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01-08-2003, 12:04 PM
Do you call your teacher "sensei" outside of the dojo? If so, is this normal for your dojo?

The reason I'm starting this thread is down to Eric's call me sensei thread, so blame him.

Following Jun's gentle "stick to the point of the thread" I wanted to respond to the following from Chris

"If you had to opportunity to meet O Sensei today how would you address him??? Nice to meet you Mr. Morihei? Hows it goin Ueshiba?

The title of Sensei has its' place and should be used and applied with common sense to show respect to someone who teaches you. If I run into my instructor in town I don't address him with "hey Dom" I simply say good afternoon Sensei, no big deal, just basic stuff."

Nope, just can't get this one myself. Outside of the dojo I call people by their given name. Depending on how formal our relationship is this may or may not have that country's normal honorific. So, yes, I would say Mr. Morihei if we’d ever met in normal life (and I could stop stammering/giggling inanely etc.). However, I have heard sensei used outside the dojo and I find this slightly disturbing as there is more of an emphasis on the word sensei outside of Japan and it isn’t a common-use appellation. Using this term outside of a dojo context seems to imply the recognition of another person’s superiority to yourself that is to be carried into all areas of life, not just the dojo (shudder).

OK, had my say, have fun pointing out my obvious flaws of logic...

01-08-2003, 12:22 PM
Hmnn, well, I call my primary teacher "sensei" out of the dojo too. He is Japanese, and maybe that is part of it; maybe it is partly as the norm from the dojo I was brought up in. I certainly address Yamada Sensei as Sensei, as well as Chiba Sensei, Kanai Sensei, and Shibata Sensei.

Folks who are more contemporary to me I generally call by their names outside the dojo (not in the dojo), but then again, they are hardly that senior.

The harder one for me is the sensei who are Western and in the 5th, 6th and 7th dan range and seem casual. My inclination is to call them sensei too, both in and outside of the dojo. Sometimes I get corrected and asked to call them by their given names, but I would prefer to err on the side of formality rather than be too casual.

Anyone else?

01-08-2003, 12:40 PM
When I first met Sosa Sensei, he asked me to call him Bill. I just could not do it. Not even in private when it was just he and I at his house. In my eyes he had my respect and deserved to be called sensei.

And everyone except his wife called him Sensei anyway. :)

I have met people of similar rank that I didn't feel the inclination to call sensei.

I guess for me it's the impression and energy I get from the person. Regardless of ethnicity.

The good thing is there are very few high ranking aikidoka that I don't have respect for.

01-08-2003, 12:57 PM
ooh, I hope I wasn't being ethnocentric, didn't mean that! I meant it in terms of the casualness that is so often there....oops!

01-08-2003, 01:46 PM
I've always referred to my instructor's as sensei ______ or shihan______. The kids in my children's class call me sensei in and out of the dojo, for them it's entirely out of respect.

Tim Harley
01-08-2003, 02:41 PM
I don't think I use the title Sensei other than in class or in being descriptive. That's not to be disrespectful. I've never called a teacher of anything, "Teacher". But I call them Mr. or Ms. accordingly. In the Dojo, I don't often ask for anything. I use proper etiquette when bowing and entering or leaving the mat and use “Domo Arigato Gozaimashita.” or “Thank you very much, Sensei.”

Something for me to think about.


01-08-2003, 03:14 PM
I personally call my Sensei by her given name outside the dojo; the same holds true for the senseis of other dojos whom I consider to be personal friends. This is part a reflection of familiarity, and also of rank, I think; if I were ever fortunate enough to be a member of a dojo run by - for instance - Chin or Kashewaya Senseis, I would refer to them by their title. Just my own personal way, I think. :)

01-08-2003, 04:03 PM
I call my teacher sensei when it is aikido or dojo related. At other occasions, like in the pub or on the street, I call him by his given name.

Of course it gets complicated when we start talking about aikido in the pub.

Karen Wolek
01-08-2003, 05:45 PM
I think that I would feel funny calling my sensei anything BUT sensei. But I don't really see him outside of the dojo and anytime I talk to him, it is "aikido-related", so not much opportunity there! ;).....and I just started Aikido three months ago. So maybe once I know him for awhile, it might be easier to call him by his first name. I don't know! Good question, though!

