Kondo No Shokai
The Sensei Disease
By Terry Sanders, Kaicho, Kondo No Shokai
This article was originally published in the United States Karate Association Inc. FORUM
Perhaps some of you can recall a high school physical education teacher who was similar to mine. Mine was quite old (perhaps 43 years!), had a pot belly, smoked, showed little independent thought, had upper grade students lead the exercises and usually relied on the command, "Everybody go run a lap!" when the class got unruly.
It saddens me to note that a similar condition occurs among teachers of bushido. For lack of a better term, let's call it the Sensei Disease (SD). The symptoms of this disease include, but are not limited to: fear of criticism, too much food, too little exercise, excessive forgetfulness of kata, deteriorating physical condition, a tendency to live in the past, more talk (kuchi waza) than action, and an avoidance of kumite and kata practice.
Typically, the SD sufferer has no higher ranking neighbor or nearby sensei to provide the needed criticism and is surrounded by a praetorian guard of high ranking students who would never consider criticizing sensei.
Treating SD is similar to managing diabetes or alcoholism. The first step is to admit that one has the disease. The second step is to construct a plan to treat the symptoms. Some treatment suggestions follow:
1. Seek competent criticism - perhaps from a black belt holder not from your system
2. Get into top physical condition (eat, exercise,sleep properly, avoid drugs *), train hard with the beginners
3. Accept the occasional point that will be scored upon you by a lower rank holder
4. Keep on learning – attend seminars (emphasis added), visit other schools and study related arts. High rank, successful students and the normal aging process do not free budoka from the need to train continuously. We embody the ryu, set the standards and have our own do (path) to follow!
*The author and publisher assume no liability for training mishaps and urge out-of-shape black belts to obtain clearance from their medical doctors before embarking on any program of needed physical fitness.
Feel free to copy and circulate this article [with attribution].