing that our bodies are in more danger from our simple daily habits, and diet than from a random self defense encounter on the street. Looking for the Ultimate Truth in our lives so that we can realize how much we are worth, and to develop true humility.

Sensei Thomas, and Sensei Hinds: They taught me “Unity”. This Sensei husband, and wife team showed me how one can find balance in their training with their lives. They encourage, and expect “team work” wherein all members are as valued regardless of their skill level. No one is left aside, or behind in the goals of the group. Their efforts to build community among the karate ka of my city are so admirable. As hosts of events wherein bridges are built instead of walls, they have inspired me.

Sensei Porath: He taught me “Trust”. There is a story to explain this... It was my first seminar. I was a white belt, and I was lost as to how to do the combination. There were plenty of Sensei walking around helping, but I was too timid, and afraid to ask them for help. However, this one kind gentleman black belt placed himself next to me to train. I thought that it was because there was no room up there with the higher belts. I looked his way all the time, his movements were slower than everyone elses.. I could follow him. As I noticed that he was encourageing me to follow his guidance, I gained in confidence in this fellow student. His smiles encouraged me even more. At one point, I felt so much trust in him, that I sent him a look confusion at the terms being called out, and he answered me instantly. It wasn’t until one of his students called him “Sensei” that I realized that all along he had been helping me, and not training beside me. Over and over again, Sensei Porath has taught me about the meaning of trust.

Sensei Marr: He taught me “Understanding”. Through his teaching, all of a sudden, I understood what my body was doing... I could feel where my balance was going off, and where my hand should be. He showed me that it would take more time, and effort to gain the right movement, and that I would have to adapt to my limitations. He revealed more than one way to do the same thing, and offered me hope that I could manage to find an answer to any problem that faces me.

Sanbohnim Wee: He taught me “Flexibility”. Reaching across the miles from Australia, Sanbohnim Wee pried open my eyes to the similarities, and differences inherent in all martial arts forming within me a karate ka that embraces so much more than just what she experiences in her dojo. He challenged me to look beyond what I see, and to lift my eyes above the edge of the walls with which I’ve surrounded myself. He enticed the warrior within me to rise to the demands of my art.

Sensei Keeling: He taught me “Growth” He showed me that one is never finished learning. no matter how much they have already learnt. Each time I read his articles on the internet at I find something that I didn’t see before. That is the depth of his words.. they challenge you at each stage of your ability to grasp the concepts that he presents to you, and to run with them. I really treasure the gift that he has given the world wide karate community through his website.

I am grateful to the gifts that these Sensei have placed into my path. I will bring forth all of the various teachings that they gave to me when I stand in front of everyone on my belt test. May I bring my Sensei much pride, and satisfaction through my performance.


Colin Wee said...

Mir - I've never been called a Sabumnim before, but thank you for the compliment anyway. It is good to thank people who have helped you along. Sometimes we tend to be overcritical. Once I caught myself looking at how one of my earlier teachers taught me, and how I thought he could have done a better job. Then I thought, without the man's generosity, I would not be where I am and have the skills that I have. With that, I began to focus on his strenghts, rather than his weaknesses. Thus he continues to be a great teacher even now.


supergroup7 said...

I'm sorry that I spelt the title incorrectly, Colin. I truly feel that you more than deserve the compliment, and more! If ever I can see myself going to Australia, you will find me at your doorstep with my gi in hand.

Colin Wee said...

Have I known you for so long Mir? Amazing. :-)

Have a good 2007!

Love from the Wee Clan, Perth.