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Tubig
07-27-2005, 10:38 PM
There was a karate teacher that once said that One would know that they are good if they can beat their own master.

I heard a few students that left their teacher and went Japan themselves and surpassed their old sensei's rank. So who becomes the sempai now?

Also a burning question in me is that given that Osensei was beaten by Sukoku Takeda initially (apparently that is the reason that Osensei became Takeda Sensei's student). In the end did Osensei eventually surpass Takeda sensei's skill? If they ever had a duel considering that they both are in the pinnacle and prime of their martial art. Who do you think would have won?

Aristeia
07-27-2005, 10:45 PM
I am now one grade higher than one of my orgininal teachers. It was kind of awkward at first but thankfully we're both pretty sensible so it's really not a big deal.

Kevin Temple
07-27-2005, 10:56 PM
I'd say surpassing someone in belt rank shouldn't change a relationship at all, nobody suddenly loses all of their knowledge just because you have a little certificate saying you are a rank higher than them. I think if you can outrank someone and still let them be the teacher, thats when you've truly earned the rank... however to be fair, i started up pretty recently and don't outrank anyone, so it doesn't quite apply to me

Tubig
07-27-2005, 11:03 PM
Etiquette wise. Who bows lower and who takes over the class?

PeterR
07-27-2005, 11:04 PM
The who could beat who question is vulgur and has no meaning. I've never heard any story of Takeda beating Ueshiba M. in a fight - what's your source for that? There are a couple of stories of Ueshiba M. being challenged but even here one has to wonder to what degree the challenge was hard core or just a strong attack with a "lets see what you can do" attached. There is one (self serving in my opinion) story of Ueshiba M. whimpering in the corner when he fisrt joined Takeda's dojo but - well its happened to all of us at one time or the other.

Your original teacher will always be sempai. That can never change.

PeterR
07-27-2005, 11:13 PM
Now who takes over class that is a separate more interesting question.

I regularly have two people two dan ranks above me join my dojo. They are also sempai. I still give the class but of course use their knowledge well. Depending on what I want/need to do they get periods of time, groups of students, etc. Of course when our collective teacher comes - the whole class is his.

Bowing all depends on how much more of a sempai he is and how much more you outrank him. If at all unsure - bow equally.

Tubig
07-27-2005, 11:17 PM
Peter My apologies for the 'vulgar' word. Fortunately most people can read between the lines, find meaning and actually join the conversation without being the word and technicality Nazi. So I guess the 'Vulgar' word will just have to stay. Also I would have thought that you would have known the Takeda and Ueshiba meeting in an Inn in Shirataki Hokaido with your calibre of information that you know about everything. I think I can leave that incident to you to find out yourself being a good research scientist and all.

After surpassing the old sensei in grade, would one dare to offer advice on their old sensei's technique?

Aristeia
07-27-2005, 11:18 PM
Etiquette wise. Who bows lower and who takes over the class?

In my case he had been ducking grading since I started. He moved away for a time and when he came back I was a grade higher because I hadn't been ducking gradings :)
I tried to still give him the senior position in the line up, the first technique when we trained together, all that stuff you would normally give to a senior, but he wouldn't have it.

There's some debate about this. Particularly because alot of people stop grading at a certain point because they feel it's no longer bang for buck (cost of grading is another topic so I'll try not to get distracted)
So you get a Nidan that's been training 20 years and some sandans who have been training 10. Some people say the nidans in this case are still senior and should be afforded that ettiquette, others say rank is the final arbiter. I'm in two minds. The only real difference it makes is in sending to the juniors the message of who's Aikido is more mature so they have some guidance as to who to model their technique on.
The problem is it's hard to differentiate between the nidan who hasn't graded because he's ducking it and the nidan who's crap, which makes grade the more sensible thing to go by.

At the end of the day though this is one of those pieces of minuture about training that you can spend alot of time navel gazing about but it really doesn't matter.
For instance in the case with my old teacher, by his insistance I take the lead spot in the line up etc but apart from that it's just good training with us both contributing to the others progression.

PeterR
07-27-2005, 11:52 PM
I used the same word that Shishida and Nariyama used when describing the question "which art is better Aikido or Karate" in the book Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge. I found both questions revolve around the same false premise.

