In the world of martial arts, the bond between a student and their sensei is one of profound significance. It's a connection rooted in trust, respect, and dedication. But as the sands of time shift and senseis pass on, it becomes increasingly important to uphold the truth and honor these relationships for what they were.
Recently, there have been instances where individuals have come forward, claiming to have shared a deeper connection with their karate or kobudo sensei than they genuinely did. In the wake of a sensei's passing, these claims have taken on a new life, painting a picture of mentorship and intimacy that may not have existed. Indeed having been present for the years during which such claims are being made - I know the mentorship was not present. There is a difference in training with and training under a teacher - to not separate the experience is disingenuous. Moreover, when the fundamentals of this teachers waza are not evident in the ose used by the so-called disciple it damages the sensei"s reputation and dishonours the effort they had made to achieve their level of mastery.
Such actions not only tarnish the reputation of those making these claims but also disrespect the memory of the sensei who devoted their life to the art. Karate and kobudo are disciplines built upon principles of honesty, integrity, and humility, and these values extend to the way we remember and honor our senseis.
It is crucial to remember that each student's journey with their sensei is unique. While some may have had close, personal relationships with their mentors, others may have had a more distant but equally valuable learning experience. Neither is superior to the other; both reflect the diverse ways in which martial arts can transform lives.
As we navigate the legacy of our senseis, let us do so with integrity and sincerity. False claims of closeness or mastery serve only to sow discord within the martial arts community and betray the very principles upon which these arts were founded. Instead, let us celebrate the wisdom, discipline, and dedication of our senseis, acknowledging their impact on our lives and the martial arts world as a whole.
In the spirit of true martial arts, let us honor the memory of our senseis by embodying the virtues they instilled in us—honesty, respect, and humility. In doing so, we can ensure that their legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those who genuinely cherish the bonds they shared with their mentors, without exaggeration or falsehood.
Okinawan and Japanese Budo
James M. Hatch
International Educator who happens to be passionate about Chito Ryu Karate. Born in Ireland, educated in Canada, matured in Japan