In Japan, the senpai-kohai system underlies nearly all relationships. Although there is no exact translation into English, senpai (先輩) means an upperclassman, senior employee or other older person with whom you have dealings. Conversely, kohai (後輩) is the junior or lower person. Who is senpai and who is kohai is determined by age and rank, which in Japan are often the same thing. This system permeates Japanese society. Within the club it is the formal recognition of the seniority, experience, dedication to the club and teaching capability of those "senior" students we call Senpai. We lean on them to support the club and undertake occasional teaching duties. They are important roles in fostering the senpai-kohai relationship and should be seen as a go to resource.
Tony Smith 1st Dan
Tony started practising Shotokan karate as a nine year old with Seishinkai International, under Sensei Malcolm Phipps in Hertfordshire. After three years, other interests took precedence and he did not continue his studies until some 24 years later; something that is lasting regret. During three years with Go Kan Ryu, Tony practised a mix of Shotokan and Goju Ryu. Quickly becoming a Senpai within the organisation, he enjoyed the benefits of training with the senior students and instructors. The pinnacle with GKR was becoming the 2013 National Champion in both kumite and kata in the 6th – 4th kyu grade category. Wanting to focus purely on Shotokan, Tony started with SKKIF at Kyomeikai dojo in 2015 and attained Shodan (1st Dan) in 2017 under Kancho Kanzazawa. He enjoys the many and varied aspects of karate practice but focuses greatest effort in the study of kata and it’s associated bunkai (practical application). He is passionate about the principles of ‘Shin Gi Tai’, developing the mind as well as one’s technique and body, and if not physically practicing karate, he will have his head in a book or on the internet, studying the art in depth.