The question of greater skill, especially in a non-competitive???? art really is quite base (is that word better) and does have no meaning. How is skill level evaluated. Rank and the sempai/kohei relationship are organizational and it is expected that actual ability does not necessarily correspond especially in the day of different ages, training time, etc. More to the point what does one persons Aikido have to do with your own unless they can teach you something.

Technical tips I've recently gone down to kyu level students that had been polishing something I was pretty rusty at and likewise I've had higher dans come to me for the same reasons. I've even, albeit very carefully, offered and accepted, suggestions going the other way. This is totally normal with any training I have done here.

I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic or not with respect to knowledge but I genuinely asked for the source. The accounts I heard were of a chance meeting between Ueshiba and Takeda at the Inn and it was quite mundane. No challenge match or fight was involved. Some authors are known to embellish.

This is a pretty reliable source.
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=226

PeterR
07-28-2005, 12:10 AM
For a description about Ueshiba and Takeda's first meeting try
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=226

I find Tokimune Takeda usually quite balanced and fair with respect to his father's relationship to Ueshiba M.

Joe Bowen
07-28-2005, 12:26 AM
When I'm scheduled to teach a class, I teach the class. If someone senior attends, I may or may not, offer them the opportunity to teach depending on whether or not there is something specific I want to do during the class time.

I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to have trained with some very skilled people. Since I established the dojo on the military base and have run it for a number of years, when folks senior to me in Aikido move to the area temporarily, I maintain the teacher's position in the dojo on the military base.

My first "run-in" over issues of rank started before I was even shodan. At the time, my Sensei taught the classes on the base and we were joined by a shodan from another style of Aikido. One day, my Sensei was not able to make the class and called to instruct me on what to teach. I asked him if he would prefer the shodan instruct the class instead of me and he said no. To his credit, the shodan remained through the class but, I assume, was somewhat insulted by having to receive instruction from me as he never returned.

The second occurrence was much better. After administrating the class for a number of years and receiving my shodan, my Sensei had me teaching more frequently. A US Air Force officer, whom I had met years before in Japan moved into the area and was assigned to the base where I taught. He was a Sandan and I was Shodan. From the beginning, he told me that this was my dojo, not his and he would teach only when I asked it of him. Otherwise, he was just there to practice. In my opinion, that is the proper attitude on the part of the senior ranked visitor. It was truly a blessing having him participate in the dojo. He taught periodically and influenced my Aikido, even when he was not instructing. Truly a model to be emulated. He even helped me to prepare for and pass my Nidan test.

There also is the case of the 20 some odd year practitioner that just hasn't tested in a while here. Even though his somewhat low ranking is not commensurate with his skill (there are several here that "out-rank" him) he is always afforded the respect that his ability affords him, and whenever I can convince him to visit my dojo on the base, I always afford him the opportunity to teach, primarily because I want to learn from him.

Rank does not always equate to skill. When someone of higher rank attends the class, I generally do not critique their technique unless what they are doing is inhibiting their partner. In that particular type of case, I'll utilize them as uke in order to "explain" the technique to their partner. This subtle methodology typically works. Generally speaking though, this seldom if ever, happens. The atmosphere of the classes that I teach is open enough for cordial exploration of variations in the techniques. Sometimes, I'll even consult with the senior ranked people on the technique during the class.

Etiquette wise, I cannot give you any type of answer. I personally offer the same etiquette to all people regardless of rank. I am not aware of any hard and fast rules regarding "who bows lower"; if I respect that person, I bow low. ;)

eyrie
07-28-2005, 05:14 AM
A truly excellent post Joseph! :)

Kyudos
07-28-2005, 05:40 AM
I don't know what it's like in other countries or other organisations, but we are only allowed to give up our class to visiting sempai if they are qualified and insured.

If not, whatever their rank, the qualified and insured person must take the class.

mj
07-28-2005, 05:50 AM
Nazi.
Oh dear.

Sonja2012
07-28-2005, 06:19 AM
I heard a few students that left their teacher and went Japan themselves and surpassed their old sensei's rank. So who becomes the sempai now?

