Flowers: An Anthology by Shiva

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The Sloppy Students

Sensei Paul and Sensei John smiled as they thought about returning for a visit with their old friend Sensei Tony. It had been over six months since they had last visited his Dojo. It would be most interesting to see how he was coming along. They still remembered the embarrassment and loss of face that Sensei Tony had experienced with their last visit.

The whole episode of their encounter had come up at various times during informal conversations with some of the other students of the Master and even during some of the party conversations with their friends. But, as far as they knew, the Master knew nothing about how far Sensei Tony had slipped.

They pulled into the parking lot and found a space waiting for them. The cars were all parked neatly, even though there were no parking lines.

The Senseis entered the Dojo without paying any attention to the fresh paint on both the outside and inside of the Dojo. They did, however, sense that the Dojo was much cleaner than they remembered. Sensei John's eyes glanced across the entry way and his gaze fell on the trophy case. The trophies of Sensei Tony had recently been polished. No new trophies, just some old ones from a faded past, he thought.

Sensei Tony came out of his office beaming.

"So good to see you again! What an honor!", he beamed as he vigorously shook their hands. "Come on into my office and have some fresh tea I just brewed!"

Tony's office was clean and neat. "He has really cleaned things up around here, but it could use some fresh paint", thought Sensei John as he sat on the comfortable chair and was handed the cup of tea.

"We have been pretty busy since your last visit. But there is still a lot of work to be done before we are ready for a visit from the Master. We are trying to do things in such a way that we would not be embarrassed should he decide to drop in unexpectedly," Sensei Tony gushed.

"Fat chance of the Master coming to this out of the way place and visiting this dumpy Dojo," thought Sensei Paul.

Sensei Tony's face seemed to fall. It was almost as if he had heard Sensei Paul's thought.

After a few minutes of catching up on news, there was a knock on the door.

"Come in!" said Sensei Tony.

Joe's eyes lit up as he recognized the visiting Senseis. "Welcome Sensei Paul, Sensei John", he said as he bowed. "Sensei Tony, the students are ready," he announced as he bowed.

"Thank you, I will be out directly!" "The students are more respectful than when we where here before," thought Sensei John.

As the Senseis entered the main hall they were greeted by the students all lined up perfectly.

"Bow to the Senseis!" Barked Joe.

Everyone bowed as one unit. The lines were straight and only the new students fidgeted and occasionally glanced around.

"Bow to the Master! Prepare for meditation!" Ordered Sensei Tony.

The students all bowed and then meditated for about ten minutes.

Sensei Paul and John both noticed that Sensei Tony was more on-purpose and businesslike than before as he taught and demonstrated various moves. They also noted that the students' sparing was cleaner and crisper than before.

The Sensei then invited Sensei Paul and John to spar with a couple of students.

Sensei Paul chose to spar with Joe. He decided that he would show him a thing or two about martial arts and how a real Black Belt could throw him. He threw Joe with way too much force and Joe landed quite hard. Sensei Tony stopped the demonstration and examined Joe for injury, luckily there was only a large bruise and soreness.

"Your students need more work!", said Sensei Paul. Sensei Tony had a strange almost angry look in his eyes.

"It's about time some of these students around here got a taste of what Martial Arts is all about," Sensei Paul thought to himself as he walked off the mat.

Sensei Tony had everyone sit while he appeared to compose himself. He was clearly disturbed and bewildered. Then, he cleared his throat and was in the middle of announcing that this evening the students were going to test for belt advancement.

Suddenly the Sensei 's face turned white. " On your feet!" he barked. The tone in his voice was such that everyone in the room was instantly on their feet - much to the astonishment of Sensei John and Paul, as they were the last to stand.

Bow to the Master! The students bowed not to the picture on the wall but towards the door! IT WAS THE MASTER!!

As the Master entered the room you could hear a pin drop.

The Master bowed and grinned at the Sensei.

