By Sensei Bruce Perkins ( April 2005)
After having listened to a few conversations over the last year, I feel the need to address an issue that is the very foundation that our organization is built upon. It is also a trait that Sensei Shintani demonstrated every day of his life. What I’m referring to is called loyalty. In the Webster’s dictionary “loyal” is defined as: faithful, constant in devotion or regard. If you think of loyalty in those terms, then it becomes very simple, a person is either loyal to their spouse or they are not, a person is either loyal to their job or they are not, a person is either loyal to their friends or they are not, a student is either loyal to their sensei or they are not. We all know people who are loyal and people who are not. Take a moment and think about people you know who are loyal and those who are not. Sensei Shintani remained loyal to Sensei Otsuka until the day that he died - even after Sensei Otsuka passed away, Sensei Shintani remained loyal to his memory and his teachings. Sensei Shintani told us on numerous occasions “that’s the way Otsuka Sensei would want it done”. He believed in Otsuka Sensei while he was alive, and he still believed in him after he had passed away.
Watch the Kata Tape Volume 1 and listen to Sensei Shintani talk – you can see the devotion, respect and loyalty Sensei Shintani has for Otsuka Sensei.
How could it be any other way? If you are loyal and believe in your sensei when he is alive how can you not be loyal when he is gone? If all this is true, then how is it we have students that are moving away from their hometown to go to school (some only 2-4 hours away from home) and they are switching their sensei? How is it that we have people that have to relocate because of their jobs and they no longer become their sensei’s student? Where is the loyalty? Sensei Shintani taught us “peace and harmony” and yet we create conflict and turmoil by our actions.
If a student comes to your dojo from another club whether it is because of school or a job, they should be welcomed into your dojo to train. However, that does not mean that they become your student. You don’t collect students like you collect hockey cards! You should be honored that this person chose to train at your dojo while he is away from his sensei. If a niece or a nephew comes to stay with you for a while they don’t change parents! They stay in your home and abide by your rules, but their parents are always their parents.
This should also be true of a Sensei / student relationship, unless there are extreme circumstances that cannot be worked out. These extreme circumstances that I’m referring too, do not happen often; especially in our organization. Loyalty comes from both the instructor and the student. An instructor must be loyal to his students and the students must be loyal to their instructor. If we do not have this loyalty between in instructors and students, then the very foundation that the Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation was built upon is at risk.
Without loyalty to Sensei Shintani and his teachings, what do we have? We must remain loyal to what was dear to Sensei. If we don’t we also lose what was dear to Otsuka sensei, and we no longer have a connection to the past. By staying loyal to sensei and his teachings, I continue to learn from him. At times as I am teaching a class, something sensei said to me 10/15 years ago will finally make sense. That is one of the many rewards of being loyal.
In closing I just want to say that, this article was written not to point fingers, but to provoke thought. If you are reading this and you think that perhaps you have not been as loyal to your sensei / student as you should be, do something about it. Pick up the phone, send an email, arrange a meeting. Remember, the loyalty that you are demonstrating, be it good or bad is being picked up by you students or peers. Set an example for others to follow and it will be very rewarding.