AFAIK, sempai refers to a person who started (I believe it literally meant: walked through the door) to train in a dojo before another person. Am I mistaken here?

So, unless this is wrong, I am with Peter: whoever is your sempai will always be your sempai - this is nothing that one can "catch up with" or "overtake".

grondahl
07-28-2005, 06:54 AM
AFAIK, sempai refers to a person who started (I believe it literally meant: walked through the door) to train in a dojo before another person. Am I mistaken here?

So, unless this is wrong, I am with Peter: whoever is your sempai will always be your sempai - this is nothing that one can "catch up with" or "overtake".

OTOH Some dojos have "official" sempai. And in Kyukushin Karate my understanding is that all instructors below sandan have the official title sempai (even when they have a dojo of there own), so I guess that the answer is "It depends".
Strange things happens when words and titles are taken out of itīs cultural context.

Qatana
07-28-2005, 08:48 AM
My sensei outranks every teacher at the dojo he trains at, except for his own sensei. When he is a student, he is a student, no matter the rank of the person teaching.

Sonja2012
07-28-2005, 08:50 AM
OTOH Some dojos have "official" sempai. And in Kyukushin Karate my understanding is that all instructors below sandan have the official title sempai .

I didnīt know that. Does any one happen to know the literal meaning of the word/kanji?

happysod
07-28-2005, 09:09 AM
Speaking as one of the "surpassed" (being a veteran grade dodger) it all depends - if it's my night to teach, I teach, if not I just get thrown but best of all I get to train, so who gives a monkeys?

I would presume this all really depends on how formal the club is, how large and where it is in the world. I've also found other arts do seem to use sempai to denote rank rather than time served (normally brown belt or equivalent is what I've experienced).

With regard to a more senior rank turning up to my dojo, no they wouldn't teach unless I'd invited them myself or I was confident in their ability from first-hand knowledge. If this upset them, tough, I would not hand my students over to an unknown under any circumstances (and to be honest, some of the "known" would be asked just to leave)

Daphne
07-28-2005, 12:13 PM
Sadao Yoshioka Sensei had the following to say about the Sempai/Kohai relationship:

". . .going back to student position, if two students start Aikido the same day, the older person will be sempai, or senior. When two students take the same kyu test at the same time, the older person will be sempai, or senior. Regardless of when you start, if someone who is your junior puts in more hours and takes the next promotion test before you, that person, who was your junior, will be your sempai from then on. So attending class regularly, and taking tests when you're qualified is very important in the long run, because of your status as sempai or kohai. With two persons taking the same test at the same time, age will make a difference, and the older person will be senior, sempai. When you receive your black belt, the date of your test for promotion will be considered your date of sempai/kohai."

http://www.trussel.com/aikido/f_sens.htm

Ron Tisdale
07-28-2005, 03:03 PM
In the end did Osensei eventually surpass Takeda sensei's skill? If they ever had a duel considering that they both are in the pinnacle and prime of their martial art. Who do you think would have won?

Sorry, I'm with Peter, I think vulgar is the appropriate word. But hey, nobody cares what I think. :)

It is well known that Ueshiba was notably absent on occation when Takeda showed up unannounced, and that Ueshiba never 'took back' the dojo Takeda took over...but personally I think we make too much of that stuff some times. In my mind, avoiding the confrontation was just a way of showing proper respect. Not to mention the fact that personally, knowing someone who is old school enough to always carry (and be able to use) a blade would be enough for me to avoid the confrontation...

Best,
Ron

Lan Powers
07-28-2005, 04:56 PM
> But hey, nobody cares what I think. <
Not quite true....
Over time, it has become quite apparent who's opinions I wish to hear ....
Lan

Tubig
07-28-2005, 10:42 PM
The reason for me posting this is at one point in the dojo we had a talented kyu grader that went to Iwama and studied under Saito sensei and with Hitohiro sensei for nine months as uchideshi. I must admit he's gifted in martial arts. He came back with his shodan. He has surpassed alot of sempais with skill and rank. No one really minded him being sempai for he was really humble about his rank, he took the class from the regular sempais. I always wondered what was the protocol with that.

