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Titles And Slippers

This is a story.

A man traveled to Okinawa to learn from a great master. When he arrived at the dojo (high up a mountain, of course), he took off his slippers and entered a reception room where he was greeted by one of the master's students.

"Please tell the master that John Doe, hanshi, tenth dan, president of the Blah Blah World Association, and ten time world champion has come to learn from him!"

The attendant bowed and went into the dojo. He returned a minute later. "Sorry," he said, my master said that he cannot see anyone who is wearing slippers in the dojo. Please come back tomorrow."

The next day, the man returned, took of his slippers and said, "Please tell the master that John Doe, hanshi, tenth dan, and president of the Blah Blah World Association has come to learn from him!"

Shortly, the attendant returned with the same answer.

The next day, the man returned, took of his slippers and said, "Please tell the master that John Doe, hanshi, and tenth dan has come to learn from him!"

Again, the attendant returned with the same answer.

The next day, the man returned, took of his slippers and said, "Please tell the master that John Doe, hanshi has come to learn from him!"

Same response.

The next day, the man returned, took of his slippers and said, "Please tell the master that John Doe has come to learn from him... please."

The master soon entered the room.

"Master, I have come thousands of miles to learn from you!" shouted the man.

"First, don't call me master. I'm just a Karate student. And lesson one is this -- leave your titles in your slippers. Neither belong in the dojo."

Of course, this is just a story. In real life, the man would have probably left the first day and sought out another "master" who would have flattered him (and perhaps even given him another title). It is very difficult for people to let go of titles and impossible for them to learn until they do so.

If you ever visit a sensei to learn, don't mention any titles or similar things unless you are directly asked (and then do so only reluctantly). If you do mention titles (without being asked), the sensei will probably think, "How can I teach someone who already thinks that he knows everything?"

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin