Senpai and kohai: One of the strongest elements of dojo instruction is the relationship between juniors and senior students. When i was beginning jiu jitsu I had three senpai, Ricardo Almeida, Matt Serra and Rodrigo Gracie. All three were world champions and all three were wizards on the mat whose every training session was downright inspirational to us juniors. It is natural for any beginning to doubt the effectiveness of the techniques he or she is shown. When you first learn them, they seem difficult and convoluted- impossible to perform on a resisting training partner, let alone an actual fight. More than anything else it is the senpai who create that by providing everyday living proof of the effectiveness of the techniques by using them successfully with and elan upon the juniors and beginners. Nothing builds faith in technique better than having them used upon you in a way that makes you feel helpless. This, more than anything else, creates the belief that it works, that you want to possess it and that if someone else can get to that level, then so can you – the three most important beliefs a beginner needs. When i build a room, I invest heavily in instruction of the class senpai. They will always provide much of the backbone of the training rooms ability to create a tide in which all can rise. Here, Nicky Ryan, outstanding kohai, watches his senpai, Garry Tonon, go through his boxing drills – watching, learning, getting inspired in ways that will boost his own performance tomorrow. Photo @supersaiyanmagicalgirl