01-08-2003, 06:57 PM
At first, during the first year I believe, I called my Sensei by his given name. The strange thing is over the years I have quite a respect for him that I and my fellow students call him Sensei on and off the matts.

This is not true however for other yudanshas. Not that I disrespect them. I call them by their given name if their about my age group and call them sirs if they have quite an age difference with myself.

I call my Sensei "Sensei" not because I have to, it's because I want to, it's because I respect him as a teacher. The same as I repect a lecturer or a teacher in and outside the classroom. I also call people "Sensei" for those who has earned that respect, not because of the color of their belt.

01-08-2003, 06:58 PM
I had basketball and golf coaches in high school. I always called them "Coach ..." whether I was on the court or course, or in school. I almost always call my sensei "Sensei" unless I get a vibe that they'd rather me call them by their name instead. So, I see very little difference between "Coach Smith" or "Coach" and "Smith Sensei" or "Sensei."


01-08-2003, 11:48 PM
For me, it's cultural as I'm Japanese and have that culture integrated into my life.

My current teacher is Japanese. I call him "sensei" when I speak to him directly and also when I speak about him to others. This occurs both off and on the mat. (Eg "Sensei, did you want to catch a bite to eat after class?" Now, if I weren't involved in aikido at all and he were just your average run-of-the-mill guy, I'd probably still call him by his last name and "san" as that's natural and polite in the Japanese language/culture (as he's older than I am and, hence, "higher" on the hierarchical societal structure).

As it stands, I pretty much call all Japanese aikido teachers "sensei" both on and off the mat, even if I'd never trained with that person in my life. It's just natural to me. I'd feel like I were slighting the person by not using "sensei." It just feels, well, incorrect almost at a biological level or something if I started referring to them as "Yamada," "Chiba," and such.

Usually in Japanese culture, only people who are at about the same hierarchical level call others by their last name without "san" or such, and even that after some acquaintance. When I was doing research in Japan during college, folks in the undergratuate section called me "Akiyama san" while the doctoral candidates and such called me "Akiyama kun." If, say, I had been classmates with one of them for a while, they might have called me "Akiyama."

Now, non-Japanese aikido teachers I'll usually address by their first name but use "sensei" on the mat (eg "Mary sensei," "John sensei") but just by their first name off the mat. Even our 6th dan senior student here I'll just call by his first name off the mat. Some folks, though, I'll say have earned my respect and the whole Japanese cultural hierarchical thing kicks in; I do call some Western aikido teachers (most with thirty to forty years of experience) "sensei" too...

But, when I'm speaking of teachers in the third person to folks who may not know them personally, especially to folks who may hold the teacher in high regard, I'll usually use "sensei" in that context to be polite.

Hope that didn't muddy up the waters too much.

-- Jun

01-09-2003, 12:34 AM

Do you mean that Japanese teachers deserve more respect than non-Japanese? And that non-Japanese should have at least 30-40 years experience before they deserve this title off the mats?

01-09-2003, 01:57 AM

Do you mean that Japanese teachers deserve more respect than non-Japanese? And that non-Japanese should have at least 30-40 years experience before they deserve this title off the mats?
I'm not answering for Jun, but I don't think that's quite how he meant it. I was/ am going to write something similar.

Here in the UK, I have always called everyone at the dojo by their first name on and off the mat, that includes visiting sensei. This is not done out of disrespect, it's just the culture in our dojo.

When I was living in Japan, Sensei was always referred to as Sensei, both on and off the mat. There were in fact more than one in our association, so we usually referred to them as "surname" sensei. I don't recall anyone being called shihan (except during announcements at the All Japan Embutaikai), the only other title I heard (apart from Doshu) was kaicho, and that was reserved for the founder of our association, he is usually referred to as Kaicho, although sensei is equally acceptable.

Going back to what Jun was saying, my take on it is that it is a cultural thing mixed with personal comfort. I feel quite happy referring to a Japanese sensei as "sensei", however, despite the fact that we are studying a Japanese art, I don't always feel comfortable referring to a wester sensei as such. That's not to say that it doesn't slip out from time to time, I just avoid using the term back home if possible.

