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02-23-2004, 04:20 PM
I'm senior student of my dojo, being a fairly new dojo I'm actually still quite new to Aikido, although I've studied other arts.

Can anyone suggest what the role of the senior student is and how far his or her authority extends?


02-23-2004, 05:17 PM
I'm senior student of my dojo, being a fairly new dojo I'm actually still quite new to Aikido, although I've studied other arts.

Can anyone suggest what the role of the senior student is and how far his or her authority extends?

Being a senior student is about being the kind big brother. Friendly, but firm when required. You will play a big part is creating the atmosphere for the dojo.

Beyond technical assistance to those newer than yourself, just try to set a good example.

People will response positively when the seniors are friendly & helpful.

As far as authority goes, you should ask your sensei. Only he knows what sort of role he wants his seniors to play in that regard.

02-23-2004, 05:43 PM
you should ask your sensei. Only he knows what sort of role he wants his seniors to play in that regard.

or SHE! ;)

02-23-2004, 11:05 PM
or SHE! ;)
:blush: very true. ;)

02-24-2004, 05:51 AM
the kind big brother I knew I got this wrong...

Yann Golanski
02-24-2004, 06:14 AM
Big brother is watching you.


Sorry, could not resist.

jaime exley
02-24-2004, 10:46 AM
Of the two words in "Senior Student" I think the word student is of primary importance. It's true that people will be watching you closely to see what's expected from them. Therefore, you'll probably have to train harder than the rest, show up early for class, take a proactive role in cleaning the dojo and generally be a "model" student. That's your job, to model for the others what a good student should be. Never forget that the other students joined the dojo to study with Sensei (not you) and that any influence that you have in the dojo will be a result of leading by example.

02-24-2004, 03:38 PM
I was senior student from almost day one! It was a new dojo and I never missed a class! I was new to it, so I new very little, although I have a lot of training before in other arts.

The job of senior students is not to teach, guide or anything else, but one thing - you lead by example!!!

Set an example by training hard, displaying your enthusiasm, and definitely keeping to etiquete, showing respect to your Sensei at alltimes. That is the duty of senior studemts, but there is one more, very very important - train and learn!!!


Lyle Laizure
12-28-2004, 12:28 AM
Leading by example is wonderful and very necessary. When it comes to athourity you need to check with your sensei.

12-28-2004, 09:27 AM
Train hard.
Lead from the front and by example.
Be of humble assistance as requested by Sensei.

12-28-2004, 10:46 AM
The word "humble" in the above reply somehow grates a bit. I agree that in aikido we show respect and strive to keep ego out of the equation - but, we are who we are and should be happy and at peace with that, no? That's what makes training with different partners so interesting and fun. Why be humble when you can be happy and proud and delighted and eager and curious and interested?
Humble I guess is a culturally loaded word, and so I am probably reacting to that. If you mean that you shouldn't go strutting your stuff and behave towards your sensei as if you have nothing more to learn, then yes, be humble - otherwise it's guaranteed that you will get a chance to prove yourself!.
Sr. students come in all kinds of forms, some will inspire you and some won't do a thing for you. But they're all people who do their best and who are doing it for their own reasons. I would not describe most of them as humble. They laugh, are boisterous, basically play with each other (and us "jr." students) before and after class, make themselves available as test-training partners, and just beam their excitement. Students who display their humbleness and "oh great one I am not worthy" often seem insincere to me, and a lot more aware of their own status and value and selves.
Be frank, open, delighted, playful and helpful - how could you not in this sport?

12-28-2004, 11:37 AM
Errrr....does this person understand that you can be humble and and delighted and eager and curious and interested and happy all at the same time? Besides, the quote was 'Be of humble assistance as requested by Sensei'. That means to follow the Sensei's lead, to be of service to him/her on the mat (and off the mat if you are an uchideshi) and to take in and understand earnestly the information he/she is being kind enough to teach you. If you look at the idea of humility as a desire to help others, then isn't that part of being an aikidoka in the first place? Well, it is for me.

The issue that raises it's head here is pride. I'm sure we have all seen some sensei and students act with pride on and off the mat, and it is obvious that they expect their surroundings to be focused on themselves (I could think of a few off the top of my head right now, and sometimes I have fallen into the trap of being a smartarse knowitall too - sheesh!). As they say, pride comes before a fall, and I've seen plenty of injuries and hurt feelings because pride got in the way. right, time to get off my soapbox and go and have a lie down hehe

Lyle Laizure
12-28-2004, 10:30 PM
It amazes me that in an art that ego has no place that ego can run amuck. Alas we are human.

Rocky Izumi
12-28-2004, 11:19 PM
Go to the following in the Aikido Articles section:

Home > Teaching > Senior Students and Teaching
by Rocky Izumi <Send E-mail to Author> - 16. Oct, 1996

I think my comments may still be valid.


