Sacramento Martial Arts and Karate
After a recent class, a mom of one of our young students came up to me and asked to share a success story about her child. As teachers, if we are doing our job well, we will often hear stories about children taking what they learn in the dojo and out in to the world. Sometimes it manifests itself as more respect at home, or as better focus on school. This story however, was very powerful and it has been on my mind lately.
The mom explained how her son Eli showed an amazing level of both courage and composure during a bullying situation on the school playground. Any time that a parent begins telling me about a bullying incident at school, I get emotionally keyed in. I never want any of our students to have to suffer through bullying, but I am confident that they are getting the tools they need to handle it appropriately. Eli is no exception.
What was exceptional in this situation though, was that the child getting picked on wasn't Eli himself, but another young boy at school. Eli had recognized the bully as someone that even trained in the martial arts at another dojo in Sacramento. Eli saw an opportunity to be a real life hero and had the courage to take action and come to the defense of the victim.
"I don't think you should be pushing that kid. What would your Sensei say to you if he saw this happening?"
Wow. Those are powerful words right there. Spoken from a place of confidence and composure, we know that it both stopped the bullying and also redirected the conversational tone to be about the bully (and maybe Eli) but gave the victim a chance to get out of the bully's spotlight. Mom explained the boy's response as relayed to her as well.
"But I don't have a Sensei. We have lot's of instructors but no real Sensei."
I remain proud of Eli for doing what he did, and I think there is something to learn from his action in this situation. However, there is also something that we can learn from the bully's response. "I don't have a Sensei." I was disappointed to hear such a remark.
Don't misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with having more than one teacher at a large dojo. And it doesn't matter if you call them Sensei, Sempai, Hanshi, Master, Sah Bum Nim, or Grand Puh Bah--but this reminded me how important it is for students to see their instructor as a mentor.As teachers, mentors, parents, and coaches we have to develop a rapport with our students that goes beyond punching and kicking. We are the example of what it means to be a black-belt.
If we don't take the time (or make the time) to establish a real connection, a real mentor-student relationship with the young people that we work with, then they will just have "lot's of instructors" but "no real Sensei."
Zen Martial Arts Center