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Old 01-07-2008, 08:47 PM   #24
Kevin Leavitt
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Dojo: Team Combat USA
Location: Olympia, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Yes good question Mary.

We must be careful about the roles of junior and senior, that is delineating between authoritarian control and legitimate control.

What I mean by that is that simply because we are "senior" doesn't grant us "powers" simply based on that (authoritarian). What we do have to understand is that to be able to recognize within ourselves that we have more experience than others, that grants us legitmacy.

We have to take responsiblity I think, that is our obligation to share that experience properly with those that are junior to us. This is a leadership role within the organization that we must undertake. Thus we become sempai and those with less experience become kohai.

I think this is lacking much in aikido many times. I think that we tend to be "over humble" and think that we have nothing to offer and we are all on the same level and must allow the "instructors" or sensei have all the leadership.

This is wrong I think. Certainly we don't undermine the sensei or the teacher, but we do as experienced students have a responsibility to help in the development and to share our experience with Kohai.

It may be as simple as words of encouragement, sharing with them that you too still have trouble with ikkyo. Offering a suggestion about posture, relaxation, timing, breathing, or other things you notice that might help.

Again, it is about establishing trust through seeking to understand them a little deeper first prior to offering much unsolicited advice or opinion about what they are doing wrong.

I think this is the area in which sempai can be the most helpful. Taking time to listen to them, to watch them, and to simply offer words of encouragement or share with them things that seemed to help you. It might also be asking sensei to come over to help you out with a problem you guys are having, as kohai may not be comfortable doing that, not wanting to impose.

I think the relationship between sempai and kohai is much deeper than an authoritarian relationship based on seniority!

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