Earlier this year, Steven posed a question to me: “What are you looking for in a student?” It’s a weighty question and I told him that I’d have to think about it a while before I could answer. And I’ve been thinking. And thinking.
Here’s what I’ve come up with: I’m looking for character. The ryu requires people I can trust completely, who are of impeccable integrity, who are open to the experience of growing within the ryu. Such a student focuses on observing and listening; he or she trains wholeheartedly, honestly, diligently, and regularly and behaves respectfully towards other people at all times. The student must have complete faith in my teaching. He or she is steadfastly loyal to the ryu, the dojo, and me.
Now I don’t expect students to manifest all these qualities right out of the gate. But these are the qualities the ryu will need in its leaders to thrive in the future, and it is my responsibility to bring them out and enhance them within the context of our training. So, think before you act or speak; observe what is going on around you; be respectful; listen carefully; and never ever ever think that what you want or think you need is of the slightest importance in the larger scheme of things–it’s my prerogative to consider and determine what the ryu needs and your role in it. I’m not perfect, but I’ll do my utmost to usher the ryu forward into the future. I’d be grateful for your help, but in the end, it must always be on the ryu’s terms.