…The relationship of Sensei to the dojo is very difficult to define as it encompasses many aspects of life. The character of Sensei must flow through the student at many levels and reach to the far corners of the student’s life. A Sensei is sometimes a parent figure, and may advice, or even chastises students. A Sensei, though unique, is similar to everyone else. They are human beings who deserve special respect for they have travelled long upon the Do (the way).
A Sensei is an excellent teacher who conveys, at the correct time, the proper knowledge, in the best possible way and manner to students, and sees students and their problems as they themselves rarely do-impartially. A Sensei shows no favor, indeed, as students progress, Sensei may become harder on them. A Sensei in kind but firm with beginners on the path.
Sensei advises, in an appropriate manner, on the inner spiritual aspect of the art, and always lends a friendly ear to listen carefully.
Although students may categorize Sensei as either teacher or friend, Sensei is neither, yet both and more. A Sensei view the student with an open mind, unmoved by appearances and helps in the way best suited to the student. If this means being hard or gentle, then Sensei is so. However, it is always in the best manner for the students, for Sensei’s heart is forever with them.
Often a Sensei may test students by taking views diametrically opposed to them in order to study their reactions. Sensei will put forth untruths to see if they are accepted, or say nothing when volumes could be spoken. Silence is often the best form of praise that a Sensei will give to students. Sensei will note what affects the students in and of the dojo, how they act towards friends, family, and work, and will work with the students accordingly.
Although they can adapt at will, Sensei does not change even though outsiders may, as inward ideals and principles remain intact at all times. They persist when there is no apparent reason, give while others take, and ask for no rewards save that of proficiency of mind and body. That is why they are Sensei.
Typically, it takes the experience of teaching thousands of students to produce a worthwhile Sensei. Having one is worth taking care of.
Adapted from the writing of B.Dalgliesh