The Role Of The Sempai

By Fred F. Feddeck

Some dojo have some clearly defined senior students - a few students who have been training with a teacher the longest in relation to the other students. Sometimes these students are called "sempai," meaning senior. However, if taken a step further, "sempai" means that as a student you are "senior" to everybody in the dojo who started training after you. So as a sempai, what responsibilities do you have - especially if you are one of the more "senior" sempai?

Just as the teacher of the dojo sets an example of the teachings, you have to set an example for the students below you. Remember that even if you have only been training a couple of years, in the eyes of a person who has been training significantly less, this will appear to be a long time. Just as your teacher is a role model and sets the example, you have to be a role model and live up to the example. With some of the students looking to you as an example, think about the message you are sending to them if you are late for class, skimp on training, are late with dojo tuition, or worse - give up during training.

Even if you have never thought yourself as a "senior" - remember that to somebody in the dojo you are, so strive to set an example that not only makes you stronger, but also makes the dojo stronger.