The Role of The Student

By Don Houle

The role of the student in budo is very complex. On one hand, the student wishes to learn what the teacher knows and to become like his instructor and sempai. On the other hand, there is always a desire to break away, to question what the teacher is showing and study things that are beyond what the instructor feels is the student's current level.

This is not unlike a child who enters his or her teenage years and begins to test the limits of the parent-child relationship. Parents want to protect and nurture their children, while teens want only to break free of their parents' control. As the child grows older, however, the child can sympathize with the parents' feelings and actions, realizing that the things they did were for the child's own good.

The good student is one who is able to balance these contradictory desires. As students, we should respect our teachers for what they are sharing with us, and for the consideration and time that they give to our progress along the path of budo. However, one should not completely rely on the teacher for his or her own advancement. Depending too completely on the teacher to point out every mistake and fix every flaw is a weakness on the part of the student. Many of the lessons of budo can be learned only through the student's own hard work and dedication.