01-09-2003, 02:29 AM
Unfair! I was expecting to get lambasted to the 13th generation, instead you've confounded me by reasoned argument. As far as I can see, most agree that the use of the "sensei" honorific in non-dojo situations seems to be determined by a combination of familiarity and/or cultural imperatives. This seems emminently reasonable. However, I still find myself unhappy with the thought of using the term outside the dojo, but I'll put that down to my own background and culture.

What I'm now curious about is how people who are actually referred to as sensei by the students outside the dojo feel about their students doing this? The only time I ever experienced this (a more incorrect use of the term I can't imagine I hasten to add) I felt only acute embarressment.

01-09-2003, 03:28 AM
In Germany, I call my teacher by his first name, and here in Singapore, I call him/her first name + "Sensei".

If I called my German teacher "Sensei", he'd be a little bit surprised (no one does this), and I think it would be the same for my Singaporean teachers if I call them just by their first names. I do not think it would hurt their egos, as they seem quite humble to me.

01-09-2003, 07:52 AM
Do you mean that Japanese teachers deserve more respect than non-Japanese? And that non-Japanese should have at least 30-40 years experience before they deserve this title off the mats?
I don't think I'm using the title as a sense of respect, per se.

I'm studying aikido. I'm a part of the aikido world. Heck, I'm part of the budo world. As such, I'm sensitive to knowing who is a teacher and who isn't. Also as a Japanase citizen and having been brought up in the Japanese culture, I'm inculcated with the language's nuances.

When I encounter any Japanese person, it's just a part of me to be polite; that's just a part of the Japanese language and culture (the two, of course, are almost inseperable). Regardless of who the person might be, if they're Japanese, it usually makes a lot more common sennse to me to use at least "san" after their name.

Combine that with my involvement in aikido pretty much forces me to use Japanese people's titles. That's why I'd use "sensei" for Japanese people. It's not out of "respect," per se, but due to the fact that that's how you'd address them in Japanese. The fact that most Japanese instructors whom I've met in the art are older than I am pretty much requires I use "sensei" with them, too.

However, I've lived in the United States for the past 25 years (with a brief stint in Japan for university research). It's the culture and language here to call people by their first names. It's not a sign of disrespect to do so, especially with folks whom I personally know. Also, many of the Western teachers with whom I've studied I'd consider to be a personal friend. Combine the two and you get the fact that it feels a lot more natural for me to call Western people by their first names.

However, with some teachers whom I've encountered, I'm not "friends," per se. These happen to be those who already occupy a very high place in the hierarchy. Although I know them and they know me, it's mighty difficult for me to overcome my Japanese cultural tendencies combined with my aikido involvement that, in this case, I call them Such-and-such sensei instead of something like Bill sensei or Frank sensei.

Of coruse, there are some Western folks I know whom I consider to be a personal friend who happen to have studied aikido for the past 40 to 50 years. These people I'll just call by their first names due to my interaction and relationship off the mat. Japanese folks, regardless of how well I know them off the mat, I'll most likely always call Such-and-such sensei.

So, as Bryan said, it's just an interesting mix of personal and cultural comfort. It's not that I respect Japanese instructors more -- it's just that, to me, the Japanese and Western cultural influences with which I've grown up show up (rather interestingly, if I may say so myself)...

Hope that made more sense...

-- Jun

01-09-2003, 10:41 AM
Jun, I knew this is what you meant from the beginning. I just saw the "suki" in your first post and I couldn't resist the temptation :)

01-09-2003, 10:49 AM
Heh -- thanks, Edward for keeping me honest. I promise I'll stop by the next time I'm in Bangkok..

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
01-09-2003, 10:53 AM
I really liked those answers, Jun. Strangely enough, I tend to operate the same way, but (of course) I'm not japanese. I'm always feeling caught between wanting to operate in a proper fashion relative to the cultural aspects of aikido, and *not* wanting to be a japanophile. It is sometimes a very thin line indeed.

