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Finding A Sensei -- Part 3

If you find that a Sensei has a good character -- CONGRATULATIONS! That is 90% of the task.

I want to mention two characteristics that do not matter.

First, it does not matter whether a Sensei is a man or woman. This should be self-evident. While it is true that there are more male Karate instructors than female instructors, there are more males in Congress too. That does not mean that women are any less qualified.

Second, the Sensei's race or country of origin does not matter, except to the extent that it might affect communications. Some people might think that an Okinawan or Japanese person would be better qualified to teach Karate. This would only make them better, possibly, at being Okinawan or Japanese. Karate is a skill and art -- not a genetic characteristic.

I have trained with two Japanese Sensei who did not speak much English. I learned a lot from both of them, but I think that I also missed a lot, especially with respect to terminology. Of course, I could have and really should have learned Japanese. The point I am making is that language is an issue. It is more difficult to learn if you cannot communicate.

I have met many fine Japanese and Okinawan Sensei. I have also met some who were rather poor at Karate. I have meet many fine American born Sensei. I have also met some who were rather poor at Karate. Where the Sensei were born was not the issue, nor was the color of their skin.

Some people think of Karate in romantic terms. A Sensei is supposed to look like Mr. Miyagi. Noriyuki Pat Morita did an excellent job of portraying the Okinawan character of Mr. Miyagi. But Pat Morita was born in the United States, was not Okinawan, and did not learn Karate (he learned a little Judo while interned during World War II). I believe that Pat Morita was a great actor and an equally great person. I was lucky to meet him and admire him very much. But his ancestry alone would not have made him a great Karate Sensei. That would have also required Karate skill (among other things).

Thus, once a Sensei with a good character is found, do not be distracted by gender, race, or national origin. These are not relevant.


Charles C. Goodin