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If you were a sensei, would you tolerate a student with poor character but good technique? The student lies, cheats, steals, and is violent... but is very good at Karate. Would you allow him to remain in your dojo?

I'm sure the answer is no. Character is the first and most important issue. Technique is secondary. A student with a good character is infinitely more valuable than a student with good technique. In fact, you must ask how a student with poor character was allowed to develop good technique. Something is wrong.

Now reverse the question. If you were a student, would you tolerate a teacher with poor character but good technique? You might think this is a rediculous question, bit it is not. Would you be willing to overlook a teacher's character shortcomings because of his superior technique, rank, titles, lineage, power, or connections?

The answer must be the same. Character is the first and most important issue. A student cannot remain with a teacher with poor character. Karate teaches character first. Is the student learning Karate to develop a poor character?

Sometimes a student must leave a teacher. It happens. The student should be polite and handle the matter with dignity. There is a saying that even if it takes 20 years to find a genuine sensei, it is well worth it.

Nothing justifies poor character. A high ranking black belt with poor character is far worse than a new student with poor character -- because he should know better. A teacher should be as demanding of himself as he is of his students.

Character is always the first and most important issue.

It is truly a fortunate student who can admire his sensei equally for his fine character and technique. Such a student will have a rewarding Karate life.


Charles C. Goodin