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My Sensei refuses to train me like everyone else.

by John Smith
(Australia)

I’ve been doing kendo for years now. However, recently there was an incident involving my father and my sensei and a fair bit of money being taken, after my mother found out we tried to give the money back but were told that there was no need.


Since this moment everything at training has changed. During our warm up suburi I'm completely ignored. During all drills we do in keiko I'm completely ignored.

I'm getting close to being eligible for my ni-dan at the end of this year and I want to have a try and do the best I can.

I asked my sensei if he could give me some feedback on my basics and recommend any drills I can do at home to prepare. He then told me that he thinks I don't listen to anything he says so he doesn't bother.

We all listen in different ways that all work. How can I reverse this opinion he has of me? Because this is definitely affecting my training, moral and my motivation to keep doing kendo.

Answer: First of all, I am sorry to hear the situation that you are facing. So you think the reason your teacher started ignoring you is the incidence between your teacher and your father? Or you really think it is the way you learn is not what he think should be?

I would like to assume the issue is solved between your teacher and your father. Then if your teacher is not happy about it, it might take some time even if it has nothing to do with you. It is up to him, right?

Now let’s say what your teacher said about your learning attitude is the issue. If he really thinks that you don’t listen to him, then probably you should do what your teacher told you to do.

I agree that people have the different ways to listen but the result should be what your teacher told you to do, right? For example, your teacher told you to lift your left hand above your head but you are stopping your left hand at the forehead, then you are not doing what your teacher told you to do. This might seem extremely subtle but it is not what is being told to do.

Instructors do their best to give what they know to their students. They want their students improve. From that perspective, wouldn't you say it is understandable that they get upset when their students don’t do what they teach?

It is true that every student is different. That is the hardest part to instruct everyone in one way. From that reason, I do suggest different things to different students. But It is up to the students if they want to do what their teacher tell them to do.

Then the same should apply to the teachers. It is up to them if they decide to teach things to the students.

My case…. It is true that some students don’t do what I say right away. Is it a bad thing or good thing? They might need to think and try by themselves. And if they are not ready to do what I say, they don’t do it.

So after I tell them what I think they should do, I don’t say much especially when they are dan holders.

For beginners, I tell them the same things over and over. I’m sure the beginners don’t like me for that but that is my job. I keep telling them what they should be doing. The teachers know where they should be going because they have been there. So the teachers have plans for the beginners. But the beginners don’t necessarily know what they should be doing to move up to the next level. Even when I tell them what their goal is, they don’t really know how to get there. So they need to listen to my instructions; otherwise, they need to find out what to do to get to the next level.

If you want to learn from your teacher, you should do your best to do what he tells you to do. And show him that you are doing it. I am sure he can tell, if you are trying to do what he told you to do. If you don’t know how you can do what you are told to do, ask him what you should do first, second, third and so forth.

Like you said, people are all different. Teachers are all different too. So if you want to learn from your teacher, you should learn how he teaches and how he wants his students to learn from him. And by doing so, your teacher will come up with something that might work particularly for you to improve kendo.

After all, it is relationship. Nurture good relationship with your teacher. If your teacher feels your passion toward kendo, he cannot help teaching you. He will teach you more than you need to know.

Hope this helps.

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