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ARTICLES & COMMENTS

POWER

by Harry G. Smith

 

   When this text is being read and studied the reader must understand that it is my firm belief that the parent is the ultimate authority. The Sensei, the teacher, is but a tool for the parent to use to obtain what is best for the child, the student. If just one child is adversely affected by my teachings then anything else I do will be of no benefit, no value to anyone.

 

   We must realize that the designation "role model" is often misunderstood, misused, and most importantly, not consciously even considered. Those who are in power invariably never realize the consequences of their actions and in fact do not even seem to care.

 

   Being a nine to fiver is not enough. Being a hero is not enough; obviously being President is not enough. So just what is and who qualifies as a role model?

 

   To begin with I will attempt to set to paper my thoughts without offending those who must assume the role as single parent. Herein lies the true need to treat power with respect. When one, either man or woman, is cast into the role as single parent, the power that person has, when treated selfishly, causes irreparable damage to the innocent, the child.

 

   The next question from the reader is what does all this have to do with teaching karate? The answer to that is simple. I believe children quickly assume the aura of the parents. Children have absolutely no idea what is expected of them or what it is they are going to be subjected to when beginning to walk the path of martial arts. They mirror the thoughts of the parents. Parents, for the most part, accept and believe everything they see and hear set forth by the Sensei without even questioning those actions or the ability of the Sensei. When a parent attempts to make the child a mirror image of what the parent wants to be and cannot be, trouble is sure to follow. Here is the true meaning of power.

 

Power! I'll tell you a story of true power.

 

   I once watched a program about incredible magic acts. First a woman was chained to a post. Fire wood and accelerates were added to the area. A man was then handcuffed, tied up, blindfolded, put in a straight jacket, and finally stuffed into a padlocked box. The object of the trick was for the man to escape from the box before the woman was set afire by a timed action. The man was just a little late in escaping; the woman was burned just a bit. There was no thought of the woman's injury, just the incredible act of the magician. This is power. The power a person has over another person, whether it be money, love, or a desire of the person being burned to be noticed, mores the pity.

 

   When I get frustrated with a student's inability to perform properly I demonstrate what and how a move or action should be completed. I have the ability to not touch, or just touch lightly, a part of the student's body without inflicting any damage. We call this pulling punches or kicks. I do this even knowing I have the ability to turn that move into a killing action. Such would be the abuse of power. Sometimes that power backfires. Many years ago I agreed to demonstrate my kicking ability. I made contact just a bit more than necessary, causing minor pain, or at least the recipient said it hurt just a bit. That is power. The ability to be able to cause a person to just stand there and allow me to do this. Yes, this is power, but more, this is abuse of power.

 

Ego vs. Common Sense

 

   Tournaments have changed over the years. No more intermission demonstrations, that time to allow a Sensei to show off, have his ego stroked. Now days the judging takes the place of demonstrations. Yes, someone caused a chain reaction for the better, probably a parent. For what parent with any sense would allow their child to lie on his back and allow the one in power, the Sensei, to chop an apple from the child's neck, using a very large sharp sword. At this point the power should have changed hands, from the Sensei to the parent. There is and never was a reason for any human being to be the scapegoat, the one being used as a way to have the Sensei's ego stroked.

 

   Put an egotist in a corner position as a judge. He is praying for a point to be scored, a point that gives the egotistical judge a chance to demonstrate. When the punch is scored you will actually see him doing his version of the punch. I heard just a short time ago this was the way judging was meant to be. Forget it. Better yet, the next time you attend a tournament, during the black belt meeting, take a good look around. You will see what I am speaking of.

 

   After all these years proper rules of the tournament, rules of engagement so to speak, should be well known. Some attend the tournament just to go to this meeting and then after the meeting take a corner judging the efforts of a hard working student. Here you will see the abuse of power. Historically, judging was to protect, to honor the student's efforts, not the judges. There was a time when a student had to fight only one person at a time. Today he is fighting six. Each ring now has five adults squeezed into a 12x12 area. When trained properly a student will notice the actions of these judges, thereby destroying the student's focus. Yes, some will say that on the street there could be a time when more than one person could attack the student so this distraction would be helpful. This could be true, but at a tournament we are not training the student, we are judging his abilities. His training takes place in the dojo. It is very hurtful and improper for a judge to even speak to a student regarding the student's proficiency and interpretation of kumite and kata. No two Sensei teach the same way and in Isshinryu no two schools teach the same kata.

 

   There was a time when one of the students wore a piece of red material. This was because four of the five judges had to sit in a corner holding two flags, one red and one white. When a point was scored the proper flag designation was raised immediately. Of course the judge could not also, at the same time, demonstrate the point he saw.

 

True Power

 

   Children, when deprived of a father figure, will easily transfer their want to the Sensei. It is the responsibility of the Sensei to recognize this need and treat this need with respect, not abuse his power. The Sensei's common sense will give the student a much-needed crutch. The crutch will disappear when the Sensei teaches the student that the crutch is no longer necessary.

 

   The Sensei has the power to change the course of a child's life, especially when that life is headed in the wrong direction. The Sensei must keep the child on the "Right Path."

 

Power: The Ability to Exercise Control

 

   Teaching properly, training properly, will bring serenity to both Sensei and student. This serenity could easily be misused, for serenity brings self-confidence and power. Serenity not strengthened with compassion turns evil.

 

   Give a child a false dream, attempt to teach something that is not obtainable, and giving false hopes, will only breed yet another generation of weaklings.

 

   Where else, what job, what force, what money, what social level, can automatically give a person power without the slightest effort? False power is obtained easily enough just by saying I am an expert in the art of karate, I have the ability to teach effectively. Of course your next step is to pay $50.00 for dinner and along with your dinner comes your rank, giving you the appearance of being what you claim to be. Of course you pay $150.00 for that recognition. Just put your paid for plaque on the wall, and you are a Sensei. The next step is to kid yourself into believing you really are what you say you are.

 

   In order to make my point just remember the very first time you stepped in front of a class and be honest with yourself. In a karate class you have the power to teach a child the proper meaning of discipline and respect. Just by walking in front of your first class and opening your mouth the power is yours. This power becomes evil when there is only talk no action, teaching myth instead of reality, allowing your ego to accept your own lies. Of course when power is used with evil intent, it destroys the soul.

 

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Copyright 2005 Harry G. Smith