In a traditional japanese dojo like Bushido Karate Club there is a special relationship of respect that exists known as the Sempai (Senior) and Kohai (Junior) system. When you begin your training in the club there are those who are above you in grade, these are your sempai. Those students that joined after you are your Kohai, your juniors. With this system the Junior has a certain debt which he owes this senior because of their willingness to pass on what they have learned.
The senior in turn has a duty to his Sensei and dojo to bring his junior up through the ranks as a big brother would a little brother. By being your senior, by helping you, by acting as an advisor, coach and confidant, the Sempai assumes a tremendous responsibility. The Kohai who has been tutored and taken care of by his Sempai becomes an ONJIN, a person under obligation, and as old Japanese adage goes, "Life and death are light as a feather, but obligation, obligation is heavy as a mountain.".
Based upon the deep respect for loyalty and obligation that characterised old Japan, the Sempai-Kohai relationship is one that often extends throughout the lives of those involved in it. It is a convention that allows a Kohai to begin to develop the attitudes of helpfulness and leadership that are necessary for mastery and so in a reciprocal way the lives of the Sempai and Kohai are bettered.
At times, the Sempai-Kohai system may seem difficult. For the junior it may seem that his movements are criticised. Even outside the dojo he finds his behaviour under the watchful eye of a senior who is quick to correct. In spite of its apparent drawbacks, it really works rather well.
If you are beginner in the martial arts, remember that and listen carefully to the advice of your Sempai. Their experience is hard won. If you are a more advanced student, keep in mind that training is only a part of your purpose in the dojo. There are Kohai in need of your guidance and it is up to you to set the example by training hard and helping one another.
You must at all times show respect to your Sempai. Always bow to your Sensei when you see him or her on arrival or leaving the dojo or around the dojo. If you are given advice you listen carefully and bow and say "OSS" as a sign of your understanding and sign of your character. If you do not understand, bow and say "OSS i do not understand Sensei". The instructors of Bushido Karate Club are here to teach you and there is nothing wrong with not understanding. We will happily explain it further so that you can better your Karate. If you need to ask a question about a technique or any aspect of Karate-Do feel free to approach any instructor of the club before or after training and they will be happy to answer your questions. But remember always to "Bow" when you approach an instructor.
The Sempai Kohai relationship does not only apply to Karate-Do, but life in general. Karate-Do is one family, and we are here to help. If something is on your mind and you need help you can always rely on your Sempai. If you are being bullied at school, work or college, talk to us we are there to advise you on what to do or any other problem you may face in life. Your Sensei can give you advise on how to tackle it.
Sensei Aaron Kenneally
Glanmire GAA, Glanmire, Co. Cork, Ireland, T45 XE36
Thursday @ 19:00 - 20:00 - Karate Kids Class