by Jacqueline S. Blackburn
Senseis have a responsibility in their position as a teacher of Uechi Ryu. The higher the rank, the greater the expectation of a junior student of that Sensei. A Uechi Ryu Sensei must display all the skills they have learned which includes the internal, moral, and spiritual aspect as well as the physical side of Uechi Ryu. The Dojo should be treated as a sanctuary where when you cross the threshold, you have entered a place of peace, harmony and knowledge. There should be no undercurrents or inappropriate behaviour allowed to prosper and permede that sanctuary. This is a great responsibility for the Sensei. They must always keep a careful eye out so that if anything inappropriate does occur it is handled and stopped at the outset. Otherwise when a blind eye is used, the offender will think it is okay and then that behaviour will reoccur, grow and become an acceptable part of that person’s character. It should not matter what rank a person has achieved, if their behaviour is not appropriate to be a Sensei, then they should not be allowed to operate or teach in a dojo. Standards have to be maintained or the art will lose an important part of the essence that attracts people to come and learn and live.
Uechi Ryu is such a special and unique martial art. I believe that it is intended for everyone of us to find our path of harmonizing our mind, body and spirit. Senseis cannot and should not treat everyone the same as each person has their own unique need. A Sensei must develop their own internal eye so that they see where and what each student needs to be working on so that the student can develop into the best martial artist that they can be. Those who have not grown in the three aspects of Uechi Ryu can only be instructors not Senseis. Senseis encompass the three strong points of Uechi Ryu. Students who become/are Senseis should be well-trained and monitored by their own Sensei so that bad habits that slip in unobtrusively over time can be rooted out before one becomes a “bad instructor” who abuses or take advantage of the vulnerabilities of their students.
A true martial artist lives their art in their everyday life not just in the dojo. Respect for oneself is as important as the respect one must have for others whether they are lower rank, equal rank or senior rank. We have great examples of great teachers here in Uechi Ryu where Sensei George Mattson tops that list. He is an exemplary example of living Uechi Ryu day to day not just in the dojo. Students tend to adopt the manner of their immediate seniors and instructors. Being a Sensei is a tremendous responsibility and a privilege. This honor has to be earned through one’s own hard training, growth and understanding. Teaching in itself is an art and a gift that is shared with those around them. Because Uechi Ryu combines growth of the mind, spirit and body in its training, so should Sensei be made to fulfill these requirements before they begin to teach others. Otherwise, it is easy to instruct.
Above is all just my humble opinion. I believe that Uechi Ryu deserves to be taught by the best teachers it has to offer. Uechi Ryu students deserve to be taught the whole harmony of mind, body and spirit of Uechi not just the raw physical in your face part.
Jacqueline S. Blackburn, Administrative Assistant, Faculty of Architecture
Technical University of Nova Scotia, P.O. Box 1000, Halifax, NS B3J 2X4
Tel. (902) 420 – 7512 Fax: (902) 423 – 7611 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nidan in Uechi-ryu Karate