Ron Tisdale

Mike Collins
01-09-2003, 11:21 AM
I have called my teacher by his first name at times, and frequently I've called him Sensei. Usually, but not always, in the dojo, it's Sensei; in most other situations it's Jack, unless it's somehow Aikido related and it's important that we each recognize our relative positions in that context, or that others see him receive that respect.

The teachers I've been acquainted with who're from Japan are always Sensei, and I have no idea why, but there's such a gulf of experience between us, I'd simply not feel comfortable calling them anything else. I have friends who are way beyond me in rank, up to 6th dan, and if they've not been my teacher, except as a training partner, and often when they have, I still refer to them by their name and add "san" if they live in Japan.

Teachers I don't know well, but respect, will almost always be Sensei, whether they're American or Japanese.

I doubt rules are really as critical as a certain kind of awareness of custom and appropriateness.

Sven Groot
01-10-2003, 06:17 AM
I usually refer to him as Sensei, both on and off the mat. I've never met him outside the dojo, so that's never come up.

I haven't been doing Aikido for very long, and I feel I do not know my Sensei enough to feel comfortable addressing him as Tom, and somehow using Sensei (without a name) seems less awkward to me than saying Mr. Verhoeven.

Hanna B
01-10-2003, 04:55 PM
Thanks Jun, that was very interesting. I have had a slight problem with Japanese teachers being called titles, while native teachers around me are just called their names. You have given me a good explanation for this.

01-10-2003, 09:13 PM
Heh -- thanks, Edward for keeping me honest. I promise I'll stop by the next time I'm in Bangkok..

-- Jun
That would be great! Hopefully soon.

As for myself, I always make sure to call any person who officially instructs a class "sensei", on and off the mats, regardless of their nationality. There are however people with whom I developed a very close friendship, these I call "sensei" only on the mats. Another group is my Sempai with whom we started on a first name basis, but later became instructors. These I still call them by first name on and off the mats.

01-13-2003, 03:45 PM
well, I think the dilemma of calling someone sensei or something else is related to degree of your relationship in practice. People around me ,who are older or close friends to my sensei, call him by his first name.

I think it make sense, if you call a doctor, professor or principal by their names in their lives it is also appropriate to call a sensei by his name out of dojo.

As I cited this is my observation and I don't know how should be in theory, either.

johnny rebb
01-17-2003, 02:01 AM
this is indeed an interesting topic...I personally feel that you can call some Sensei, Sir, Bill or whatever, if you don´t have respect and you call someone Sensei but you think he´s an asshole, it will still sound like "asshole".I believe you can call a Sensei by his/her firstname and you respect the person they will feel that.

That´s the way it works in Sweden.

cheers JR


01-17-2003, 06:20 AM
Oh John, thats a whole new can of worms, I know some people who can make "good morning" sound like "eat lead and die".

I agree with you in principle, but I assumed (naively?) that people who use the term sensei outside of the dojo situation were using it as a term of respect. Perhaps I've been mistaking the intention of those I've heard use this term, what a wonderful thought...

Ta Kung
01-17-2003, 06:51 AM
Yeah Ian, you really are an arse! :)

Just kidding, friend. I never met you... Don't come after me. My Aikido is weak. :eek:

And to stay on topic, we never say sensei to our sensei. We call him by his first name, and that's the way he likes it. We show our respect in other ways, we bow when he has helped us correct our technique and such...

12-29-2003, 08:09 PM
I always, and as far as I know and have seen all of our students always call our teacher sensei outside of class.

William Boyd
12-29-2003, 08:31 PM
Hi all :) I've always called my aikido teacher sensei. Aikido is a Japanese martial art so I use the Japanese terms. your in ai ki do .

12-29-2003, 09:06 PM
In most federations/Associations there are usually some rules governing who to call sensei and those you dont need to address as sensei.

If I recall, in USAF, only those 4th dan and above should be addressed as sensei. Those below 4th dan can be addressed by their name. But those that arent 4th dan can be addressed by their students as sensei if they so which after all they his/her students.

Nafis Zahir
12-29-2003, 09:30 PM
Out of respect, you should say Sensei inside and outside of the dojo. That is, if you are true to budo and aikido is not just a hobby for you. Do you really think that Saito Sensei, after being with O'Sensei for over 20 years, called him anything else besides O'Sensei? Just as you would call a Doctor, Doctor outside of his office, so should you call your Sensei, or any Sensei for that matter. Any Chiba, Yamada, or Kanai Sensei students out there? If so, what do you say?

