Jennyfer sempai – you live on…

Jennyfer sempai is no more…

My first karate class was with Praveen sempai. My second, was was Jennyfer sempai. That was 30 years ago.

You always remember your first instructors. They help you through, when you have no clue what you are doing, but when you are eager to know more. A good instructor shows you how to perform the kata.

A great instructor inspires you to perform the kata. Jenny sempai inspired me to perform my first katas.

I remember a rainy evening, a day before the grading test, must have been around 7ish…

Me and my brother stopped by the karate school. I was a white junior belt, and I wanted a double promotion. That was the gold standard of performing well in the grading, and you also saved 3-4 months by skipping a belt.

And so I stopped by that evening, to ask what I needed to do to achieve that double promotion.

Jenny sempai met me briefly, and when I told her what I had in mind, she said – try your best. And if it has to happen, it will.

I thanked her and rode away on my cycle, thinking that the job was done. After all, a few karatekas got double promotion, but I was good, and so ‘deserved’ it. Now that I had brought it to her notice, she would surely get it done for me.

The grading went well. The results came in a few days.

I got promoted. But to white senior. Not to blue belt. No double promotion.

I was angry. Why didn’t I get one? I did well, and the ones who got it didn’t deserve it as much as me, I thought.

Jenny sempai didn’t do it on purpose, I thought to myself. In spite of me requesting her. And I stayed angry for quite a while.

It’s been around 30 years. I still practice Karate. I am a Shihan, a senior black belt. Those who got the double promotions, dropped out long long back, and most of them didn’t even make it to black.

Try your best, she had said. I thought I did, but I was wrong. I didn’t deserve it then, and if I had got the double promotion, a false sense of achievement would have set in, and I am sure that I would never have gotten this far.

And so when I hear of her passing today, I don’t have a tear in my eye. I feel sad yes, but also a sense of hope that she is in a better place.

She didn’t die today, no…not at all.

She just went on to another part of her journey, one that she has to undertake alone.

But she lives on. In the thoughts of thousands of Kyokushin karate students…and she lives on, in every kata that I practice. She lives on, and so I don’t mourn her. I celebrate her, and pray that she finds peace, and eternal rest.

Thank you Jennyfer sempai, for giving us a part of your learning.

Om Shanti 🙏