It is with this in mind that I finally started an initiative that I have been thinking about for a long time. It is a small start, but I hope it will grow over time.
Lev Vygotsky offers a way for us to understand the value of peer teaching, which appears in all good dojos around the world: the sempai-kouhai relationship.
They say the suit maketh the man, and while that’s a bit narrow, it is helpful to paraphrase it as the gi maketh the warrior. A clean gi (or do-gi) is a sign of respect, not only for oneself but towards one’s dojo and fellow training partners. To arrive in a dirty, untidy gi is to show…
But as an adult beginner, the constant corrections are overwhelming, and sometimes humiliating. It’s hard not to feel like a failure, and to think that no one else has ever been this bad at karate, or aikido, or judo, or whatever you choose to do. But you know what? There isn’t a senior who wasn’t a junior, and who doesn’t learn every day from the junior students they teach. You’re not slowing anyone down by asking for help.