During the course of martial arts training, leadership qualities develop intrinsically. In fact, the whole system of martial arts training revolves around the concept of leadership as its core. The Japanese concept of the Sensei aptly illustrates this point.
Leading by Example
A Sensei is not just a teacher or instructor. The role of a Sensei goes well beyond that. This is "the one who has walked the path before you". It is a title that demands of the holder to lead students solely by example. The student follows the Master. Whatever the Master demonstrates, the student will strive towards achieving. With a blank slate, the student will replicate the Sensei's teachings. If the Sensei shows good form and technique, the student will develop the same. If the Sensei displays bad kata, the student will develop the same.
Techniques, form, values, and the practice of developing good character are all elements that need to be taught by doing. It is extremely difficult to verbally teach someone how to kick properly or block effectively. The student will merely mimic the Sensei, trying to do what is shown, as it is shown. The Sensei has to lead the student by example; showing the right path by walking on it.
Leadership in Budo takes a very top-down approach. The higher ranks lead the lower ranks upwards by demonstrating what is required to be promoted to that level. The Sensei sets an example for the students. Senior students set similar examples for the junior students. As those juniors progress in their training, they in turn become the example for the newcomers.
With progress comes self-confidence. The martial arts grading system puts students through an intensive test before awarding them the next rank. Earning that rank gives the student the confidence to believe in themselves and their technical abilities. This enables them to confidently help their juniors: correcting technique, helping with form, practicing dojo etiquette, and so on.
Continuous Development Program
Ranks are mere milestones in the journey of Budo - a stepping stone to reach the next level of personal development. Therefore, one's journey does not end by reaching a milestone. It continues in pursuit of the next one. Thus, when someone becomes a Sensei, they do not stop training. Like the student, they, too, are constantly striving to improve themselves, elevating to higher levels of skill, wisdom and character.
If the Sensei does not progress, then the student's journey will also be limited. Only by walking on the path, continuously moving forward, can the journey be made. Stagnating at a milestone will only hold up the followers. Hence, Budo teaches continuous development, no matter how far along the journey one is: regardless of age, gender or rank.
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