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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 who is referred to 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. 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 simply be seen as someone to who they can entrust with their children while they go off shopping.

So just what is a sensei?

The best way to find the answer to that question is simple. Join a reputable dojo. Put on a gi, step inside, and start training under the watchful eye of a truly dedicated teacher. Yes, it may seem hard at first. But if you give it time, and you make the effort, before long you too will willingly leave your sweat on the dojo floor as partial payment for all that you are learning. For the knowledge you seek is not free. It can not be bought by money alone. It must be paid for in a different way. By minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years striving under your sensei's constant gaze.

To new students the sensei will be patient, and understanding. Since he or she knows that you must first understand what is needed before you can give it. To the middle ranks who have been training for sometime the sensei will be much more demanding, seeking greater accuracy, and effort. Leaving no doubt in their minds that they still have a long way to go.

To senior ranks the sensei will be an even 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 Shodan exam, and its tightly held promise of a black belt to all of those who pass the test. 

I for one hope that you do find out the answer to the question, what is a sensei. 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 then in time, after many, many years of training for the love of the art, you too may one day find yourself a sensei standing at the head of a class.

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