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At the head of the class.

A Sensei, the good ones run deep.

There exists in every dojo a unique relationship. It exists between the students, and their teacher. He, or she is referred to in class as, sensei. For a great many reasons this relationship is often difficult to explain. Especially to anyone on the outside of the dojo looking in. Since for the most part these people only tend to see what they think they see.

To some of these onlookers the sensei may simply appear to be the person who stands at the head of the class, and gives instructions. To others the sensei may be seen as someone they can entrust with their children while they go off shopping. While to others, the sensei may simply be seen as someone who might teach their children about self defense, courtesy, and respect.

So just what is a sensei?

To find the answer to that you should join a reputable dojo, put on a gi, step inside, and start training under the watchful eye of a dedicated sensei. Then like other students you must willingly leave your sweat on the dojo floor, as if in partial payment for all that you will learn. For the knowledge you seek is not free, and it can not be bought by money alone. It must be paid for in a different way. Minutes, hours, days, months, and years of training under the sensei's constant gaze.

To new students the sensei will be patient, and understanding. To the middle ranks the sensei will be more demanding, seeking more accuracy, and even greater effort. Leaving no doubt in their minds that more effort is needed in order to take them where they want to go. To senior ranks the sensei will be a harder task master. Seemingly never satisfied. Instead the sound of "mo ichi do" (one more time) will constantly ring in their ears. Especially, as they draw ever closer to their Sho Dan exam, and its tightly held promise of a black belt. It is often at this point in a student’s journey that their understanding of what the word sensei means will truly start taking shape.

I for one hope that you find, or already have, a true sensei. Someone you can trust. Someone who persists in pushing you to be your best, even when you think that you will never get it. If you do find that person may I suggest that you hold on tight, and never let go. Respect them, follow their lead, and learn by their example. You will find that the good ones will ask for no reward, save that of loyalty, dedication, and a never endling willingness to challenge your body, mind, and spirit. And in time after many, many years of training for the love of the art, you too may one day find yourself standing at the head of a class.

Remember: "Understanding what you think you know is the hardest part of learning."