Leadership Exploration and Development
“Mentoring tomorrow’s leaders, today.”


SMAC’s Instructor and Leadership program started in 1976 when the school originated under the name of Arizona Wado Karate.  Over the years, it has been enhanced from simple Senpai instruction (explanation below) to a comprehensive instructor and leadership development program.  Traditional martial arts skills are a priority, but leadership skill development is equally important.  We teach all SMAC students Leadership skills.  However, we offer this program to those who want to take their leadership skills to the highest level.  Below is the description of this program.



The term Senpai refers to a higher rank or age member in a Japanese Martial Art school who offers assistance, friendship, and counsel to new or inexperienced members.  This position goes back to the beginning of time in Japanese culture and is a position of honor.  It is a complicated position that we have simplified for our school.

In our school, we use this term generally for brown belts who assist in instruction in lower rank classes.  Students below the rank of brown belt who help in classes under their rank are called assistants or instructor apprentices.

Brown belts are strongly encouraged to Senpai to enhance their comprehension of karate techniques.  A deep understanding of karate knowledge cannot be fully developed by merely being a student. Teaching gives the brown belt a different understanding of technical development.  This complete understanding is required to pass the black belt exam.

Senpai is a volunteer position and must have the approval of the Chief Instructor. Those of lower rank who wish to assist in classes must also get the Chief Instructor’s consent.

LEAD Program (Leadership Exploration and Development)

We offer our LEAD program to those students (primarily youth) who wish to maximize their leadership skills.  This program is broken down into three instructor levels; instructor apprentice, instructor assistant, and elite instructor.  There is a monthly program fee, and some participants can receive a stipend for their instruction.

Leadership skills are developed through discussion and mentorship when complex managing situations occur in real-time.  These situations include conflict resolution, choosing proper diction in hierarchal encounters with senior instructors and subordinates, motivational challenges, and other complicated leadership skill challenges.  Generally, this is discussed in front of the class, exposing those students to the complicated nuances of leadership development.  This exposure to these classroom students helps start the development of their leadership skill foundation while also serving as motivation to consider future leadership growth exploration.

All instruction is exceptionally positive with the added touch of humor. All LEAD instructors are encouraged not to fear mistakes.  It is better to make mistakes being assertive than being tentatively correct.  There will be errors when learning to lead.  We need to have fun learning from our stumbles.


Instructor Apprentice

The first level of our LEAD program is Instructor Apprentice. There is a minimum age of 9 and the rank of green, though there can be exceptions.

Apprentices are slowly mentored by first observing, then moving to one on one instruction, leading class in basics, etc.  They are mentored during class in general leadership strategies and guided through real-life leadership situations as they occur.

The apprentice must commit to at least one class a week and maintain their regular karate training.  They wear red uniform tops which they purchase.

This position must be applied for by the student with the parent’s support and consent. There is a monthly program investment of $40 and there is no stipend at this level.

Instructor Assistant

Instructor Assistants are generally brown belts and new teen black belts. These assistants have the skill to open and close a class, lead basics, teach large student numbers, and can articulate difficult technical knowledge to the students.  An Instructor Assistant is very close to Elite instructor status.  They wear black uniform tops which they purchase.

This position must be applied for by the student and have the parent’s approval and consent.  There is a monthly investment for this program. There can be a stipend for those who qualify and teach a least one two-hour block. See Sensei Hughes for details.

Elite Instructor

Elite Instructors are black belts who have the teaching skills to teach at the highest level.  They have an excellent grasp of conflict resolution, motivation, education, philosophy, and other instructional skills.

Generally, Elite Instructors do not pay monthly tuition and receive a stipend if they teach a minimum of a 2-hour class block.  They get their higher martial art instruction for free.  See Sensei Hughes for details.