12-29-2003, 09:46 PM

I think its a great sign of respect to call them Sensei outside the dojo. I certainly do. Infact I think its good to call ones teacher sensei not only because it shows humility(defined as humble enough to put aside your beliefs for the sake of learning. That is bringing a blank slate to receive and learn without reservations)and respect. Its good to distance yourslelf from your teacher to keep familiarity from breeding. The mindset should be you are there to learn. Not saying you can be friendly with your teacher, but on the mat there is a pecking order, head of the class is your teacher.

I kinda like when there is more than one sensei in the room and you call out " Hi sensei!" and get all their heads to turn. But maybe thats just my idea of fun

Rich Stephens
12-29-2003, 11:31 PM
As I started Aikido in Japan, it is quite natural to refer to my sensei there as sensei, in or out of the dojo.

I guess the most surprising thing for me about this thread is how many of you have friendly relationships with your Aikido sensei in daily life. That is surprising to me. It's further surprising that some of you seem to be implying that you don't feel the need to address them as sensei outside, because you feel outside the dojo you have equal status as they do or something and don't feel the need to treat them as your sensei. That is something I could never imagine doing in Japan.

Personally I'm just unable to separate Aikido from the Japanese culture and language. (If I could get over that perhaps I could find an acceptable dojo here in the u.s. but since I can't, I just wait).

Anyway, on another note, I found Mr. Akiyama's comments about using the first name with sensei or san for foreigners to be interesting. The Japanese have learned from movies and whatnot that Americans often use each other's first names and while that's true, it gets taken too far there. I was a teacher (not Aikido) in Japan and was always called Richard-Sensei instead of Stephens-sensei. For those who didn't know me as a teacher and used "san" instead, it was the same story. I must say that I wasn't always comfortable with that. It seemed belittling and often assumed a level of familiarity that did not exist. Oh well. One learns that such things are either misguided attempts to treat one as they mistakenly assumed we would like (see below), or in some cases just ways that although politeness requires them to add a "san" or "sensei" for your name, they want you to remember that you are not on the home team, no matter how long your association with Japan.

[about mistaken assumptions on what we foreigners are comfortable with: the average Japanese seems to have a bit of a misunderstanding about when westerners resort to using first names. They were surprised to hear that even in California we refered to our school teachers as Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. so and so and our university professors as Dr. so and so. Or our corporate bosses as Mr. or Ms. so and so. They assumed everyone went by first names.

So maybe they think they are doing something correct by calling a foreigner by their first name, but it's kind of odd. And the practice of using a first name which is what friends do, but still sticking on a title of "san" or "sensei" or even the English "mr." is even more bizarre!


12-29-2003, 11:50 PM
at first i addressed my instructors as 'sensei' on and off the mat, but they refuse to be called 'sensei' simply because they feel they haven't reached 'sensei' level yet, thus they asked me to addressed them by name instead. And so i called them by name until this day, but in my opinion no matter how you addressed your instructor, it should came out of respect and not because of their belt, as Thalib have said.

12-29-2003, 11:51 PM

I think its a great sign of respect to call them Sensei outside the dojo. I certainly do. Infact I think its good to call ones teacher sensei not only because it shows humility(defined as humble enough to put aside your beliefs for the sake of learning. That is bringing a blank slate to receive and learn without reservations)and respect. Its good to distance yourslelf from your teacher to keep familiarity from breeding. The mindset should be you are there to learn. Not saying you can be friendly with your teacher, but on the mat there is a pecking order, head of the class is your teacher.

I kinda like when there is more than one sensei in the room and you call out " Hi sensei!" and get all their heads to turn. But maybe thats just my idea of fun
I wrote a whole long post with regards to "respect" for one of the other current threads on that subject. However, I decided not to post it. Therefore I won't speak about that with regards to calling your teacher "Sensei" when not in the dojo.

