One of the things that I’ve been noticing in martial arts classes the last number of years is an increase of what I call “lap dog syndrome.” This is where a (ever-larger, it seems) number of people will hang around at the front of the class where Sensei watches people train between teaching techniques. When Sensei has stopped the class to teach, what you see behind him is a line of people standing there with their arms folded like a line of Stormtroopers. There is so much posing and posturing, people laughing at Sensei’s jokes before they are translated when their knowledge of Japanese is nowhere near close enough to understand what he just said. People “guarding the front of the line” when Sensei is doing calligraphy for people in the class. The new Vanguard. They don’t seem to realize that there never used to be one, so we can probably do without one now as well. But to be a conduit to Sensei is a position of power.