Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Never enough

It took me almost 3 years of training, but I've learned something important to my training. My Sensei will never be satisfied with my performance. If I can do 5 push ups, then he will ask for 10. If I succeed at 10, then he will ask for 20. If I reach the limit of my body, wherein it struggles to just survive, then he will ask for "one more". I realized that this is the job of a Sensei.. to pull the most out of the student, and to break the perceived limitations that chain us to only doing what makes us comfortable. A Sensei has to pull the student out of their comfort zone, and show that it is possible to achieve beyond expectations. Also, the Sensei has to be alert to signs of distress, and overtraining. It isn't good for one's health to overstress the system, and more harm and damage can happen to the person than strengthening.

What a difficult path to walk upon! What a responsibility!!
The student has to have full confidence that their Sensei has their best health, and interest in mind. The Sensei expects that the student is putting forth full effort in class. There has to be a bond of mutual trust, and respect for true learning, and improvement to take place. Is this kind of deep bond between Sensei, and student something that happens all the time? I'm guessing that it is as rare a treasure as one of those awesome marriages that last for 50 years through joys, challenges, and sorrows.

Perhaps that is why so many of the Martial arts films portray this kind of deep relationship between teacher /student? It is something that so many martial artists are attracted to, and desire to emulate.


[Mat] said...

I hope to Sensei pushes me that way when I need to be pushed that way. It hasn't happened yet.

It has only happened once. When we were with Renshi Blanchette. He pushed and pushed. That felt good.

I guess it can be hard to emulate that relationship with all different teaching styles and the fact that there are ... a lot of people in class at the same time. Still, every teacher has his/her pupil in the group. One they already see as the future Sensei. I guess that relationship starts off really early on the training stage. Near white belt for sure. But devellops into something more defined near 3rd or 4th kyu. Which is where dropouts happen.

I know I've let a 1st Kyu Shotokan student down. She took me under her wing and corrected me a lot all the time. She always was urging me to train a lot and continue as progress was showing and that I could teach children's classes. I had to tell her I was sorry for dropping out as I left. As I've said numerous times, shotokan was not for me...

I do miss the relationship I had with that person though. It made going to class that much more interesting.

Indeed being a Sensei is a great responsability. Not only one the moves you instill in the student's bodies, but also on what part of you goes in their heads.

Which represents the best part, IMO. Else, rent a dvd and copy what's done there. :-D

John Vesia said...

A popular perception of a Sensei is that of the archetypal enlightened master/guru variety. You don't want to know the word I could use to describe most of the instructors I've encountered through the years.

[Mat] said...

John, my curiosity wins.
What is that word?

supergroup7 said...

I don't think that you let anyone down by following your own path. For a short while your path converged with this Shotokan 1st kyu. You learned well because you learned that Shotokan was not what you were looking for in your training.

That comment about "rent a DVD and copy what's done there" is what many people have chosen to do, they wish to teach themselves martial arts. However, I feel that one NEEDS a Sensei who has already walked the path that one wants to travel so that he can recognize errors within you, and correct them. How can you correct yourself when you don't know what you are doing in the first place? You'd be trying to reinvent everything, and you'd learn the hard way by injuring yourself.

If I wanted to learn how to skate, ski, play golf, etc. I'd go to someone who has experience to help show me what to do. Why not martial arts?

supergroup7 said...

OOOooooooo... John... I wonder if the words that you would use to describe some of those Sensei would be appropriate for my innocent ears!

I agree.. there are awful Sensei out there. The same as there are awful coaches, teachers, scout leaders, etc. etc. In fact, I believe that one of the main messages of the movie "The Karate Kid" was how the Nasty Sensei had warped his students' perception of what martial art is about. You see the proper perspective by the character Sensei Miyagi's example.