I feel it is time that I should put down the philosophy teachers should hold toward their students. This is what I want to see from all those who choose to associate with me as their instructor.
First, the student is a respected and valuable individual whom you are trying to aid in becoming a more capable person. One who's skills in ninjutsu and knowledge of the principles upon which our art is based permit them to live a more self directed and fulfilling life. A life that is a positive force within our society. This can only happen by
cooperating with others for mutual benefit, it is never done by dominating or controlling another's life.
Second, an instructor does not let their ego control their actions, they accept that the student is learning and doesn't always have control of their technique. It is the instructor's responsibility to keep training to a level where injury is rare, not common. Pain is always inflicted ONLY as a teaching tool and NEVER at a level the student cannot handle. It is never used to punish a student, our job is to mentor not dominate.
Students should never feel the need to 'fear' us. Respect is something that we as instructor's must earn, it is never demanded.
Third, it is important that the atmosphere in the dojo or training area be one of friendship and joy of training so that the most possible learning can happen. Students learn best when they are relaxed and comfortable, not when they fear for their well-being. We should strive to be a friend as well as mentor to our students. Being a “sensei” or instructor is more an important responsibility then an exalted position.
The instructor always sets the tone for what happens in class and it is his or her responsibility to make certain that this “tone” is one that aids the learning process. Overly demanding formality can be detrimental to this learning process. Your true value is in what you can teach them to do, not in what you can do.
Fourth, we are mentors of our students, we do not rule their lives or tell them what they must do. That is their personal responsibility. If they have activities in their life that you cannot accept then first you talk with the student and explain why it isn't acceptable, if then they can't change your option is to no longer teach them. We recommend, we guide, we aid and teach, we do not control.
Fifth, we need to be an example for the student as to where they want to go. This is a heavy responsibility, and no instructor is perfect, we all have human failings. We should always be up front about our flaws and seek never to have those hinder a student's growth. Students too are flawed humans and we need to be patient and understanding with them and each other.
Sixth, it is very important that groups (dojos) work together. This is the way all of us gain the most from this art. We must treat each other fairly without letting ego get in the way. Negative criticism and character assassination do not promote good healthy relationships between teachers and students from other dojos and countries. These
actions are to be avoided for the benefit of all.
NO ONE KNOWS IT ALL and requesting or “demanding” that students not talk with other individuals is a very dangerous attitude as it causes problems within groups and between individuals. Remember we work together for MUTUAL benefit, so all of us learn and improve.
Edward H Martin
15th dan Bujinkan Ninjutsu