Yes, who’s your sensei? Your Sensei is quite a person, as you well know. But I have an interesting observation about students, their senseis and their dojos. I have visited many dojos and tested an untold number of dan ranks from shodan up. So, I have a big set of experiences and information forming the basis of my observations.

OK, you have been waiting for my cool observation: The students’ conduit to the arts and their attitude is through their sensei. More than not, the students reflect the attitude and style of their senseis!!! Well, it goes without saying that the student’s martial arts look like the sensei’s arts, but the student’s frame of mind and attitude are also very close to that of their sensei.  Many times I have not looked at the exam paperwork, but guessed who was the examinee’s sensei. Most of the time I was right!

Focusing on the senseis, I say your job and responsibility is to provide your students with a safe workout at all times, provide a good atmosphere for learning, and foster a great attitude. A great attitude is one where the students want to learn, ask questions, respect higher ranks, and be good representatives for their dojos, the AJJF and DanZan Ryu. I want to make you aware of just how important it is for a sensei to follow these principles of the AJJF. These simple principles help form the student’s attitude of our art. A sensei must remember that they affect the students lives and understanding of DanZan Ryu a great deal. Thus senseis need to be careful, fair, and accurate in the information given to their students. A good sensei sets an excellent example for their students. Senseis and students should review the Esoteric Principles, as handed down from Prof. Okazaki (see the budo passport, available in the AJJF store).

As for the student, your part and responsibilities are to learn, follow your dojo’s safety procedures, and practice, practice. You students are representatives of the AJJF and the whole of DanZan Ryu, whether performing the arts or in your attitude, you have a responsibility to show your best. Also, you as a student must emulate the good attitude shown by your sensei.

From observation of various dojos and instructors, I can say AJJF dojos are fantabulous, for the most part. I have been to other DanZan Ryu dojos (outside of the AJJF) and, for the most part, they are also good. I visited some non-DanZan Ryu dojos and, in my opinion, they need help.

Sensei will show you how to teach so you can instruct people. The way you instruct will reflect your teaching skills that you received from your sensei, so sensei’s impact on you is large. As a student, you will need to carry on the excellent instruction style of the AJJF.

I, for one, had an outstanding sensei, Prof. Ray Law, and I learned a lifetime of JuJitsu and Judo. I am grateful to him for that. I also had the privilege of some classes with Prof Bud Estes, Prof. Lamar Fisher, Prof Cahill, and others in DanZan Ryu. But today, many years later, I have learned that I really have many senseis! Yes, all of you in the AJJF have the ability to teach me different methods to approach the arts and ideas of the teachings of Prof Okazaki.

We are motivated to continue learning and practicing to better improve ourselves. Sensei will inspire you to do this.