This kind of reminds me of the dojo I go to. Alot of it requires close contact w/ other people both male and female and are people whom you have no bond with. To be able to trust each other as well as your sensei that you won't get hurt, you won't be the fool of all jokes, (which is how it is IRL mind you), and everyone is there to help, work, and learn with each other. But it's amazing to see when people are challenged to face their insecurities and obstacles they quickly freak out and runaway and stop attending. But I digress. Back to the 'Sensei as friend' topic.
The sensei's at the dojo go to, I don't necessarily consider friend but I do have complete trust in them. Granted there are some flaws I need to work on that hinder my progress like self doubt but because I trust and value my sensei's especially the main one. They care that you attend regularly and don't want you to half crap your work outs and make excuses. They want you to put 200% into everything. They compliment you when your doing great, they will guide you when you falter.
And I take pride knowing that he has full faith in everyone especially me because I don't let the fact that I'm the only female get to me like it has done to other women who have chosen to run away instead of stay and work past their insecurities. I take pride knowing that our sensei(s) look out for all of us, especially me. I take pride that they take pride when we accomplish something amazing or even the fact that we showed up today.
I love the dojo I attend. It's like a second family, almost better than my first one
I feel comfortable there and I actually feel free there. Free to be who I am. I haven't had that in a long time.