The Sensei is the guide along a mountain path. Some Sensei’s are familiar with the lowlands; others can show you the entire way. The best Sensei has seen all his own weaknesses, and therefore has insight into yours. He can show you the obstacles, but also point out the interesting side roads and beautiful scenery along the way. If a Sensei insists that you travel exactly the same path he did, then his knowledge is limited; Goju-Ryu is an art of expression through technique and movement on the personal level. A good Sensei assesses your qualities and finds the best way for you. A fine teacher, filled with natural awareness, can be a beacon to help light your way.
Second only to parents, Karate Sensei’s can have a profound influence on a student's self-concept and outlook on life. A genuine Sensei conveys useful lessons of living through lectures and movement. An average Sensei just teaches skills. Beware of knowledgeable, skillful Sensei’s who can develop a winning team, but at the same time smother the fundamental principles of Karate-Do.
Teaching is an art of communication. If one Sensei possesses 100 volts of knowledge but can effectively convey only 20 volts to his students, he will be less effective than a Sensei who has 50 volts of knowledge plus the ability to convey it all.
If a Sensei has a great competitive record with many championships, this may be very positive. Such a Sensei has traveled far on his mountain, and his accomplishments may inspire his students, who are more likely to listen with respect and attention, and follow through with his directions. However, do not be overawed by a competitive record or a whole list of advanced degrees. The important thing is not what a Sensei knows, but what his students know, not what he can do, but what they can do.
A good Sensei can speak the language of the intellect, and communicate clearly so the student understands.
An excellent Sensei can speak the language of the body, by showing the muscles, bones, and nerves how something should feel if done properly.
A great Sensei speaks the language of the emotions, by inspiring and motivating, and rekindling the original love of Karate with which the student began.
The Master Sensei can do all three.
There are gifted Sensei’s out there, and you may be one of them. Always remember, that a good Sensei not only teaches, but also conveys the principles of living through their teachings.