Although many people recognize the word Sensei as meaning teacher, the kanji for sensei (先生) means ahead, life or in other words a person that is ahead of you on life’s journey. The relationship between an individual and a person that has “already been there” is unique and worthy of discussion. If knowledge is power, then a wise and experienced teacher, willing to share his knowledge, is very powerful indeed.
We enter this world not knowing and our perceptions of reality are based totally on our experiences and what we are taught by others. Not knowing what is real can cause doubt in our own abilities and the world around us. The single most effective way of knowing something is possible,is by knowing that someone else has already achieved that specific goal or objective. Identifying your personal goals and identifying a person that has already achieved some level of expertise in that area is a major step towards success.
In life as well as martial arts, the value of being trained by someone with real life experience is priceless. While the world is full of mentors with endless theories and academic solutions, the proven mentor possesses both technical knowledge and a proven track record in real life situations. These teachers are worthy of the title “Sensei.”
In the martial arts world, the relationship between a teacher and a student is clearly defined. Those who understand the true value of learning from a qualified teacher appreciate the importance of respect between the sensei and student. This is a priority in the development of a true student-teacher relationship. This is one that will stand the test of time.
The sensei develops a course of action to help the student achieve his goals, while the student displays discipline and persistence while performing the suggested training. Honesty in actions and deeds is the mark of a good sensei. The teachings should enable the student to understand and distinguish the differences between quick fix solutions spouted from lesser teachers and true ageless principles of success taught in classical martial arts.
As we are now in the information age some have called the “psychozoic age”, the imperative to choose experienced and knowledgeable mentors, in all areas of our lives, is more important than ever. Unlike western society that tends to devalue the importance of teachers, in Asia teachers are given the utmost respect. Choosing your teachers well during this journey we call life and then nurturing these relationships is one of those key principles of success and martial arts mastery.