Dojo Senior Student

In the Japanese martial arts we have the concept of the senior and junior student, the sempai and kohai.

Senior/junior in this case does not refer to age, but rather expectations.

Who is senior and who is junior?

It’s easy.

Everybody who started before you is a senior, and everybody after you a junior.

Your relationships with others in the dojo is always one or the other, with you personally in the middle.

So why the system?

Many reasons, but harmony is one.

Time spent each week in class is limited, the idea is to get the most out of the experience, have the most amount of time for the teacher to transmit the lessons, not waste time or deal with mundane things.

This is one of the reasons why we see students setting up the dojo as a group before class, or taking care of certain things- this way when the teacher or instructor arrives, they can well teach, as everything is ready to go.

Questions are normal in class, and the junior/senior system is a way to resolve it.

As your senior why something is the way it is, or why something is done that way.

Seniors are also responsibly for helping junior students get up to speed and learn the customs of the dojo- simple stuff like how to tie a belt, and perhaps more complicated stuff like bowing or certain ideas or phrases in the dojo.

Sempai/kohai as a system of harmony in the dojo.

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Located in Westchester New York, the Bujinkan Shinmyoken Dojo is a martial arts training group founded in 2005 with the aim of coming together as martial arts friends to study the Japanese martial art of Masaaki Hatsumi through the lessons of the Bujinkan dojo.

As friends (buyu) we come together to grow, learn, and share our individual potential in this wonderful martial art.

Questions, comments, feedback, and inquiries may be emailed to the group here: