You are on your own


Wouldn't be great if you could learn all your Sensei has to teach you?
Imagine that you can train under him/her for all his/her life and learn all his skills and secrets, that he/she can pass on all his/her knowledge to you.

Now imagine that your Sensei stops teaching some 40 years after you met, and that at that time you are too old to start teaching if you plan to pass your learnt skills to the next generation. Let's say that you might not have 40 years of teaching left...

Then think about this: your Sensei had to start teaching at some point, probably during his/her Sensei lifetime, and probably before all the knowledge could be passed on.
How could your Sensei dare to stop attending his/her old Sensei dojo just to start teaching?
How could your Sensei keep improving if not training under his/her Sensei?

Let me come back to this later.

I never planned to stop attending my Sensei's classes, but family/work/life got in the way and I had to move to another continent, where I still reside. 
I was left with few choices about what to do with my own training. I kept practicing kata at home and I kept doing physical training. 
Then I joined a dojo of a different Karate group, with different practices.

That dojo allowed me to meet a lot of different people who practiced Martial Arts in different ways, and I was lucky to have many people to share their knowledge with me (and me with them).

I came to this realization recently.
Most of the people I met who were key influences on my development over the last decade had a lot in common with me:
-They were about my age
-They were about my rank
-They had about the same years experience as me
-They trained under their Senseis about as long as me
-They had to move on from their Senseis for different reasons
-They all were teaching Martial Arts in a way or another
-They all were eager to improve, train and expand their knowledge
-They were all improving

For what I see, martial practitioners (budoka) who are really committed to the cause will find a way to keep on training and improving and will end up teaching (maybe as a way of improving, maybe as a way to pass on the knowledge).
One will develop his/her own way of training, with his/her own practices, with his/her own theory and philosophy of what Martial Arts are and one will develop him/herself into a more advanced practitioner all by him/herself.

How is that possible if one is not guided by a superior instructor?

I didn't say one should not find guidance, I just said that if you can't find constant supervision you still can improve by following your Sensei's instructions (hopefully you still remember how his/her classes were), or by attending seminars, or by traveling to other Masters, or by reading books, or by using videos, or by networking...

Now, tell me the truth (only those of your who have been training under the same Sensei continually for 10 or 15 years): how much did you improve over the last year?

Probably not much. 
Probably because you got into your comfort zone.
Probably because the more you know the less room there is for improvement.
Probably because your Sensei has a mixed class of beginners and experts and needs to accommodate everyone.

Not saying it is your Sensei fault, excuse if it seems like I meant that.

Let's say that a Sensei's job is not to teach, but to point the way. Point you in a direction where you can start to learn by yourself. Your Sensei must teach you enough so you now know how to train to improve yourself, so you know how to gather more knowledge and skills, so you know to differentiate good practice from bad practice, so you know how to identify where your martial journey is directed and how to get there.

If you get to this point where I am you may also find networking to be very useful.
Yes, find other people in your situation (that there are many) and train together.
Maybe they have a space, maybe they don't, but don't let that stop you.

Training is the key to improvement.
What would you tell your Sensei next time? "I didn't train in 10 years because you were not there to tell me what to do"?



And by the way, it is NOT your Sensei responsibility to make you improve.
Guess whose responsibility is.




You guessed right.





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