What is a Sensei?
The teacher in a martial arts school is often called sensei. This is a Japanese word that means “one who has gone before.” A sensei is like the leader of an expedition through a jungle or up a mountain who says, “Follow me, walk here, I know the way.”
As a student, especially someone new to the martial arts, you have to trust this person and listen carefully to his or her directions. It can be easy to lose your way at the beginning if you dont pay attention. Much later in your training, when you can see the path clearly for yourself, you may turn around to help others find the way by becoming a teacher. Some people even go off on their ownand make new paths. It is in this way that new styles and schools of martial art are born.
A sensei is someone who has practiced for a long time, studied martial art seriously, and decided to carry on the tradition by teaching new students.
In the Korean language sensei is called sabonim, and in Chinese, martial arts students may call their teacher sifu. Teachers have different names depending on their experience and the school that they teach in. We call them by these special titles to show respect for what they have learned and the hard work they do in teaching their martial art to others like yourself.
When you meet a sensei for the first time it is important to smile, look him or her in the eye, and bow or shake hands if a hand is extended to you. Be friendly and polite as you would when you meet any new person and you will usually find that they will welcome you and be friendly right back.
This is especially true when you enter a dojo for the first time. Lets see what else you will want to know.