Peter and Ron my apologies for being vulgar. I always wondered who would win if the two great senseis went for a duel, I just thought I would hear from more informed practitioners like the regulars in the forum. Peter I checked out the link. Youre right Tokimune sensei is fairer in regards to Osensei. It is just majority of authors and books that I have read about the meeting in Shirataki denoted that there was a challenge and a bout.

PeterR
07-28-2005, 11:11 PM
Cromwell;

Just to be clear - I was referring to this class of questions as vulgar not you or anyone who asks them. It might be a fine line (I asked therefore I am) but it was not meant as such.

Is Karate better than Aikido?
Is Saito better than Tomiki?
Is Superman better than Batman?

There are just so many variables and at their respective pinnacles they themselves would not engage in such a contest. Well maybe Superman and Batman would but Batman (while having a way cooler car) would be an idiot for trying.

As I understand it after the initial meeting at a Daito-ryu seminar in Engaru at the Hisada Inn. Ueshiba later invited Takeda to Shirataki and they trained at the local inn. Again no challenges and by that time the student teacher relationship was already established. Try
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=25 for more detail of the first meeting and the early relationship.

Cromwell can you provide a source for the challenge match if possible. I really am curious.

By the by - the returning student you mentioned sounds like he learned his lessons in Iwama well. Too often people go and train at a Honbu for a relatively short time and just don't get it. Back in their own countries some act as if they are God's gift. He should be complemented.

Rocky Izumi
05-04-2006, 07:17 PM
The second occurrence was much better. After administrating the class for a number of years and receiving my shodan, my Sensei had me teaching more frequently. A US Air Force officer, whom I had met years before in Japan moved into the area and was assigned to the base where I taught. He was a Sandan and I was Shodan. From the beginning, he told me that this was my dojo, not his and he would teach only when I asked it of him. Otherwise, he was just there to practice. In my opinion, that is the proper attitude on the part of the senior ranked visitor. It was truly a blessing having him participate in the dojo. He taught periodically and influenced my Aikido, even when he was not instructing. Truly a model to be emulated. He even helped me to prepare for and pass my Nidan test.
Was that Mike C.? Sounds like him.

Rock

Rocky Izumi
05-04-2006, 07:35 PM
IMO, the sempai/kohai relationship is a kind of psychological bond between people. Like the Sensei/seito relationship, if one doesn't recognise the other as Sensei/Sempai or Seito/Kohai, the relationship doesn't exist and doesn't matter. Unfortunately, in the West, these days, the meaning of such relationships has become more of less contractual and the harmony that binds these people has become less important.

In a relationship between two people, one could be the sempai in one situation and kohai in another, just like a person could be the father and still be the son's student. My son will soon surpass me in Kendo and I hope he will become my Sensei there but I still remain his Aikido Sensei and his father. But, in Kendo, I hope he will become my Sensei and I will treat him as such if he will allow me to do so. Sometimes, that can be difficult. In those situations, the two Sensei's of the two different arts that study from each other simply stay out of the dojo situation and practice privately as equals. This can be difficult but it is possible. You just have to compartmentalise your emotions and ego and act with proper etiquette. It does become easier as the two people increase in rank. You will find that your relationship to your teacher becomes different as you become better and progress up the ranks. You become more equals unless, as a lower rank, you do something stupid in public. So to avoid that, the two retain a very formal relationship in public but in private, things are different. It all depends on the situation. Again, I am blithering.

Rock

Chuck Clark
05-04-2006, 10:39 PM
Rocky, I'm in the same situation with my son. Aaron has become senior to me in skill in Shinto Muso Ryu, but is still my student in Aikibudo and Judo. He has become a fine budo teacher and I'm looking forward to learning more jo from him in the future. He's not technically my sensei yet, but someday I'm sure he will be.

Best regards,

Dajo251
05-04-2006, 11:15 PM
I dont know why but it amuses me that my senseis mother trains in our school......

