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Wearing Your Sensei's Rank

Once in a while, I will encounter a student who "wears his Sensei's rank." By this I mean that the student acts as if he has his Sensei's seniority and status. This typically occurs when the Sensei is very high ranking.

Let's say that the Sensei is an 8th dan and his student is a 2nd dan. The student should know his place. However, in the presence of a 3rd dan from another Sensei who might be lower ranking than his Sensei (such as a 6th dan), he will try to act like the senior.

The 2nd dan is trying to act like an 8th dan, which, of course, is rediculous and inappropriate. The 2nd dan acts like he has a chip on his shoulder. This can be particulary bad if the student perceives that someone is acting disprespectfully toward his Sensei. "How dare you!" he might bellow, again acting out of place.

The junior's place is to quietly assist his Sensei -- to be there when needed, to be seen, not heard. When he acts like a "squeeky wheel", he is doing a disservice to his Sensei.

Students should know their place. High instructors should make sure that their students do not act disrespectfully or inappropriately.

If your Sensei is high ranking, that does not make you high ranking. If your Sensei is famous, that does not make you famous. If your Sensei is skilled, that does not make you skilled. If you have a great Sensei, you should just feel fortunate -- and humble.


Charles C. Goodin