Sensei Course Expectations

In this article, we want to cover what to expect when you enroll in the Sei Tensoku Ryu Sensei Course. We hope the article will cover most of the common questions about the course that arise when people consider studying to become a certified instructor.


Our training for those seeking the Sensei Certification is intense and thorough. We want our instructors to know what they are doing and to be fully conversant not only with our curriculum but with the teaching process as well. Teaching is as nuanced and complex as our curriculum. We are ideally searching for someone who can be good at both.

We provide no guarantee that those who complete this course will be awarded a Sensei Certification. There are many other factors and processes involved in acquiring that certification. We may not award certification for many reasons, including any of the following (this is not intended to be a complete list).

  • A bad cultural fit. No hard feelings, but sometimes an individual is not a good fit for our instructional needs.
  • An unwillingness to follow guidelines.
  • An unwillingness to teach the entire Tensoku Ryu curriculum in good faith.
  • An unwillingness to teach or bias against teaching any specific or general category of students.
  • A person who has a history of violence, repeat criminal behavior, abuse, inappropriate sexual behavior, or other behaviors we feel violates our general expectations and high standards for an instructor.
  • Inappropriate demeanor. Individuals who are disproportionately arrogant, belittling, hostile, belligerent, argumentative, condescending, controlling, cruel, abusive, pompous, or generally uncaring seldom make good instructors.
  • Lacking sufficient background, skills, and capabilities. While we are open to certifying teachers who come from other systems and styles, we expect anyone who seeks to receive Sensei certification to be a competent martial artist.
  • An unwillingness to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, tools, and facilities needed to teach in a viable capacity. We see little reason to certify a Sensei who is then unable or unwilling to teach.
  • Failure to complete the entire certification process.

Most people who take this course will receive the Sensei Certification provided they follow the process and are diligent in their studies. The certification process is not a walk in the park, but it is not extraordinarily arduous either. Anyone with appropriate skills, motivation, and attitude can achieve Sensei Certification.

Course Content

The course delves deeply into the curriculum material we teach. It does not cover each kick, strike, and Kata in detail. That information is covered in our Curriculum Courses.

This course instead describes our standards for these curriculum elements. Students will study how we expect students at different ranking levels to perform kicks, Kata, and related skills. These are fundamentals that we expect our Sensei to convey to and require of their students. In some respects, this course is a curriculum standards course.

But it is more than that. We also provide instructors with tools, ideas, requirements, and procedures they should know to teach, manage students, conduct classes, and promote their students.

The course is also a Sensei behavioral guide. We cover how best to motivate students, what typical behaviors we expect of Sensei, and those behaviors we believe Sensei should avoid. We also discuss how we reinforce these behavior practices.

The Course Format

We strive to make the course as complete as possible. While the course is a hurdle that candidates must pass to receive certification, the course is not intended to function in that way. It is intended to convey useful and salient information an individual will need to teach our art. That is always the primary purpose of the course. We wish to educate our Sensei so they can in turn educate and guide their students. So, it is not our intent to make the course arduous or complex beyond reason. We want and expect candidates to pass the course and become viable members of the Sei Tensoku Ryu instructional corps.

The course functions within the same framework as our other courses, including our Curriculum Courses. Students will study textual information provided either within a lesson or within topical articles accessed via links in the lesson. Many lessons also contain links to videos that augment, enhance, or further clarify information found within the lesson text.

There are a few differences between this course and our normal Curriculum Courses. The first major difference is this course does not have section numbers with defined categories as lessons within each section. Instead, sections are more like chapters in a book. The lessons are akin to informative sections within a chapter. We associate all lessons with the section by separating the section and lesson titles with a hyphen. A lesson will appear as SectionTitle-LessonTitle in the lesson selection list that allows the student to reveal the content of one or more lessons.

The second major difference with this course is that it does not contain quizzes. All questions are reserved for the Sensei Examination that candidates take after the course. This means a student cannot skim a lesson and then rely on a quiz to point out things he or she has overlooked. To pass the examination (which is designed to be comprehensive but not overly difficult) you must study the content of this course.

