I am please to announce that over the weekend of the national championships on the Gold Coast 8-9 October, one of our own black belts, Helen O’Grady passed her Jun-Shidoin grading.Â Jun-Shidoin is the first international teaching qualification, literally meaning assistant instructor.Â With her new qualification, we should now refer to her as Sensei Helen.Â I’m sure it will take a little bit of getting used to for everyone, because she has been assisting in the dojo for some time as a Senpai (Senior).Â Sensei Helen is our first home grown instructor on the Sunshine Coast and we look forward to many more in the years ahead.
You never know, those who graded last weekend, Saturday 15 October may well be on their way already following in Sensei Helen’s footsteps.Â Congratulations to the following people who graded last weekend.
12th Kyu – Yellow Belt
Chloe Henderson, Jamie Thom, Luc Jones, Cassandra Keogh-Lawler, Jakob Henderson, Harry Pettett, Leona Ryan
11th Kyu – Orange Belt (White Stripe)
Savannah Kemp, Kate Pettett, Ross Gray, Kodey Tonner Jones, Harvey McCormack, Jean-Luc McGee, Ross Donnelly, Alexandra Thom, Dante Shera
10th Kyu – Orange
Belt Bella Smith-Leishman
9th Kyu – Green Belt (White Stripe)
Keiko Kabasawa, Ben Fleming, Lachlan Nicholson, Mitchell Keefe
8th Kyu – Green Belt
Adam Amos, Jodie Marriott, Henrik Flynn, Jasmine Leask, Lachlan Whale, Zac Neasmith, Blake Jones, Wendy Boman
3rd Kyu – Brown Belt (White Stripe)
Patrick Kitchen, George Britchford, Donell Cook
There will be one more grading this year, Saturday 3 December.Â Keep working hard on your basics and make the most of all the great opportunities coming up in the next few months.Â Committed to Black Belt seminar this weekend, training with Soke Sensei next week and of course all your regular classes in the dojo.
For those who enjoy a good read, I have included an extract from Sensei Helen’s Jun-Shidoin grading essay below (with her permission of course).Â Be sure to leave a comment below if you enjoy the read.
The first and most fundamental role of the instructor in the Chito-Ryu dojo is to pass on the basic skills and techniques, values and principles embodied in Chito-ryu Karate Do. An instructor must have a good knowledge and understanding of the ICKF standard international grading syllabus, including the kata, fitness, theory requirements and key basics for each level so that they can effectively teach and prepare students and keep them progressing through the ranks towards shodan and beyond. It is the role of the instructor first and foremost, to always lead by example. It is not sufficient to just understand and know the grading syllabus, but an instructor must also be able to demonstrate a practical ability and understanding of these requirements.
Being a student of Chito-Ryu Karate Do however is much more than just learning physical techniques and it is the role of the instructor to ensure that students also have a solid understanding and foundation in the values and principles that underpin our style. The Showa is an excellent guide to the attitudes and values that we want to be instilling in our students and of the values that an instructor should be striving always to uphold in their own personal journey. Values and qualities such as; Shugyo, a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and a deeper understanding of the martial arts, Bushido, the spirit of the samurai characterised by a life of service to others and the seven principles ofÂ respect, justice, Courage, benevolence, truth, honor and loyalty. Wa and Nin, peace and perseverance, approaching our study with a sense of calm and acceptance of all that is, and lastly, the knowledge that if we work hard, persevere we can achieve whatever we set our minds to.
It is interesting to note that these very same principles that it is the role of the instructor to pass on to the student (shugyo, bushido, wa, nin), are also some of the fundamental qualities needed to become a good instructor. This is why it is vitally important to always lead by example and always to try to live by the standards we set for our students. The concept of Shugyo, continual study and self improvement, is an extremely important quality for an instructor to have. We never stop learning in Karate, there is no end point â€˜walking this endless road, becoming better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today- throughout oneâ€™s life is a true image of the way of karate.â€™( Ginchin Funakoshi, Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate) and similarly we never stop learning as an instructor. A good instructor will always be striving to improve their teaching techniques and learning new teaching styles so that they can always be giving their students the best chance to grow and learn. It is important to understand the different learning styles, auditory, kinesthetic and visual and how this affects the way a student learns and recognize these styles in the student, so that we can tailor our delivery of instructions in a way that is easily understood and followed by them. By understanding each student as an individual and catering to that, we are less likely to exclude certain people because they struggle or donâ€™t progress as fast as others. It is important to celebrate every student and their successes, not just those who excel, because karate do is about the journey, and the more people we can encourage to stay on that journey, the more people will enjoy benefits of shugyo, a life dedicated to mastery and self improvement.
Many of the qualities found in â€˜Bushidoâ€™ or â€˜the way of the samuraiâ€™ are important qualities for the karate instructor also. Respect or rei is fundamental to the student/teacher relationship. â€˜ do not forget that karate-do begins and ends with reiâ€¦.When those who honor themselves transfer that feeling of esteem- that is, respect- to others, their action is nothing less than an expression of Rei â€˜(pg20 Ginchin Funakoshi, Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate)Â There must always be mutual respect between the two parties. Respect is not something an instructor can demand or force upon a student; it must be earned through acting in a respectful way. â€˜It should be noted that although a personâ€™s deportment may be correct, without a sincere and reverent heart, they do not possess true rei. True Rei is an outward expression of a respectful heart.â€™ â€˜(Pg20 Ginchin Funakoshi, Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate). Similarly the other qualities of Bushido of loyalty and benevolence are a two way street. An instructor must be loyal and kind to their student and willing to go out of their way to help the student to grow and learn if they want to receive loyalty in return.
The qualities of Wa and Nin (roughly translated as â€˜peace and perseveranceâ€™â€™) are also indispensable in a good instructor. Wa describes a state of inner being as well as a peaceful relationship between the individual and the outside world. In karate training, this state of peace and calm within helps one to overcome frustrations, fears and other extreme emotions that may have a detrimental effect on performance, either in training or in combat. It increases awareness of what is happening around you and your responsiveness to it. In a teaching sense, this state of peace both within and with others helps to create a positive learning environment where everyone feels comfortable and that they have equal opportunity to learn and grow. It helps to maintain an attitude of patience and tolerance of all students, no matter where they are in their journey. Further to this I think it helps the instructor to be more aware of the energy level and feeling of a student, enabling them to adapt their teaching style from day to day, minute to minute depending on what the student needs. This ability to be intuitive and adapt to the students changing needs is an important quality for an instructor to have if they are going to have the ability to motivate and inspire students every class. An instructor must be able to oversee an entire class, constantly monitoring every student, looking out for hazards, people slipping behind, people who are bored and not being challenged, all the while giving personal one on one attention to each student, without a peaceful mind all of these things can become overwhelming.
Other qualities it is important for an instructor to have is the ability to manage a group, assess who is in the class, their ages and levels, and design a program that is going to challenge everyone and help them all to leave class feeling they have learned something. An instructor must have the confidence to lead the group, speak up when things are getting away from them and delegate where necessary. They need to have the humility to know they make mistakes and the confidence to just move forward from those mistakes and learn from them. If a chosen activity turns out to be dangerous or is not having the desired teaching effect then an instructor needs to know when to stop or change the activity for the benefit of everyone in the class.