UPDATED ON 08/05/2024
How to Tell Your Sensei You Don't Want to Teach

How to Tell Your Sensei You Don’t Want to Teach

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Karate is more than just a hobby; it’s a passion, a discipline, and for many, a way of life. As an autistic individual with a deep love for karate, you’ve undoubtedly found joy in mentoring and sharing your knowledge one-on-one. However, the idea of stepping into a teaching role, especially one that involves handling multiple students at once, can be daunting. If your sensei is nudging you towards teaching training and you feel overwhelmed, it’s crucial to communicate your boundaries effectively. Here’s how to approach this sensitive conversation.

Understanding Your Feelings

First and foremost, it’s important to recognize and validate your own feelings. Wanting to avoid teaching doesn’t make you lazy or ungrateful. Each person has their strengths and comfort zones. For someone who finds social situations exhausting and overwhelming, teaching a class can be incredibly taxing. Acknowledging your limits is not a sign of weakness but of self-awareness and self-care.

Preparing for the Conversation

  1. Reflect on Your Reasons: Clearly articulate why teaching a class is challenging for you. Is it the sensory overload from a noisy room? The anxiety from being the center of attention? The exhaustion from having to manage multiple tasks at once? Understanding and pinpointing your specific challenges will help you convey your message more effectively.
  2. Plan Your Points: Make a list of key points you want to discuss with your sensei. This will help you stay focused during the conversation and ensure you don’t forget any important details.
  3. Choose the Right Time: Find a quiet moment after class or schedule a meeting with your sensei when you can talk without interruptions.

The Conversation

  1. Be Honest and Direct: Start by expressing your appreciation for your sensei’s guidance and support. Then, explain your situation honestly.

    For example:

    Sensei, I really appreciate how much you believe in me and your support in my karate journey. I wanted to talk to you about the possibility of teaching. I find that leading warmups and managing multiple students at once is very challenging for me, and it can be overwhelming due to my sensory sensitivities and anxiety. I worry that taking on a full teaching role might be more than I can handle right now.”
  2. Explain Your Challenges: Provide specific examples of what makes teaching difficult for you. This could be sensory overload, difficulty hearing in noisy environments, or the mental exhaustion that follows leading group activities.
  3. Offer Alternatives: Suggest ways you can still contribute without taking on a teaching role. You might offer to continue mentoring one-on-one, helping to plan warmups without leading them, or assisting in other capacities that align with your strengths.

Potential Outcomes and Responses

  1. Understanding and Support: Your sensei might be understanding and willing to accommodate your needs. They might suggest alternative ways for you to contribute or modify their expectations based on your conversation.
  2. Compromise: Your sensei might propose a gradual approach, allowing you to build up your comfort and skills at a manageable pace. This could involve starting with small groups or shorter teaching sessions.
  3. Further Discussion: In some cases, your sensei might not immediately understand your perspective. Be prepared to have ongoing discussions and possibly seek support from other instructors or fellow students who understand your situation.

Taking Care of Yourself

Regardless of the outcome, it’s essential to prioritize your well-being. Teaching is a significant responsibility, and if it’s not something you’re comfortable with, it’s okay to say no. Remember, your primary goal in karate is personal growth and enjoyment, not to meet others’ expectations at the expense of your own health.


Communicating your boundaries to your sensei is a crucial step in maintaining your well-being while continuing to enjoy karate. By being honest, direct, and prepared, you can express your needs effectively and find a solution that works for both you and your dojo. Remember, knowing your limits and advocating for yourself is a sign of strength, not weakness.

If you’re looking for a dojo that understands and respects individual needs, consider HAITO Karate. We offer excellent Kyokushin classes in Peterborough, providing a supportive and inclusive environment for all students. Visit HAITO Karate to learn more and join a community that values personal growth and well-being.

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