12-29-2004, 11:53 AM
I suppose it's a question of terminology, or rather, perception. In the West, we don't do humble much - or well. To me, humble means that you're humbled: submissive, owerpowered, thinking that you can't make it, can't be as good as others, low person on the totempole etc. All this implies comparing yourself to others and coming out short which really is an un-aikido enterprise - and very ego-centric. How can you engage in the dialog that is aikido, the honest exchange between two people if you're thinking "oh, I can't do this" or "She's so much better than I"?
The opposite doesn't work either, and I suppose that is what is meant by "ego" above: thinking that you are the master of the universe, that you have all the answers, that no one can teach you anything and that you don't owe anything to anyone.
What I am trying to get at is that you do not compare yourself to others, that no value judgment is involved, and that you can only improve on you by being closer to who you really are - NOT by negating or suppressing it or pretending to be something else. How else can you have meaningful practice? When you change partners, it forces you to feel them out, to see how you need to adapt to them. You are allowed to be happy - proud? - of the accomplishments that you achieve. Not that they're the final answer, but rather stepping stones on a neverending path.
So, when a sr. student shows me enthusiasm, joy, openness, engagement, involvement and personality, and is meeting everyone with the same welcome and respect, that inspires me. That in turn makes me feel responsible for everyone in the dojo, to be a better nage/uke, to help where I can. I am not humbled by this; that was the very first stage of aikido "ohmigod, I'll never learn ukemi/that technique/it". My sensei, the other instructors, my sempais and kohais helped me through that very quickly and showed me how to enjoy the experience of just learning. The resulting confidence isn't "I'm better than you", it's "I can do this".
Finally, if you humbly do anything asked, that means you're unquestioning, and that you do not allow your self any play. What if you were asked to do something illegal/immoral/just plain wrong out of misunderstood deference? There is not one sempai or kohai who wouldn't do what our sensei asks, but it is in a spirit of shared responsibility, not deference to the sensei. And he always asks nicely, anyway... Besides, we do a lot without being asked. Like a modern family life - no paternalistic authority, just everyone pitching in what they can to help out.
I am not saying that you should not feel awe or respect or aspire to the thing you admire in your sempai/sensei/anyone else, but it has to include respect for yourself as well. I think there are many things we admire in others that we know are not right for us or that would take sacrifices that we're not willing to make. That is a choice you should make with honesty. Then there is no comparison or value judgment involved, just hands down honest admiration. Learn from that to be the best that you can be given your circumstances.

Alvin H. Nagasawa
12-29-2004, 03:45 PM
Senior Student is the first one to line up on the mat. Everyone else is to his left.
If you are the same Dan / Kyu, you go by the age of the person senior to you. in other instances, date of rank received.
Each dojo has it's set of unwritten rules, As a member of that dojo. You will learn the In's and out, Do's & Dont's and etc. as you become a long time member of that organization.
Quote: Can you remember when you first started Aikido?, How many that started with you are still training today. If you find your self alone in that list, I guess you are the "Senior Student" and one day you teacher may pass the torch to you.

Lone Wolf of San Jose.

12-29-2004, 08:32 PM
What I would mean by "humble" in a senior student:

Still mops the floor with the rest of us rather than using his status to get out of it. (The other students may arrange for him to be excused from such chores because there are other things he needs to be doing, but he shouldn't be pulling rank to make this happen.)

Answers questions from beginners rather than acting like his time is too valuable to waste on them.

Freely admits when he makes a mistake or doesn't know something, rather than hiding it or browbeating others into pretending it didn't happen.

I see all of these as unequivocally positive things, and I hope I can model them when I'm senior.

Most dojo also seem to have some questions that it's just hard to ask sensei, and the senior student or students have to tackle those. Like "Is it okay if I ask sensei whether I can test?" (Senior students will also get asked, "Sensei says I'm not ready to learn this, would you teach it to me on the quiet?" and you'll have to make up your own mind how to respond to that....)

Mary Kaye

Lan Powers
12-29-2004, 11:17 PM
Funny when you realise that *now you are a senior student. Happens pretty quickly in a smaller dojo. ( I am older than most all of the others, so it is/was sort of weird anyway)
Do what you do, don't skimp out when it is your turn....best thoughts I have.

Rocky Izumi
01-21-2005, 03:49 PM
Senior Student is the first one to line up on the mat. Everyone else is to his left.
Lone Wolf of San Jose.

It sometimes depends on the dojo. A better rule might be: Either the most senior or most junior student lines up closest to the outside door. If you want visitors to be dealt with by someone who is knowledgeable and has the responsibility to deal with sudden dojo issues in a knowledgeable way, then I would suggest that the most senior student sit down closest to the outside door.

On the other hand, if you are expecting to have your dojo attacked, it is good to place your most junior students nearest the outside door so that they be used as cannon fodder in the case of sudden attack. :)


01-21-2005, 03:51 PM
We just line up. No order, no hierarchy. So whoever is nearest the door must deal with the ballet students in the hall.

Tim Gerrard
01-23-2005, 03:39 PM
So whoever is nearest the door must deal with the ballet students in the hall.
Fantastic! Where is it you train? We just get yobs and footballers...

Jeanne Shepard
01-23-2005, 07:35 PM
Ballet Students! They can kick! High! And with those hardened pointe shoes...!

Jeanne :p