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06-25-2000, 11:08 PM

I'm just starting out in Aikido. I've been to six classes so far and find myself getting into it deeper and deeper as I go along. I was wondering if you could tell me what some of the Japanese terms are and how to pronounce them. As an example, could you write out the pronunciation something like: Japanese "Jap-ann-ease"?

What I want to know is what is being said at the beginning of class when we bow in. One of the Senseis from the side will say something, then the main Sensei, and then the students will respond while bowing. So far I've just remained silent and bowed, but I would like to know before my next class, which is Tuesday night.

06-26-2000, 01:47 AM
Japanese is a phonetic language and its Romanization (Japanese written with English letters (ABC's)) corresponds very much to the way it should be pronounced.

The Language (http://www.aikiweb.com/language/) section of this website contains some information on aikido terms. Also, if your browser and computer handles sound files, you can check out the Aikido Audio Language Files (http://www.aikiweb.com/language/audio.html) here on AikiWeb which will provide you with audio files of a lot of common aikido terms being pronounced.

Most likely what is being said at the beginning of class is "onegai shimasu" which can be very loosely translated as "please train with me." The aforementioned Language (http://www.aikiweb.com/language/) section has a more in-depth article on the term (http://www.aikiweb.com/language/onegai.html).

Hope that helps,

-- Jun

07-03-2000, 11:03 AM
Is there some reason why you haven't asked any of the senior students in your dojo? I ask for a couple reasons:
1) There is some variation in who say what at the beginning and end of class, so the only way to know for sure what is being said at your dojo is to ask someone at your dojo.
2) One of the functions of the seniors is to help the juniors. By asking them, you allow them to fulfill this function. This is good for their training and yours.
Keith Engle

07-03-2000, 11:59 AM
I've taught myself enough Japanese to know what they were saying and to say it, just not know what it meant. I asked my sempai one Saturday at the end of class. Keith has a good suggestion. Your sempai can probably answer it better than us, and hopefully, are a little bit more sound in the head :).


07-04-2000, 09:41 AM
I varies from school to school and organization affiliation, etc. The ones I've seen are pretty much the same in that they line up (most in rank order, although not all), the teacher comes in and meditates a short time, claps two times, four times, or not at all, bows to the shomen, while the senior student says, "O-Sensei rei," (bow to O-Sensei) and as the teacher turns to face the class and bows again, the senior student may say something like "Sensei ni rei" or "Shihan ni rei." In some schools (as in ours), when the students bow to O-Sensei they say "masakatsu agatsu" and then for the second bow to the teacher say "onegaishimas." At the end of class we repeat the same, except for the second bow in which we say "domo arigato gozaimashita" and the teach responds "doitashimaste" (sorry Jun I know my spelling's wrong on that one).
Seriously, AikiWeb's files on this type of stuff are really good, and probably more literate than my explanation. I also agree that you should ask the senior student.

Chuck Clark
07-04-2000, 11:08 AM
I must say that I've never heard anyone say, "O-Sensei ni rei" or the masakatsu agatsu O-Sensei quote as a form of reigi. (We don't use the term "O-Sensei")

I'm not saying it's wrong; you or anyone else out there can say whatever you like. It just sort of rankles me to have everyone saying little bits of philosophy en masse.

I, for one, do not put anyone's picture in the kamiza. We have photos of our teachers and their teachers on a side wall of the dojo at the back.

We bow twice, clap twice, and bow again. The teacher turns and everyone bows one time as a respectful greeting to each other and some people, or everyone if they want say "onegaeshi mas". At the end of practice we do the same thing and everyone says "thank you".

07-04-2000, 11:34 AM
I, too, can't say I've ever heard of "O-sensei/Sensei/Shihan ni rei" in aikido. I will say that we used to do the whole reading of the five dojo kun, "Sensei/So-shihan ni rei" business when I was doing karate, though, so it may not be too foreign.

As far as the types of bowing in that I've seen done, it really does vary from dojo to dojo. Here are some (certainly not all) that I've seen:
Bow once, clap twice, bow again. Teacher turns around. Bow to teacher.
Bow once. Teacher turns around. Bow to teacher.
Bow once, clap four times, bow again. Teacher turns around. Bow to teacher.
Bow to the shomen. Bow to the instructor. Bow to each other.
We do 1) at our dojo. If I remember correctly, we did 2) at Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

-- Jun

07-04-2000, 03:10 PM
Sounds like a lotta bowin' goin' on! Probably the main thing is that classes begin with respect and end with thankfulness.
Chuck, I viewed your page, and it looks like you've synthesized a number of arts, so O-Sensei would be more of a contributor amongst many, so it would make sense not to have his picture there.
I come from an independent, although traditional, dojo where my teacher is from Guam and studied from the time he could walk with his uncles who trained from their father and the direct learning there came from both Okinawa and Japan, and given the generations involved it would have been more aikijitsu/aiki budo at the beginning of their learning and then more actual aikido as he grew up, so we draw from many wells, too.
I've worked out in Ireland, Orlando, Denver, and Hawaii, and I would say there are more similarities than differences, and probably the instructor's preferences play into the mix also.
For someone who wishes to read in detail on this, Steven Seagal provides a lot of detail on the proper number of claps, etc., in an interview in the Reynosa-Bieri handbook, which is interesting reading.
I never minded bowing with exception of one school where everyone constantly switches partners and bows at beginning and end, and then at class end bows individually to each partner from the entire night! Nice, but really burns up too much time that could be spent practicing. PEace :)

Chuck Clark
07-04-2000, 03:18 PM
In my experience, there seems to be more "bowing" outside of Japan in aikido dojo than any dojo I've been around in Japan. I've heard some of the most outlandish explanations about why things are done this way or that way in Japan by people who've never been there!

07-04-2000, 03:30 PM
Man, this thread moves fast! Almost real-time chat!
You're right, I think some people feel the more "Japan-like" you are, the more "real" the learning or something, which is, of course, wishful thinking!