‘Sempai’ means teacher in Japanese. Before you start thinking that I was some kind of Karate whiz kid or something, let me clarify that I just learned Karate for about a year. Yeah, I was a jack of all trades – Happy? 🙂
There are a very few teachers who have infinite zeal and passion for their jobs. Very few of them communicate that passion to their students effectively. Very few of them are actually made for their jobs. My Karate Sempai was one of them!
I was studying in 7th Standard back then. Since many of my friends joined in Karate classes, I too did. I was quite enthusiastic like the other children of that age, because I now had an opportunity to kick and punch others! Alas, for the first three months, all we learned was exercise & Kattas!
Kattas are like dance steps but they contain a mixture of certain offensive moves and defensive moves and we used to do it as a group. After the initial three months, I graduated from White belt to Orange belt.
This is when we start to spare (fight). Everyone gets to form a big circle and two members fight each other. Generally, these fights are pretty simple and sometimes even fun. Its rare for anyone to get injured. But my very first fight was a nightmare.
I was called in and was asked to fight with a guy who was much senior to me. I had no idea what to do – So, I was just standing. This guy suddenly decides to practice his reverse kick and that kick lands right on my face! I was expected to move away or defend, but that was my first fight!
There was even some blood coming out from my mouth. They gave me some first aid and made me sit. After a couple of minutes, I told my Sempai that I wanted to go home. He said that I could go only when everyone got to leave. That was my first lesson – Don’t run home when you are hit!
After some initial sessions, I got used to sparing. One day, we were asked to fight our Sempai. Since he was a Black belt holder, he was able to easily defend all our offensive moves and he even landed some punches and kicks on us. Of course, they didn’t hurt much but I thought it was unfair for a Black belt holder to fight with Orange belt holders like that.
So I went and asked him why he was hitting us while he clearly had an advantage over us. His reply still lingers on in my mind.
“Karate is not an offensive martial art. The purpose of Karate is to learn to defend yourselves. There is no point of hitting your opponent with the most powerful punch, when you are not able to get up and fight back after they hit you with their most powerful punch. So, getting trained on receiving the most powerful blows is just as important as I want you guys to get up and fight after getting knocked down”
My respect for my Karate Sempai, increased. One day, the people in the school management brought some juice for all of us and an attender kept them on the side. Even though we were in the middle of the training, we all ran towards it and started drinking the juice. If this had happened during our NCC class, our instructor would have hit us with a stick! Our Sempai was quiet all that time.
After we came back, he said – ‘Aren’t you guys being fed properly at home?’ We were stunned. That one line was effective enough for us to remain disciplined for the rest of the course!
Once in three-four months, he used to organize get-together camps. These were held in our school auditorium premises where all of us could come in casual clothing. We were required to present one unique talent that we had outside Karate. People could sing, dance, tell jokes, etc.
We were required to bring food from home, but no one could eat their own food! We had to open it and place it in a common location and anyone could eat anything! He would then ask us questions like what was our rank in the recent examinations, what we thought about the History we studied, etc!
If there was one teacher who was interested in our overall development, it was our Karate Sempai! It seems he was working as a Captain in some Ship and went back to his job after a year. We lost a good teacher, but the ship got a good Captain!
These posts, filed under the category ‘My Autobiography’ are written to record certain important events/ incidents in my life, so that I can refer to them while writing my actual Autobiography after many years. My autobiography book will come out in the name, ‘Destination Infinity’. Please buy it when it comes 🙂