There is a balance of give and take within the dojo. Whether it is between Sensei and student, Senpai and Kohai, two students, or two competitors, that balance must be maintained to preserve and develop your relationships within the karate world.
Often between Sensei and student, it can be hard to see that balance. It may seem that Sensei is always giving, and students often hit the pitfall of always taking. But Sensei will give the most to the students who give back – Sensei gives his or her time, knowledge, assistance, and effort to the students who are also giving back the most by doing things such as attending class, having a respectful attitude, trying hard, helping their juniors when appropriate, and incorporating advice.
Between Senpai and Kohai, the relationship is similar. Senpai is giving back to both their Sensei and to other students by correcting students, helping their juniors, and by always trying to set the best example of what a karateka should be. And you can give back to your Senpai by being respectful, listening to their advice, and doing your best to change your behavior to follow their advice.
Between any two karateka, no matter what the rank, you give to your partner by always doing your best. This manifests itself most prominently in partner training. You should always be giving your full effort. When going with your seniors, always give your best effort to help push them in training. When going with your juniors, set a good example and push your partner to just beyond their comfort level to continue to improve their training. In competition, always give your best effort to help push your opponent to be their best. Then in return, your partner will give their best to you and will help you improve.
If you want to get more out of training, then rather than look for what more you can take, look instead for what more there is for you to give. In all karate relationships, remember: you get what you give.
Submitted by: Kimberly Baran, Nidan