Saturday, October 23, 2010
What "Shihan" Means to Me
I first met Hanshi John Kraemer when I was about 7-8 years old and at that time I called him Shihan. Shihan was always the optimistic ball of energy that would come down to visit his AZ Family and give us every ounce of himself with what time he had before heading back to WA. John has always had a humble approach with his students and considers himself a servant of mankind.
Our family quickly took to his teachings and adopted him as our immediate instructor when we started pursuing our own dreams of a Family Dojo. Over the years we've had our obstacles to overcome: economy, students base/ retention, evolving or art, structuring our curricula, keeping high energy in low times. Yet all along, we still had John close to us in heart, guiding us and providing sound advise when the light seemed dim. Had he ceased contact with us, I don't think we would've gotten nearly as far as we have. Hanshi has always had a righteous character for as long as I've known him.
Sure he's not perfect, and will always be the first to admit it as he knows that his journey through the arts is not all about him. As you progress through the ranks of ShinPu-Ren you begin to understand putting others first and giving of yourself to see that the others make it. As John put it, "When it comes to rank, being at the tippy top penthouse suite gets lonely, so if you bring yourself down to another's level, you start to understand them as they are and from there you can both start learning from one another."
He has so many great views and perspectives on how one can lead a virtuous life that I'm inclined to follow the man. So when I hear people call me Shihan, I think of him, and this coerces me to think appropriately, speak good words, and take good action. It makes me want to raise myself to a higher standard, realize my students potential, and struggle at getting them to realize it themselves. This perspective, I owe to my Hanshi and will continue to do my best to make him and everyone involved proud to call me Shihan.