The Teacher and Student Relationship

By Grandmaster Kim Soo

The student can learn karate from his teacher, and at the same time the student can learn a lot about life.  The student should try and listen to the lessons his teacher shares, but the student needs to understand he must find his own path to enlightenment.  Trying to copy his teacher too much, trying to walk/talk/live/do karate/think/etc. exactly like his teacher, can only lead to the student either repeating his teacher’s mistakes, or becoming heartbroken when he realizes his teacher isn’t perfect.

It is like a finger pointing at a beautiful sunset.  The teacher is the finger – not the beautiful sun. The sunset is the principle, and that is what the student should try and see. To only look at the finger means the student will miss the best part.

The teacher can teach karate to his students, and at the same time the teacher can continue to learn as well.  Just as the student should not copy the teacher, the teacher must be able to allow the student to grow and understand in his own way. The student can only find enlightenment by following his own path.  If the teacher focuses on teaching and learning the principles, then his goals are pure and he never feels lonely.  If the teacher focuses too much on controlling the student, then the teacher limits his student’s growth and he risks being hurt and feeling lonely when it is time for the student to seek their own understanding.

It is like a student looking at his teacher pointing to a beautiful sunset.  The teacher needs to let the student turn his head and look at the beauty of the sun when he is ready, and the teacher should not feel hurt or lonely when the student is no longer looking at his teacher.  If looking at the beauty of the sunset is the goal, then the teacher must let his student look away and see for himself.  Then the teacher can look back at the sun again and they can enjoy it together.  If the teacher continues to look at the student, the teacher will also be missing the best part.