"So it is a night for the testing of belts," He said as he looked at Sensei Tony. His eyes were cold and sparkling. The grin that was on his face as he made this statement sent shivers up and down Sensei Tony. Tony's Students were obviously in awe and scared at the same time.

"Welcome Master," Sensei Tony said in a hushed tone.

"It would be a great honor to me and my Dojo if you would evaluate my students. Perhaps I have advanced them too fast and their rankings need to be adjusted. This would be of great service and honor to us all, should you consent to do so," he continued.

The Master looked around, his eyes finally settling on Sensei Paul and Sensei John. After a long pause, he said "There is much need for improvement around here. I have watched the sparring with my students and yours. Very Sloppy. More about this later. Let us proceed with the testing of the belts."

Each student came forward and performed their katas. The Master would sometimes demand that they go faster, much faster than they had ever gone before. Sometimes, he would ask them to go so slow that it looked like they were going in slow motion, he would even stop them in the middle of a move to observe their balance. Occasionally he would rise and work with an individual. After he evaluated each student, he would announce that individual's belt level.

At the end the Master had all the students sit around the edge of the mat.

"I will now spar with Sensei Tony," he announced.

Sensei Tony was suddenly on his feet. What an honor! He had longed for this moment for years. He realized how much he missed quality time with his Teacher.

Sensei Tony bowed and took a stance. What happened next was too sudden to describe. In the blink of an eye he was on the mat with the Master standing over him laughing. My have you gotten rusty. Sensei Tony once again regained his composure, stood and bowed. The next few minutes were amazing to watch.

It appeared as if the Master were handling Sensei Tony with such ease that some of the students thought that perhaps Sensei Tony was taking a fall deliberately in order to make the Master look good. In fact, Sensei Tony was not holding back at all. To hold back would be a dishonorable act. No, he was definitely giving his best effort. The Master was so accomplished that he made Sensei Tony look slow and clumsy. It was breathtaking to watch Sensei Tony fly across the mat without almost no effort at all from the Master. But, the Master demonstrated such control that Sensei Tony's falls were timed and placed in such a way that no injury took place.

Finally the Master stopped and bowed. Sensei Tony's face was covered with sweat and the look in his eyes was one of gratitude and respect.

Now I will spar with Sensei Paul and Sensei John together!

"It's about time some of these students around here got a taste of what Martial Arts is all about," said the Master looking directly at Sensei Paul.

Both Sensei Paul and John bowed to the Master and assumed their stance.

Once again, the ease with which the Master threw the Senseis was amazing. Finally, in a move that bordered on the unbelievable, Sensei John and Sensei Paul landed in a heap and were all tangled up in each other's arms and legs with a look of astonishment on their faces.

"Control and humility are important. Also is respect and consideration. Over the last few months you have greatly disappointed me Sensei Paul and John. You have become sloppy and judgmental in your approach to this art. You have ridiculed a Teacher to others and lost your sense of respect and honor. I am sorely disappointed in both your attitude and conduct, especially this evening. You may leave now!

Sensei Paul and John untangled themselves and stood to bow. The Master screamed, "Leave!"

They scurried out of the Dojo. Great loss of face.

The Master looked at Sensei Tony's students.

"Martial arts, as I teach it, has no room for bullies or disrespect. I have followed Sensei Tony's progress over the years and especially during the last few months. He still has a lot to learn and improve on. He is not at the Master level yet. He is however, the Sensei of this Dojo and is now approaching this Art with the proper attitude. You are fortunate to have him. Good Luck!"

The Master then turned and left the room.

Everyone stood in silence for a few moments. Something had changed. The mention of the Master would forever take on a whole new meaning as the Sensei talked about him. The bowing to the picture of the Master would take on a whole new meaning.

Finally, the Sensei barked out, "Clean these mats! Clean the Dojo! Everyone participate!" The room erupted into a flurry of activity and purpose.








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