Sensei – One Who Walked Before

by Hanshi Terry Bryan

Although many people recognize the word sensei as meaning teacher, the kanji for sensei means ahead, life or in other words a person that is ahead of you on life’s journey. The relationship between an individual and a person that has “already been there” is unique and worthy of discussion. If knowledge is power, then a street-wise teacher willing to share his knowledge is very powerful indeed.

We enter this world not knowing and our perceptions of reality are based totally on our experiences and what we are taught by others.  Not knowing what is real, causes doubt in our abilities and the world around us. The single most effective way of knowing something is possible, is by someone else already achieving that specific goal or objective. Identifying your personal goals and identifying a person that has already achieved some level of expertise in that area is a major step towards success.

In life and death scenarios, the value of being trained by someone with “Street” experience is priceless. While the world is full of mentors with endless theories and academic solutions, the street-wise teacher possesses both technical knowledge and a proven track record in real life situations. These teachers are worthy of the title of Sensei.

In the martial arts world, the relationship between a teacher and their students is clearly defined.  Understanding the true value of learning from a qualified teacher, respect between the sensei and student is a priority in this relationship. The sensei develops a course of action to help the student achieve their goals, while the student displays discipline and persistence while performing the suggested training. Honesty in actions and deeds is the mark of a good sensei, enabling the students to understand between quick fix solutions spouted from lesser teachers, from true ageless principles of success taught in classical martial arts.

As we are now in the information age some have called the psychozoic age, the power of choosing street-wise mentors, in all areas of our lives, is more important than ever. Unlike western society that tends to devalue the importance of teachers, in Asia teachers are given the utmost respect. Choosing your teachers well during this journey we call life and then nurturing these relationships is one of those key principles of success in black belt excellence.


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