I have a similar take on it as Mr. Oakes, and it speaks to me as a practitioner, well as a student, really. I call my teacher "Matsuoka Sensei" at the dojo because:

a. That is his title

b. He is my teacher

c. That is the custom in our dojo.

When I joined the dojo, I declared, "I am a student of Matsuoka Sensei." When I go into the dojo, I learn from this person. Sometimes about aikido, often times about many other things. Because I am the student, I treat him as the teacher, and he treats me as a student - because I am the student. He always treats me with respect, as do I, him.

Whenever I see my doctor at a restaurant, he is still my doctor. A priest outside his parish is still a priest. Even though I am married, and even if I have 20 children, my father will always be Dad. I may respect these individuals or I may not, but that does not change who they are in the world.

I said, "Matsuoka Sensei is my teacher." When I leave the dojo and go outside, my teacher doesn't suddenly change into anything different from whom he was when I was with him at the dojo. He is still my teacher. I listen to him and learn from him when we are in the parking lot, at restaurants, on the phone, at the bowling alley, the airport or even the bus station. I call him Sensei, because he is my teacher, and I am always his student, learning from him no matter where I am in relation to where he or our dojo is. Martial arts, at one level, are about raising one's consciousness to develop a mind of no openings. This I would consider to be a 24x7x365 endeavor. Therefore, I am a student 100 percent of the time and my teacher is a teacher 100 percent of the time.

What each of you do may or may not make sense to me. If it is different for you, and it empowers you as a student and your teacher as the teacher - GREAT! If not, then it may be time to re-evaluate the habit.

12-30-2003, 12:33 AM
It's a funny thing but when I started my group I really did not want to be called sensei mainly because it was a "let's train togeather" atmosphere that I was trying to clutivate and neither my assistant nor I have much rank to talk about. Originally most people did refer to me by my first name - sometimes with -san.

However, I noticed that both inside and outside the dojo (in the latter case usually there is some Aikido context) I am refered to as Peter sensei when talked about and more and more when addressed. My assitant gets the same treatment as he should. This is the culture and there is no stopping it.

That little story out of the way. In this culture sensei is applied to everything from dentists to old men, from kindergarten teachers to university professors. It's a big deal only in the context its being used.

I would be bothered if the title was used outside of an Aikido context in North America. Within the dojo - well part of the interest in training is that there is a little of the Japan mystique.

Greg Jennings
12-30-2003, 06:36 AM

However, I've lived in the United States for the past 25 years (with a brief stint in Japan for university research). It's the culture and language here to call people by their first names.
In many situations here in the South, it is totally inappropriate to address someone older by their first name. More rarely, this applies to people your own age and even younger people.

One says "Sir", "Ma'am", "Mr", "Miss", etc.

Then again, there are situations where it is *only* appropriate to address someone, regardless of age or hierarchical considerations, by their first name.

It's just a different culture here. The language, tone, inflection, etc. all carry nuances that are often lost on those that haven't spent a lot of time here.


01-05-2004, 11:26 PM
Me personally, I've called all my previous sensei's sensei at all times just out of respect. Even at my last workplace, my boss was a former career Army officer, and I naturally called him Mr. Hill, even though he told everyone they could just call him Tom. But somehow it just didn't feel right, so I always called him Mr. Hill. Deep down, I think he respected me for doing that. I even remember everyone else at my work asking me why I called him Mr. Hill instead of Tom.

My answer was that partially it was cultural. I'm part asian (filipino) and it's just something that we do. We call older brothers Kuya, older sisters Ate, and we call older non-relatives who are family friends Tito (for uncle) or Tita (for aunt). We can also say Manong as a respectful term for older male. It's also partially that my grandfather was a former Naval officer and he instilled in me a sense of respect for those above you. I call all older males Sir, and all older women Ma'am.

But that doesn't mean I'm blindly obedient. My first major style I actually quit because I realized that the founder of the style had an ego problem. He pretty much demanded to be called "master", which I found rather odd, since just about everything I've read shows that such a honorific is given by the students, not demanded by the instructor. While there was more to his ego trip than this, I realized early on that respect is something earned, but one should initially be respectful until someone has won your admiration.

