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"Boiling" Students

I had this discussion with my Sensei during my recent visit to Okinawa.

One of our tasks as Sensei is to motivate our students to try hard. Some instructors accomplish this by being very demanding, strict, yelling, imposing peer pressure, etc. Through such methods, the students will usually try hard.

Some instructors give lots of external motivations -- rank, titles, awards, etc. Again, some students will respond to this.

But this is a bit like boiling water. While you apply great heat, the water will boil. But as soon as you remove the heat, the water will stop boiling very quickly. I believe that Gichin Funakoshi also wrote about this.

And after a while, it will take more and more to continue to motivate students who have grown used to being prodded or flattered.

As Sensei, it is not enough for us to simply apply heat to our students in order to make them boil. If we are not there -- or giving them things -- they will quickly stop boiling.

Instead, we should do our best to encourage our students to light their own fires so that they will boil themselves -- whether we are there or not. We need to ignite our students so that their fires will be self-sustaining.

How do we do this? Most of all it is by our example. If we are on "fire" with Karate, they too might catch this fever. Our interest and enthusiasm could be contagious.

If we set a good example, they might strive to practice Karate for a lifetime... long after we are gone.


Charles C. Goodin