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.
Allan Gill 3rd Dan
Allan began training in 1983 with the Traditional Association of Shotokan Karate under Sensei John Van Weenen, (8th Dan), receiving his 1st Dan in 1994. He went on to train with the Tora Kai Karate Association under Sensei Jeff Nash, (5th Dan), gaining his 2nd Dan in 1998, and his 3rd Dan in 2001. Sensei Nash’s previous career as an instructor in the military encouraged Allan to always look at the application of Karate techniques in real life situations. Allan went on to practise with other associations and styles including the KUGB, JKS and Yui Shin Kai, as well as looking at fighting arts outside of Karate. Since 2003 he has travelled to Japan annually for training in classical Japanese weapons.
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.