Shinmyoken Dojo

Westchester | New York

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Monday, February 27, 2023

What Is The Role Of A Martial Arts Sensei?


What is the role of a martial arts teacher?

In the Japanese martial arts, the sensei?

In popular martial arts, the sensei is often seen as a teacher at best, or authority figure at worst. Certainly the sensei has to have a command of the subject matter, and a certain amount of skill- depending on the martial art, one can be authorized to teach based on different ranking levels.

Yet, with all this the primary role of the sensei is to lead.

To be able to transmit the feeling of the art in a way so students can pick up on it, while at the same time, correcting the mistakes of the student.

The sensei does not determine how far the individual will go in the martial arts, they are not a gate-keeper. The student determines how far they will go based on skill, desire, commitment, and warrior heart (mushashin).

The sensei guides the process.

Many people want to be a sensei, but if they realized the gravity of the situation and the responsibility to the student and tradition, perhaps they would think otherwise.

Consider these two points.

A person trained in the martial arts for twenty years before becoming a sensei, either by choice, or obligation. Based on where they are in movement for twenty years, what took them twenty years to achieve, they *should* be able to get any students training under them to move in a similar way in half the time.

The mistakes the sensei made along the way in training, the corrections, and adjustments, they should be aware of them, and not pass them on to the student, likewise being able to correct and eliminate these mistakes.

A second, more sobering point.

In instructing a student, and passing the transmission of the martial arts- regarding mistakes a student makes in movement.

The sensei has an obligation to point out and correct *every* mistake a student makes.

For those watching outside the dojo, for those who don’t understand budo, this can seem harsh, but rather it is a complete action of compassion.

What happens outside the dojo, the safety of the dojo, if a student makes a mistake and something happens?

If the sensei did not point it out, that responsibility falls on the sensei.

It is in matters like these that the sensei has full responsibility, so they must be perfectly-clear in all instruction.

The aim of the Shinmyoken dojo (school of the life giving sword) is to understand nature and the movement of being zero through taijutsu. The school exists to create and transmit this through the experience of isshi soden.

Located in Westchester New York, the 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 arts 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. In our group there is no beginner or advanced classes, as we all have the capacity to learn the martial arts in great stride. 

No previous martial arts experience is needed, new members, and out of town or traveling Bujinkan buyu are always welcome. 

The focus of the group is to make progress each week in learning the martial arts, developing skill, self-defense ability, and an understanding of how and why people move. 

Training is supervised by Fred Feddeck who has been studying the Bujinkan dojo martial arts since 1993. 

In 2003 he was honored to take the godan shinsha with the training group later forming as a vehicle to study what he has been taught and experienced in the Bujinkan dojo martial arts. 

Joe Maurantonio, dai-shihan, is and continues to be his teacher and mentor. 


Training in budo taijutsu through our dojo is offered in three class formats. 

The first is our weekly Saturday morning classes from 9-11 AM at a local park in Yonkers which is accessible by car, bus, and Metro North train. 

Second is our regular weekly zoom class as a way to build on the physical practice-paired movements explored in our Saturday classes. 

Third is our monthly discussion class exploring martial arts philosophy, history, tactics, and kuden. 


Membership in the dojo is open to those eighteen years of age or older and who can abide by the rules of the Bujinkan. 

Those interested in joining the dojo will be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire as an introduction and meet with the head instructor before an invitation to watch a class will be extended, general martial arts questions and other training inquiries are also welcome. 

Questions, comments, feedback, and inquiries may be emailed here:


In that moment of action, regardless of style, technique, or application in the martial arts there is only movement. 

The point in time when action takes over and there is only you and the other person- will you know what to do? 

What are the martial arts?

How are these arts transmitted to the next generation? 

How does one “learn” the martial arts?  

Our martial arts are about movement and understanding how the human body works mechanically.  

There are no techniques or set forms- the transition of the art is in understanding the manipulating of distance and timing. It is the passing of eternal ideas and strategies from teacher to student as it was done by the Japanese samurai for hundreds of years before. 

Our practice is about illustrating the concepts so one can better understand them and begin to see them in the day to day movement of people. 

First you understand yourself and how you move, then how others move, and finally by combining the two one arrives at the transmission of the art. 

Our art is about creating opportunity in the moment, an opportunity to put yourself in a better situation, an opportunity to neutralize a situation, and opportunity above all others to escape a situation and make it back home safely. 

These are the questions we explore in each class, and the solution to that moment of action- in that moment of critical decision there is only movement.  

Training Principals:

Control the distance, timing, & rhythm.

Movement will open up opportunities for techniques. 

Always keep moving! 

Self-defense is NOT about fighting, it is about escaping and extracting yourself from a dangerous situation.

Forget the notion of beginner or advanced, every moment in training has the opportunity for a personal breakthrough.

The most important martial arts skill is not about fighting, it is awareness of the situation before, during, and after.

First you become aware of how your own body moves in the martial arts, then how your training partner’s body moves, and then you prevent them from moving with the awareness of how you move.

Training incorporates a variety of movement skills, including strikes, throws, locks, and immobilizations, along with studying a number of traditional Japanese training tools such as the sword, stick, and spear: kenjutsu, bojutsu, sojutsu.

These martial arts lessons are used as a way to understand human movement, how the individual moves, how other people move, and how they all move when it come together, allowing for the practitioner to adapt appropriately for the situation at hand.

Shinmyoken Dojo

Westchester | New York

Email Contact: