I can recall many years ago during class, my first teacher looked at us and stated, “If by the end of my time I haven’t raised three students that can take over the dojo, then I haven’t done my job as a teacher.” I guess I never forgot this because I had hoped to someday become a teacher, and this seemed like a mandate that I best remember and take seriously. Now that I am indeed responsible for raising others in the art, it is my hope to take my teacher’s declaration a bit further; I would like to raise at least three students that will surpass me in my understanding and execution of the art.
Think about it for a moment; in traditional martial arts there is a quietly accepted notion that the student will never surpass the teacher. But if we follow that logic to its conclusion, won’t that lead to a systematic deterioration of the art? Each generation falling just a bit short of the last. For my part, I do not want my students to be limited by my own meager accomplishments or understanding. Each day I labor to give them a good foundation and the basic tools needed for deeper study. The rest is up to them, and there are no boundaries.
It is my sincere wish to raise, or at least inspire, a few that will push beyond the limits of what I myself will discover or accomplish. I hope that they will become teachers that will do the same. I think all those years ago my teacher was trying to relay to us that it’s not about building one’s own legend; the true measure of a teacher is the legacy they leave.