What I learned from the greatest teacher in my life


When I was 7 years old my father joined me up for summer classes. These classes involved Drawing, Keyboard, and Karate. I absolutely hated going to these classes because it meant I had to get out of my comfort zone at home and get ready every evening to learn. I wasn’t particularly enjoying the fact that I had to study something during the holidays, you know; the time that’s supposed to be freedom from schooling. Nevertheless, I went, mostly because of my father’s ability to irritate me into going. He was highly skilled when it came to making you feel bad until you attended the classes.

Throughout my two-and-a-half-month long vacation, I attended classes 5 days a week. First an hour of Drawing, then an hour of Karate, and finally an hour of Keyboard. By the time I was done with classes for the day; I’d be exhausted, and upon reaching home I would jump right onto the bed and fall asleep. Looking back, I can’t help but think about whether this was a ploy by my Mom and Dad to get me out of the house because they couldn’t tolerate me annoying them.

The classes were mostly fine, they weren’t really engaging, mostly because of the hundreds of students that were present. The teachers were fine, they cracked a few jokes here and there, enough to bring us back to what was going on in class. However, of all the teachers I came across, the one that I liked the most was my Karate Sensei. His name was Joju. The guy didn’t speak proper English, most of what he said was devoid of any grammar whatsoever, but he could keep us entertained and engaged. He often shared stories from his own life, stories involving the time he lived in Japan, his dream to make his mother back in India proud, and to be able to live with her in a proper home, as well as a lot of other things.

Regardless of the stories, what we liked most about my Karate Sensei as kids were the times he allowed us to play whatever we wanted. These were usually the days he showed up slightly late and found us in the middle of a game like cops-and-robbers. Sometimes he’d even join us. Those were really memorable times. Yet, with all of this fun, we were slowly learning karate; and many of us even got our the first belts before the Holidays were over.

Towards the end of vacations; the only reason I kept going to summer classes was because of my interest in Karate. School started in mid-September and my father finally agreed to cancel the classes I didn’t like. But I still had to attend one of the classes, any one of my choosing. So I picked Karate.

I still remember my Karate classes fondly. I attended them for over 5 years. I received my Black Belt when I was 12 years old. It was a big event, I was so proud that day. Receiving the belt from Sensei still remains one of my best memories. It really feels great to finally achieve something that involved years of hard work and determination. In the words of Viggo Tarasov, I had to become “…a man of sheer f*cking will” to achieve what I had achieved, and it was worth every bit of the work put in.

However, not so unlike life, when you gain something; you’ve got to lose something. This time around, it was the greatest teacher of my life. Sensei Joju left soon after I got my Black Belt. He’d been preparing to leave for a while but had held back because he wanted to see me and a few other students receive the Black Belt.

The Lesson

They say you only understand the value of something after you lose it. And I only understood Sensei Joju had been the greatest teacher in my life after he was gone. Looking back today; I understand what made him the greatest teacher. It was his love for what he taught. The amount of passion and dedication to Karate that emanated from this man was immeasurable. His passion for the subject nurtured an interest in the subject within his students. I believe to this day that it was his love for the craft that instilled the love for Karate in me.

My takeaway from these memories is that: you cannot ever learn something without possessing a love for the subject. If you want to teach yourself something, you must be interested in it or be passionate about it. Alternatively, you must find a teacher that loves the subject. No amount of external pressure or necessity can help you learn something as well as you would; if you were passionate about it.

I miss Sensei, I wish to see him once more at his home in India one day. I want to thank him for all that he taught me and for showing me the power of a great teacher. Because he was and still is the greatest teacher in my life.

Thank you very much for reading this post, I hope you found something of value from my experience. I’m interested to know if you have had such a teacher in your life. If so, then what have they taught you that has stuck with you the most? Feel free to send me your answers by email at [email protected] and we could have a nice chat.