Also, you have to consider the Japanese perspective of what a sensei truly is. In their concept of Giri and Gimu, the main difference between the two being that gimu can never fully be repaid. So from what I understand, we have gimu to our sensei for the valuable lessons we are taught.

To me, respect is one of the most important lessons in life. It teaches us humility, and it makes us sympathize with others more readily. No wonder "rei" was one of the virtues of bushido. So simply out of respect, I call my instructors sensei no matter where or when, just as I call all my university teachers professors (even if they don't have PhD's).

Usagi Yojimbo
01-17-2004, 01:19 AM
Wow... never thought about that... I call my Sensei "Joel". I met him before he started teaching the classes through a friend of mine. He gave us a ride home after we ate out at a local resturant after a seminar with Kato-sensei who had come over from Japan for the seminar. So I respect Joel, I know he can beat the tar out of me and everything, but I'm just comfortable calling him Joel. He doesn't seem to mind either, we talk and joke alot, mostly about Aikido or video games...

02-05-2004, 10:52 PM
My first Sensei was (& still is lol) Japanese, and everyone always called him that. It was almost like it _was_ his name.

My current Sensei is not Japanese but I always call him that as well. His 2IC I will call Sensei most times, unless we're all going out as a group. Then it's "John".

Sometimes senior students will take a class. Them I will call Sensei when they are taking the class, but by their name at other times.

Thom Hansen
02-05-2004, 11:12 PM
I ask my students to call me Sensei only when i'm in training off the mat i insist the call me Thom or even arsehole that is their want.

However i do insist that they always call senior instructors Sensei

02-06-2004, 08:50 AM
Nafis Zahir asked:

Any Chiba, Yamada, or Kanai Sensei students out there? If so, what do you say?

I started training at New York Aikikai last April, and it took me a little while to figure out the protocol. Yamada Sensei is referred to as "Sensei," and I believe Sugano Sensei is referred to as either "Sensei" or "Sugano Sensei," both in person or in absentia. Generally, in conversation if someone refers to "Sensei", they're talking about Yamada.

Therefore, at the end of Yamada Sensei's class, the class says "Thank you Sensei." Because of his reduced teaching schedule--and my schedule--I have not actually taken a regular class with Sugano Sensei, so I cannot comment directly on that, but my understanding is that again the class says "Thank you Sensei."

Other instructors are referred to by their first names; at the end of Steve Pimsler's class, the class says "Thank you Steve." This is true even if the teacher is above 4th dan, as is the case with Steve and many others, William Oakes' observation on USAF protocol notwithstanding.

This is all a way of minimizing the confusion that can result from a large teaching staff under one roof. Do others, in larger dojos, have similar approaches, or different?

02-07-2004, 10:42 AM
If I happened to encounter O Sensei I would just bow veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery low and kept my mouth shut.

At our dojo our teacher or sensei or whatever is always caled by his first name. Inside or outside the dojo. So there's no "Mr.__", no "sensei", no "teacher", no nothing. His idea, his wish - we go by that. However in my language we have a formal and an informal way of adressing people (like saying "you" or "You" in english, "sie" or "Sie" in german, you say "ti" or "Vi/vi" in slovene). Naturally I use the formal one.

It made me think also of how I adress those that teach at a university or academy rather than at the dojo - I always use "professor", "professor /surname/" or "Mr. professor" (that one sounds a lot more normal in slovene) without adding the surname and adress them in a formal way. I came to understand that being a university professor has in history been a very respected status, so these are old forms of speach and I guess old habits die hard.

Best regards!

02-07-2004, 11:51 AM
I tend to call my istructor Sensei, both inside and outside of the dojo, although I occasionally call him by his first name. He has said we can all call him by his first name outside the dojo, although I usually don't because it just doesn't feel 'right'.

02-07-2004, 07:32 PM
i always call my instructur, sensei with his/her name.But sometimes, i call his/her name, not when we're on practice

02-08-2004, 07:29 AM
I think in a non Japanese speaking dojo it is not necessary to address someone as sensei. On the other hand, it does come in handy when you go to another school and don't know or have forgotten the name of the teacher...

02-08-2004, 06:32 PM
Maybe I don't understand what Sensei means or translates as. So for those who speak Japanese, what does sensei mean.