Many years ago when we entered a karate dojo and started training, the first dojo protocol we were taught was the line-up at the beginning and end of class with the Sensei standing in front facing us the students. We bowed to the front in honor of our ancestral heritage, and then we bowed to the Sensei as a gesture of respect for the teacher. As time passes, by enduring incessant training while accumulating years of experience, we find ourselves standing in front facing the students. The students are bowing to us to express their respect to us as their Sensei. Our role in the dojo is now reversed. So what have we accomplished? To be worthy of the position in front? What did we achieve in order to earn the respect of the Students? The word Sensei is written in two Kanji characters: The literal meaning of the Kanji characters are:
“Sen”, meaning before or arriving early
“Sei”, meaning life or being born
Putting the two characters together gives the meaning of “being born before” or “living early”. In other words, the two characters project the meaning of: “the one who lived before” “the one who was born earlier” or“the one who has lived and experienced life before” Accordingly, the word “Sensei” is used to refer to an individual who has previously walked the path, learned the lessons and experienced the process. In karate, the Sensei is one who has a mastery of the martial arts and possesses profound life experience. The individual is well versed in the depth and breadth of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of karate, and is fully qualified to teach the art to others who wished to learn. In short, the individual is now a teacher of
the way of karate (hence karate-do), a tutor in life – a true Sensei.
Attaining the position of Senseiship can be a long and arduous process that requires dedication, commitment and effort. Yet, in order to maintain the status as an accomplished Sensei, even greater dedication, stronger commitment and more effort are required