Teaching understanding
"I don't like anymore it when Senpai teaches," my daughter announced on the way home from karate. "Why is that?" I answered, although I already knew.

After a nine month break from karate, Senpai was different. He never has been quite as patient as Sensei, showing his frustration more with the children. But it was the sort of frustration coming from a man who doesn't seem to really want to enforce the discipline. A sort of overcompensation of strictness and fear of losing control if he let the children know how much he liked them.

But they knew and my daughter knew.

That seems to be gone now, replaced by a more general frustration. The kind where you wonder if he really wants to be there with the children. Except there is more going on and I wasn't sure exactly what to say to my daughter as she noted how little patience he seemed to have and how they kept doing the same drills over and over.

After being gone so long, however, some things are more noticeable than they are when you watch the changes slowly over time. So I slowly began to ask my daughter what other things she's noticed. She looked at me confused until I pointed out how much his hand shakes and how he holds it either behind him or steadies it with his other hand.

Then she recalled him making a stance and letting his hand just fall to his side. She remembered how he used to show them things but now just told them to do exercises they already knew, and corrected them as they made mistakes. I saw it begin to dawn on her that perhaps he was unable to do everything he used to do. He walks a little differently. It isn't quite a limp and is barely perceptible, but he isn't pulling both legs quite the same way, especially when he turns.

And then, of course, my daughter wanted to know why. I could guess, but don't really know. So instead I asked her how she would feel if she felt herself gradually losing control over her body. She didn't say much, but she seemed to be gaining a little understanding. Perhaps, she reasoned, Senpai isn't frustrated with them at all but what is happening inside him.

Then she just looked out the window. She hasn't brought it up since, but I'm hoping with the flicker of insight will come a little more compassion and patience on her part.