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09-20-2006, 01:34 PM
I once used an animated gif of O-Sensei as my avatar in a forum I use to frequent. The sensei at a dojo I was attending told me that the Japanese would find that very disrespectful.
What do you think?

09-20-2006, 01:57 PM
You don't live in Japan, who cares. The Japanese find alot of things offensive. (as do most cultures...better put that caveat in before the hippies start crying). If it is your own regular instructor and HE is offended, then you have to balance your desire for the avatar against your respect for him. Otherwise tell the other sensei to take a flying leap. You pay him to teach you aikido. Nothing Else.

Jorge Garcia
09-20-2006, 02:21 PM
"Otherwise tell the other sensei to take a flying leap. You pay him to teach you aikido. Nothing Else."
This was a pretty individualistic post. The attitude not that great and really not well thought out. The relationship between a Sensei and a student is a bit more intertwined than what the sentence in the quote expresses. If I felt that way about my Sensei, I wouldn't even train with him at all. That he "is paid just to teach me Aikido" is way below my standard. I have to respect my own Sensei and that means listening to him and considering what he has to say. If I can't give him that much respect., I don't belong there at all.

09-20-2006, 02:45 PM
You obviously didn't read what I wrote. I said that if this was his regular sensei, who he had a relationship with, then HE would have to consider his relationship with him. But sometimes there are visiting instructors who may not deserve respect. Sometimes people who are in position of power seek to dominate others and intimidate others by mere rank and without any real reason.

And I did think my post out. I am not passive agressive like alot of people here. If you have something to say, then you should say it. If he enjoys his school and respects the sensei who gave him the advice, then he should not use the avatar. If he want only to train in aikido to learn aikido and does not care what the sensei thinks, then he should keep the avatar.

Please do not be so literal. He does not actually have to confront the sensei and say "Look I am keeping my avatar, go jump of a bridge." He can merely just not bring up the subject anymore (why it came up in the first place is questionable)

Not all people buy into the master/student, (fill in own comparison), relationship. The short time I did aikido there were a few sensei, some I had great respect for, others, not so much

09-20-2006, 03:48 PM
Perhaps I should clarify my situation to enhance the discussion.
I earned the rank of shodan while studying under Iwao Yamaguchi Sensei of Okinawa Aikikai. Soon after receiving shodan I returned to the United States. I have moved several times after returning and consequently have bounced from dojo to dojo. Due to a lack of aikido in my neck of the woods I decided to open a dojo. I wanted to affliliate my dojo with an Aikikai accredited dojo so that my students could test for rank. So I went to the nearest affiliated dojo and paid my membership fees, which I thought necessary to affiliate. Well, that money went to the wind as I never saw anything as a result and I'm not sure how it was supposed to work anyway as I was already "affiliated" with the Aikikai organisation. Anyway, the sensei took my money, I bought his old mats for my dojo and I began training at his dojo.
Now, for the background on the avatar incident. I was a member of a local community forum that I like to refer to as a "redneck" forum due to the overwhelming number of racists and rednecks that populate the forum, thanks to the idiots that moderate the forum. I proceeded to shake things up a bit in the forum and one particularly vile individual found out where I was studying aikido at and sent the sensei an email that was full of lies. As a result the sensei took me aside after class and told me that while he hadn't had the time to review my posts personally, his assistant, a twenty something year old college student, had reviewed my posts. He told me that the avatar was offensive and asked me to write a letter of apology to this anonymous person. I was not allowed to see the original email that was sent to him. At this point I had to decide what kind of relationship we had. The only frame of reference I had was Iwao Yamaguchi Sensei, whom I admire greatly and whom I consider to be my only sensei. I decided to end my "affiliation" with this sensei, although I still train at his dojo on occasion.
So I am now a ronin. :D

Gernot Hassenpflug
09-20-2006, 06:25 PM
Dudes, this thread r0cK5! I haven't laughed like this since the incident with the breast implants -- ah, sorry, wrong forum....

