When it comes to being a senior student, or “senpai,” there are many responsibilities that come with the territory. A senpai is expected to be strong and substantive in their practice; they must embody a sincerity in training that juniors come to know and respect. But there is another “S” word that I have been talking to my senior students about lately, and it is one that is much more difficult for them to grasp.
The topic of my recent discussions with them has been “sensitivity” in practice. As students move further along the path they gain the tools necessary to practice at a higher level. Sometimes they will pair with one another and really let it go for a bit; often testing the limits of their ability to both give and receive technique. However, it is the duty and responsibility of more experienced practitioners to always be aware of their partners skill level, and to practice accordingly. The constant refinement of one’s sensitivity in training is absolutely essential to the purpose of making sure we engage in safe and constructive practice.
There is a noteworthy caveat here, sometimes sensitivity can be confused with coddling, and in the practice of Martial Arts, that should not be our aim. Yes, we learn to take care of newer students, but we do so through cautiously-applied, sincere technique. The objective of achieving proper sensitivity in practice is not to simply “take it easy,” on people, but rather to thoughtfully and skillfully discern the maximum application that may be applied safely and productively.
(S)o, to (S)ummarize: A good (S)enpai should be (S)trong,
(S)ubstantive, and (S)incere in training, yet ever-mindful to temper those qualities with the proper (S)ensitivity in all (S)ituations.
Today’s thought was brought to you by the letter S, by the ongoing desire to question Y, and with a strong sense of gratitude for all of U.
See you on the mat!