One of our students, at the 'tender age' of 17, has passed his Shodan exam and been duly promoted to that rank.
It is a non-issue as far as the adult class. He will simply move up a spot in the students line and continue to learn and try to keep pace with a pack of hungry ikkyu coming after him like ravenous wolves... yet I digress.
My question concerns the kids class. We're a small club and we've had a few long-time instructors who have been dropping like flies due to health and infirmity. (Not so much to the great Dojo-in-the-sky as to the brew-pub down the street.)
In order to keep the kid's class running I began pressing some of my better nikyu and ikkyu into service as "Sempai" to help with the little ones. It's been more than successful. I was worried they would resent the extra "work" but they seem to relish the perceived status and have embraced the chance to develop their own teaching and leadership skills.
This particular student has been acting in this role for a couple of years now. Up to now, the "Sempai" have lined up one side, apart from both the Sensei and the students. They are all older teens or young adults, that wouldn't normally be part of the kids class other than to help out.
Should this young man now line up with the Sensei, or stay with the Sempai?
If he was older, I think it wouldn't even occur to me to ask. Most of our instructors that have retired or left were only Shodan or Nidan themselves. It's just he's so young. He's actually younger than the other ikkyu in the club.
To put this in perspective, the kids class is mostly 7 to 12 years old. Grades run from yellow to green-blue at present.
I try to get them to switch to the "adult" class at about age 14 or blue-belt (nikyu).
I would appreciate your thoughts.