Responsibility of Rank

Traditional Ranking System

When we are involved in the art of Karate, we invest our time in effort, sweat, aches, pains in the pursuit of training in a mystical Asian martial art. Before long, we are rewarded with a new rank at various junctures of our studies. If we remain studious and persevere, one day we discover that our rank has risen to a point where we now exhibit enough skill set and understanding to enable us to assist in class and we therefore find our dojo role has become much more enhanced and humble self satisfaction is evident.

Along with rank and skill sets, we come to the realization that the higher we rise in rank, the more responsibility we now inherit.

Rank, we discover, entails much more within our training than we may first have thought. Sure, as rank rises, so does our involvement and responsibilities within the dojo, from assisting with Sensei’s classes to maybe doing various duties around the dojo. This is where it starts and as long as we train, our responsibilities to the art and others never end.

It is my belief that senior members of rank in the dojo by virtue of their status within, share their knowledge and understanding with those in need of assistance and/or have queries. That is to say, they should always be available to anyone needing extra help.
Leading by example is dogma, in warmups, in kihon (basics), technique application, kata and dojo events, etc., etc.
Those just learning and rising through the ranks need someone to light the way and clear the path, just as those Senseis that have gone before us, have lead the way for us on our journey.

Leadership and responsibility of rank should not just end at the dojo. As the study of our art becomes so much a part of our everyday life, so too should our learned responsibilities extend into our everyday dealings with those around us. Sharing, helping, encouraging and other positive notions are natural behavioural byproducts attributed to one recognizing ‘Responsibility of Rank’.
We, as students studying the art, are almost obliged to add positivity to those and the world around us. Our skill set may be quite obviously physical, but it doesn’t end there. If we have trained with the philosophical bent passed down onto us from others, it will outwardly show so much more than any physical manifestation of skills we have learned.

Gary Christensen – Renshi