In this months kendo nippon I read a short article by a 8 dan I occasionally have the pleasure to fence. In the article he mentions a phrase “師弟同行” (shitei doko), and its this that I wish to examine briefly here.
There are two separate words here, so lets look at their definition:
師弟 (shitei) – teacher and student (the relationship between them).
同行 (doko/dokyo) – accompanying; travelling together; fellow pilgrim.
I think by looking at the above you’ve already got a good idea of the meaning. It basically means that both the teacher and the student are travelling the same path together. I say “teacher and student” but we can easily use it to describe other budo relationships such as “sempai and kohai” and “motodachi and kakarite.” The article talks about this relationship and how the more experienced person should act in a jigeiko situation.
He talks about how both people must do jigeiko with the idea of learning/studying kendo, not just the junior of the pair. As the senior grade, you can easily slip into just standing there and allowing yourself to receive blows, or to spent your time mostly teaching. In this way, you are not studying yourself, he says, and that it becomes hard to pull the most out from the junior of the pair.
Instead of this, raise your spirit to match – or even exceed – your opponent. Its your job to fight above their level. While you are fighting them look at their kendo and if you can find an area that is lacking, help to pull this up. Explain in words if necessary.
The junior of the pairs job is to attack with full spirit without worrying about getting hit. Look for chances and take them without hesitation, using any and all waza at your disposal.
If both the senior and junior person approach jigeiko in this manner, both sides will learn from the experience, and jigeiko should become more fulfilling and worthwhile.
If follows, of-course, that sometimes you are the senior, and sometimes you are the junior. This holds true for everyone, even 8 dans. We are, after all, on the same path.