Duties of the senior student

What responsibilities do the senior students have in a Martial Art school?. It is an important question. A good senior students knows that the strength of the school, and the strength of his art rests upon the next generation of students, and therefore cares for it with diligence.

Spending time teaching and encouraging junior students ( Junior refers to not just age, but also is used to refer to those of a lower belt ranking than oneself) is only a part of the responsibility of a senior student. Another duty is the constant evaluation of the juniors skill and the ability to adjust to that level during practice. Consider for example a junior who is working on a low parry with a 45 degree forward shuffle movement and his higher graded training partner who is performing the kick for him or her. A self-centered senior would use this session as an opportunity to practice only his technique, uncorking one powerful kick after another. A more mature senior however will be adjusting his/her kicks. He or she will unleash some strong kicks to allow the junior student the ability to understand the techniques potential and then ease up and deliver some more slowly allowing the junior grade the ability to work the defensive movement. This helps the junior to get a feeling for the technique and makes them feel more competent. At the same time the senior is not neglecting their own training. When executing kicks at the slower speeds they are evaluating their own kicking form. Is the knee cocked correctly? Is the hip thrusting forward as it should? The senior is honing their own techniques while seeing to the instructional needs of those below them.

The senior student must also remember that while they are evaluating the juniors form the juniors are also watching and evaluating the senior. They will notice if the senior shows favoritism to a student of the opposite gender while ignoring those of the same gender. They will notice the seniors attendance habits and take note of frequent absences. They will notice if the senior shows respect for his Instructor and his dojo. They will in short notice if the senior lives the precepts of his or her art, and if it's values are translated into actions, both in and out of the training hall.

It is not easy to be a senior student of Martial Arts. It is similar to the process of growing up and realizing that there is a younger generation behind you that trusts you for its care. It is up to you as a senior student not to disappoint these individuals and therefore also disappoint yourself by not realizing your true potential as both a martial artist and as a human being. For what use is the refinement and understanding of a martial art if after your time on earth is done you have not passed your knowledge and understanding on to others so that future generations may come to know and enjoy the fruits of their labors as you yourself have done.