It's clear that people's individual beliefs and cultural backgrounds mold the way they learn, practice and teach Aikido. So a general answer to non-mechanical (technical) issues is probably not going to convinve everybody. Nevertheless, sometimes misconceptions about Japan create unnecessary traditions. Traditions without understanding are no better than practice without understanding.

In Japan, an avatar of O-Sensei is not considered offensive, though the use of avatar material may be circumscribed by moderators of a particular forum, as is their privilege. Where this misconception perhaps derives from is that the kamidana (shrine at the head of the dojo) is sacred, and treated accordingly. This is NOT associated with O-Sensei, but is a general Japanese Shinto tradition. The photograph of O-Sensei is placed there because O-Sensei is the ancestor of aikidodoka the world over, and parents' photographs are commonly put on the kamidana since it is the place of greatest respect in a Japanese house. I would think it appropriate if the previous and current doshu's photos too were displayed there in the same tradition.

The other misconception, which really hinders learning, is that a sensei is a teacher. That is not in fact the case. A sensei does not teach in the Western sense, and I would hesitate to equate the two. I would rather state that for me, good sensei are teachers in addition to being sensei. What is most important, in the craftman tradition, is that the sensei have some skill, whether he teaches that is a different story entirely. It is certainly not a requirement for a sensei to teach in order for a student or kohai to learn. In such circumstances the majority of students may well be mediocre, but a craftsman's goal was never to mass-produce good followers.

Forum members with far better credentials than I in these matters could contribute more and correct any errors I may be perpetuating myself.

09-21-2006, 04:50 AM
I use a photo of O'Sensei reading as my avatar, here and on other boards. This is because I am an avid reader, and collector of Aikido books. I do not feel that this is disrespectful. Quite the contrary. O'Sensei was a prolific reader, and maintained a large library. For me, the avatar just seemed to fit, and I have not heard any complaints. I think the context of your photo would determine whether any offense would be taken.

09-21-2006, 05:15 AM
Here (http://www.aikidofaq.com/bilder/gif89/osenseif.gif.html) is the animated gif.

09-21-2006, 05:53 AM
I use animated GIFs as background on my computer screen so that I can study the technique as I am working at my computer. Currently I have Gyakugamae Ate running.

09-21-2006, 06:35 AM

When you said that someone might think the avatar was offensive, I thought it would be something goofy like eyes popping out, or O'Sensei doing something...er...not appropriate. If someone is offended by this I think that is their problem. Again, this doesn't mean that you should go around intentionally annoying people (I guess I have to be very clear for the peanut gallery)

I agree with Gernot that there are alot of misconceptions about cultures. We can only guess what another culture is like if we are not fully conditioned in that society. Alot of japanophiles like to mysticize and create these great tales about japan (just like many do about paris, exotic places.)

Since O'Sensei is dead and he never had a profile on aikiweb or any other online forum, I think trying to guess what O'Sensei would feel or believe on this issue is rather wasteful.

09-21-2006, 07:06 AM
The only thing I can see that might be wrong with it is that at 290K it might break some forum rules about filesize of avatars. Other than that I can't see it being any more offensive than showing someone the 'Founder of Aikido' DVD.

Guilty Spark
09-21-2006, 07:08 AM
Ricky, there are people out there who will find the picture of your American flag offensive, can't please everyone.

If you like it and it has significant meaning to you then use it and if someone calls you on it stand your ground.

chris w
09-21-2006, 08:46 AM
i hope my avatar doesnt offend anyone :p

Roman Kremianski
09-21-2006, 09:07 AM
I don't see what's offensive about the O-Sensei avatar. A good tribute.

The only thing I find offensive about it is that it's 280kb. Don't even think about using it. :p

09-21-2006, 09:12 AM
i hope my avatar doesnt offend anyone :p
Thanks for the laugh Chris.