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What Did They Do With It?

Who is better -- a 2nd dan who teaches a small class for children or a 5th dan who teaches no one and hardly trains?

This is a question that a Sensei must sometimes ask himself. I have had many students and have promoted many of them to the yudansha level. I promote them based upon their skill and effort, but I can never tell what they will do with it.

You have to realize that it takes tremendously more effort to produce a 5th dan than it does to produce a 2nd dan. This effort is not only the yudansha's -- it includes the effort of the Sensei as well as the other instructors and students in the dojo. What should we be able to expect in return for all that effort?

I am not talking about money. I never expect money in return for teaching. Payment in our dojo is a token only and yudansha do not pay tuition at all. But I do expect that students will do something with their training.

If you walk by a shack along the road, you might not be surprised if no one lives there. But a vacant, brand new 5 story building would seem like a terrible waste. Why build it if it won't be used?

Or it is like a person obtaining a degree in law or medicine but never using it. This sometimes happens. There was probably competition to get into that law school or medical school. Wouldn't it have been better for a student to have been accepted who would have used the degrees? Society is not helped by skilled people who do not use those skills.

With a 2nd dan, a Sensei is just happy to see the student training and helping to teach. But with a 5th dan (or higher) the expectations are much greater -- there is an element of waste.

So much work goes into making a senior yudansha. A student who has reached this level should do something positive with it. The best way to repay this debt is to teach the juniors and help to pass on the art.

I often ask myself what I am doing? What am I doing to repay my Sensei and contribute to the art?

What are you doing?


Charles C. Goodin