Dirk Hanss
05-05-2006, 02:22 AM
I do not care much about measuring the deapth of bowing. You bow as you respect the other one as human being. If you want to be formal, it is more important, who starts coming back from bowing - in old videos, I have seen American visitors, who bowed deep to O Sensei, but were stand upright, before O Sensei was really at his lower point. That was quite ungentle, but obviously barbarians stay barbarians, why loose any more word on this.

Kohai/sempai rule in our dojo is quite clear. Who has the higher rank in our dojo is sempai,the other one is kohai. If both are ranked equally, the one who was granted his rank first, is the sempai. If they tested on the same day, the relationship is inherited from the testing before, etc.

Why only a rank from our dojo? Because if you are new to a doo, you might be good, but you have to get used to the actual etiquette, ritus, or however you call it, or even with the location.

So probably, if there is a new regular student, sensei will set him in the hierarchie by formally acknowledging his rank. Until then he is kohai to everyone else. But that is just a gimmick.

So surpassing your sempai is quite easy. Surpassing your sensei is something else. If you are definitely better and are instructor, you are the sensei. Difficult is the the time were the students believes, he is better, but the sensei thinks there is still much, he has to be taught.You van never become someones sensei without his approval. If he accepts you as instructor in regular classes or in seminars, he is your sensei.
So I guess, if they can agree upon, it is clear who is the sensei, and if they cannot, one will have to leave. In traditional dojo it would be probably the student, who leaves - unless he challenges the sensei and beat him out (very traditional ;) ). In modern organisations the studantcan pass his master by the organisation's rule, e.g. being elected, promoted by the shihan, etc. then the former sensei has to accept or has to leave.

Just my 2 cts (€-cts, of course)

Dirk

Budd
05-05-2006, 11:28 AM
While rank and experience can certainly be measures, I would think that most teachers would want their students to someday surpass them in accomplishment.

aikidoc
05-05-2006, 02:10 PM
I had a similar experience to Joseph's. One of my early instructors would assign those of us senior to teach periodically when he was out of town. He clearly instructed us that no matter who showed up we were in charge of the class. One class had a visiting sandan, aikikai, who showed up. He was somewhat insulted we did not let him to teach (he hinted quite strongly he should be teaching due to his rank). His technique just happened to be weak so in retrospect we did not feel bad about it. Our instructor had seen him on the mat previously and it was one of the reasons we were told not to let anyone else teach on our assigned nights.

Nick P.
05-05-2006, 08:28 PM
I had a similar experience to Joseph's. One of my early instructors would assign those of us senior to teach periodically when he was out of town. He clearly instructed us that no matter who showed up we were in charge of the class. One class had a visiting sandan, aikikai, who showed up. He was somewhat insulted we did not let him to teach (he hinted quite strongly he should be teaching due to his rank). His technique just happened to be weak so in retrospect we did not feel bad about it. Our instructor had seen him on the mat previously and it was one of the reasons we were told not to let anyone else teach on our assigned nights.

Our sensei has given us seniors, myself and two others, the same instructions. That sandan should have known A LOT better where his place was, especially as a visitor.
I "teach" in Sensei's absence, and have many times led class with seniors and sempai in the ranks. But like mentionned by others, they are valued and deffered to a fair bit.

As to the original question, I remember a detailed discussion from several more informed Aikidoka on this forum on what is and what is not sempai; I for one now see it more as a question of relative time and ability in comparison to myself, and even then try to treat everyone with the same level of respect....but usually fail ;). I have been called Sensei by some, and though flattered, corrected them and by saying "If you insist on giving me a title, it could be sempai, but "Nick" is just fine."

Lucy Smith
05-06-2006, 11:23 PM
I think, as many of you said, that you can never be sempai to your Sensei, even if you're higher ranked. It's just a matter of respect and love. It's the same with other students, at least for me; one 5th kyu in our dojo left for a while because she can't pay. I will be 5th kyu next month (I hope), and I'll probably be 4th or 3rd kyu when she returns. I'm also older than her. But I will treat her as my sempai, no matter what she says, because she has taught me and supported me, and she didn't leave intentionally. Even if etiquette and Sensei makes it unable for me to treat her as my sempai, she will always be sempai in my heart (OK, no more tears here). If it's like this with her, it would definitely be like this with my Sensei (who by the way will never be lower in rank than me).