Who is this ‘sensei’ character that is so central to our learning of Aikido? Or any other martial arts?
What can a sensei teach?
To a beginner belt, a sensei can help, very much like how a baby walker helps a baby learn to walk. step by step. a sensei guide the new aikido student through the pace of the Aikido fraternity. All the technicalities and formalities of the dojo, something a little bit about the Japanese way of the martial arts, Budo.
A sensei’s presence is very large, liken a parent lion always nearby its cubs. this is because, these Aikido students can become confused very easily with other techniques. Others may have joined due to some stereotypes about what they can do in a dojo. A Sensei stands firmly with reality and blot out all these distractions from a beginner’s mind.
Slowly, if the new Aikidoka proceeds, a couple of years later, the sensei becomes someone who is much like a sadist. He will push the aikidoka to physical limits. and expects the aikidoka to perform grace under pressure. He is still availble to offer advise in the technicalities of a techniques, but not so much now, as the aikido student will have to find his own way, unique to his /her body, to execute seemingly cookie cutter similar techniques.
And if the Aikidoka stays yet even longer, say 10 years? What else can the sensei offer? the sensei offers himself as an example of who the student aikidoka can potentially become. after all the trials and tribunals, the sensei is where he is today, the central figure in the dojo, offering resolutions.
The sensei also offers the aikidoka a chance to teach himself. the student aikido will be directed to see his own faults, and face his own weakness fiercely, learn from his own mistake, by allowing the student Aikidoka to teach himself. A truly exceptional sensei is a person who allows the student Aikidoka to be himself, with Aikido, and never stands in the way and tells the student: ‘yes!’ ‘no!’. the sensei allows the student to discover Aikido within himself. A truly exceptional sensei sees the seed of aikido is grows in the student and never stands in the way of the sunlight. he is happy to see the Aikido seed bear fruit, and will give some fertilizer in times of need.
A truly exceptional Aikido sensei is very, very resourceful, he can find growth in the barest of the mind. when the student thinks that there is all there is, the sensei can find somemore to give the student. You can make infinite amount of mistakes and there is always forgiveness with a truly exceptional sensei, even when it seems globally unforgivable, you can sin the mother of all sins in Aikido and you will be pardoned. you cannot help but be naturally happy when a truly exceptional sensei is around. He makes the dullest most boring student smile, comes to class, come hell or high water.
A truly exceptional sensei allows the student Aikidoka to do the technique, reasonably well. and never uses his superior skill and experience to show the student that he is better, which is why he is the sensei, “duh”. He yields to the student Aikidoka’s lock, even when it is obviously ineffective against the sensei. He does so to encourage the student aikidoka to keep trying, even against a more skilled Aikidoka like the sensei himself.
The truly exceptional Aikido sensei, can give the student a warm and fuzzy feeling, makes the student feels powerful and helpless at the same time. a truly exceptional sensei is almost never found on youtube, but he can be found where i train. This truly exceptional Sensei is, Harry Sensei.