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In your study of karate, no one will be more important to you than your teacher, your sensei The word is made up of two ideograms, sen, which means "ahead" or "precede," and sei, which means "life.'' Put together  they  create a new word that means "one who is ahead of you in life.” Your sensei, your teacher, is your elder and is deserving of respect.

In Japan, teachers are considered to be more than just instructors of a particular subject. They are regarded as role models for their students in all aspects of life. Japanese teachers of math or social studies, for example, are expected not only to know about their subjects but also lead exemplary personal lives, so that their students may look up to them. This is doubly true for a sensei of a martial art such as karate.

You should respect your sensei and behave accordingly, listening carefully to his or her instructions and teachings. Your sensei is someone who has learned much from many years of intense training. He also has your best interest at heart as you pursue your own studies of karate.

Once there was a famous karate sensei in Japan whose training produced national champions. His classes were very demanding, until one day, a thin, sickly boy came and asked to be taught karate. After the boy was accepted into class, the other students saw that their sensei was paying more attention to the boy than anyone else. The boy was not very strong, nor was he coordinated, so the sensei would often leave one of his other students in charge of the class to take the boy aside for individual instruction.

                This was quite frustrating for the other students, especially those who were expected to enter the national competitions and win. Who cared about just one boy, who wasn’t very talented anyway, when national championships were at stake? So the top students of the school went to their sensei to demand that he devote more attention to them.

                To their surprise, their sensei said, “You are all very talented karate students. You will no doubt succeed no matter who your instructor is. Therefore, you may leave and study at another school. The boy whom you speak, on the other hand, is not naturally skilled as you are. He truly needs my abilities as a teacher to guide him properly in training. “

When the students recognized their sensei’s wisdom and generosity, they bowed their heads and begged his pardon.  Afterward, they helped in training the boy, until he eventually grew to become a national champion himself.

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