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Assisting Your Sensei

When you assist the sensei, you should do four things: (1) try your best; (2) do as instructed; (3) ask if you are not sure; and (4) ask before you do anything else.

The first item speaks for itself.

The second is very important. If your sensei asks you to teach a student the first five movements of Pinan Shodan, teach those movements and those movements only. Do not teach the entire kata or another kata. Teach those five movements.

If the student learns very quickly or by chance already knew those movements, ask your sensei what he would like you to do. Don't assume that you should move on.

The sensei might want the student to concentrate on those five movements. He might want to limit to the student to those five movements so that he can work with another group (who had already learned those movements) in the next session.

Also, a student might do well learning five movements. But if you teach him 20 movements, he might get confused, forget the movements, or form bad habits. It is better to learn a few movements well than to learn many movements poorly.

As for the third item, the student might ask you questions that you cannot answer. Don't make up answers. Tell the student that you will ask the sensei or a senior. None of us know everything. In my dojo, I am the sensei. But there are many things that I do not know. If I don't know the answer, I will consult with my seniors or other sensei.

When you have done what the sensei has asked, you should ask him what he would like you to do next. This might be a good opportunity for the sensei to look over the student to see if he understood what you taught or has any questions.

In my dojo, I intend for all students to eventually become teachers. As a result, I want students to learn to teach. A student does not have to be a black belt to teach. I remember running classes all by myself before I was a black belt.

The main rule when you are assisting is to ask the sensei before doing anything beyond what you were asked to do.


Charles C. Goodin