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Sensei As Superstars?

We have to be very careful about how we view people and things, including Karate Sensei. When a person is on the covers of magazines, the covers of videos and DVDs, the covers of books, and is viewed as a "world" authority, we tend to think of that person as a celebrity. You will notice that I did not say that the person is a Karate Sensei. We would think of any person with such notoriety as a celebrity of sorts.

When that person is a Karate Sensei, there is an additional assumption many people make -- that the person must be a great fighter. After all, if the Sensei is on so many covers, he must be tough. This assumes that being a great Sensei requires that the person be a great fighter. Does it? Perhaps so, but not in the conventional, sport sense. Man to man, in a ring, I'm pretty sure that many Karate "greats" might not do so well. But in unexpected self-defense, they might excel.

The point is that we have to be very careful of our perceptions. If you are standing in line at a seminar to have a book autographed by a visiting instructor, you might find yourself reacting to him as if he is a celebrity. After all, celebrities sign books and people stand in lines for them. But the Karate Sensei might not think of himself as a celebrity, a superstar, a master or a "great" anything. He might just think of himself as a humble student.

Do we stand in lines to have books autographed by humble students? Do we put humble students on the covers of books, DVDs, videos, magazines, and on posters? I think not.

The medium largely determines the subject and how we think about it.

Some Karate instructors might act like celebrities. Most do not. We have to be very careful to react to instructors as they are, not how they might appear to be in various media. Marketing people are highly paid to determine how someone or something appears for a desired result -- that you will purchase their product.

I think that most Karate Sensei are super people, not superstars.


Charles C. Goodin