During the early days of my Karate history, I heard or read about various Karate-Ka who had a higher dan black belt and were called Sensei. I used to be impressed and thought they were dedicated and skillful martial artists. I had very little understanding and ability to judge Karate.
Time has passed and I have made progress, deepened my knowledge and trained at many different dojos in Tokyo, London, Vancouver and Toronto, including different styles. I have seen many black belts and Sensei but I can admire and respect only a few of them and recognize their accomplishments.
To be regarded as Sensei, you must be dedicated to studying and training consistently, to pursue perfection in Karate. Also he / she must be knowledgeable enough to explain the techniques and have the skills to demonstrate them. Whatever happens in one’s personal life, that must be put aside when one steps into the dojo, A Sensei must be able to concentrate his / her mind on Karate, no anger or bad temper should be shown during class.
Dedication takes iron willpower, determination and self-discipline, Karate-Do is a lifelong journey, a genuine Sensei does not quit at thirty or forty years of age and therefore must be able to manage his / her physical condition as well. Rearrange the training schedule as you get older but without losing quality. A well balanced diet also plays a very important role. For these reasons, there are only a few Karate-Ka I can regard as Sensei.
I used to train a a big shotokan organization for many years. During these years, things changed. There has been more and more commercialization and membership growth resulting in the quality and standards declining so as a result I left because I wanted to teach Karate based on my convictions.
After the opening of the Seiku-Kai dojo, I re-studied Karate from the beginning, read books, stood in front of a mirror to articulate and refine all techniques and organized the grading system more clearly. Strange as this may seem, my Karate in both technique and knowledge has been refined and matured quite a bit after the age of thirty five.
Chief Instructor at Shotokan Karate Seiku-Kai
Written in 1992