barry wicksman
  • Hi, Andy Sensei! Thank you for all you have done to the Kendo community!

    This week I was especially interested in the questions you got about sensei authority, especially those who haven’t ranked. I came from the US with an extraordinary sensei; he had to be, because the local federation is very powerful, and our city rather isolated is in the extreme far reaches of the region. Now I moved overseas, and am really struggling with trusting my local sensei. He’s ni-dan and has not advanced since I’ve been here (more than four years), even when though takes students to test every fall. Our place in the federation here is similar to what I saw in the US; although a city of several million, we are the only dojo within a few hundred kilometer radius. But there are two other ni-dan in town who, in the opinion of most of the local kenshi, are far better teachers, and also do better kendo, yet the existing sensei has forbidden them from establishing a second federation dojo in our city.

    I particularly have trouble trusting this sensei because he has cheated at tournaments, and I even ended up as the victim of this by being personally banned from participation for a year at the national level, and my name was sent to every dojo in the country to be held up as an example. Had Sensei been censured as the primary actor, the entire dojo would have been banned, so I accepted the penalty and took the fall. But the fact that Sensei initiated the cheating still weighs heavy on me.

    Afterwards, some of the other kenshi approached me, asking to help take Sensei down. My duty to my US sensei and my own sense of honor meant I had to very firmly refuse, but I still don’t feel good about him as my teacher. Even before the pandemic it affected my attendance; I don’t want to train under someone whose teaching is so questionable.

    I know you are very busy, but I would be most appreciative of some advice on how to proceed.

    Grant Montoya

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