Perhaps the most significant difference is this course does not have an associated Curriculum Card. The Curriculum Card serves to reflect the status of progress through a Curriculum Course and to ensure instruction occurs in a somewhat logical order. The Curriculum Card serves as a metering device, allowing the introduction of new material in an order and at a rate that will most benefit the student. Courses other than Curriculum Courses do not have such a metering device. The only meters are the student’s self-study pace and the instructor’s guidance and teaching strategy.

Your Sponsor

You will have a sponsor while taking the course. In most situations, this will be the instructor you select when purchasing the course. The sponsor’s role is to offer guidance and encouragement and to answer questions that arise as you study the course.

Your sponsor, who is familiar with this training process, will work with you to ensure you do not overlook important concepts, practices, and skills incorporated into the course. This person will also do his or her best to keep you on track so you finish the course promptly and with the knowledge that you will need to pass the Sensei Examination.

Students Unfamiliar with Tensoku Ryu

The Sei Tensoku Ryu understands and appreciates that there are many qualified and experienced martial arts instructors who can bring their knowledge and experiences into our system and provide fresh perspectives for the Sei Tensoku Ryu community. We welcome that fresh infusion of ideas, knowledge, and skills and actively encourage these instructors to join us.

Most instructors who have earned several belts in Tensoku Ryu have been fully immersed in our culture, training practices, philosophies, and skillsets for many years. In many ways, this makes it easier for them to become certified instructors. That does not mean the path to a Sensei Certification is extraordinarily difficult for a non-Tensoku Ryu practitioner.

Much of this course is intended to convey and reinforce the very information that Tensoku Ryu students get simply by attending classes for several years. We provide the same information for every instructor candidate so that everyone has the same foundational information when they begin teaching.

There will be one major difference between Tensoku Ryu practitioners and practitioners from other systems once certification is achieved. The difference is familiarity with our system, our specific skills, and our methodologies. This information is required for anyone wishing to teach our art.

Therefore, a Tensoku Ryu practitioner with several years of experience in our art may begin teaching upon receipt of his or her certificate. A non-Tensoku Ryu practitioner must undergo appropriate curriculum training before he or she can teach. However, since we are ideally recruiting experienced martial artist instructors we do not expect these practitioners to achieve a high rank in our system before they can start teaching. We will cover what courses each instructor can teach within a dedicated lesson in the course.

Practitioners who have not previously studied Tensoku Ryu will receive a sponsor from the Sei Tensoku Ryu. A Sei Tensoku Ryu sponsor is a senior organization official with a deep understanding of our art and our instructional requirements. Sei Tensoku Ryu sponsors are also appreciative of the time, effort, and study a senior practitioner from another system had to expend to achieve an advanced rank and/or instructor status. The sponsor’s role is to guide senior practitioners from other styles so these experienced individuals quickly become effective members and instructors in the Sei Tensoku Ryu system.

Studying the Course

There is nothing in this course to prevent a student from randomly selecting a lesson to view. This might be useful if something sparks your interest. Selecting any lesson can help satisfy your curiosity and answer an immediate question. But it may not prove to be the most useful way to study the course content.

Since this course (and others like it) does not have an associated Curriculum Card it can be hard to recall what lessons you have studied. We provide a lesson-order number adjacent to each lesson title in the lesson selection bar. This can serve as another means to help you remember where you left off in your previous study session. It is also the preferred order in which you should study the lessons. Feel free to jump around if something sparks your interest, but try to return where you left off so you can proceed through the course in its prescribed order.

How you track your progress through the course is up to you. Keep a note of the lesson where you left off, track each lesson you study in a log, make notes about each lesson you study, or just wing it. The process is entirely yours. Your sponsor may be able to offer some additional advice or convey the methods he or she used.

Be sure to read all of the lesson text and any topical articles in a lesson. Also, make sure you watch any of the associated videos. All of the information in a lesson is relevant and will help you study the course, pass the exam, or more importantly, be a well-informed and competent Tensoiku Ryu Sensei.

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