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I know we're not supposed to have this kind of relationship in the west, but it would appear my dojo does. I love how my dojo sticks together. We're like this little army. I remember once we were in this bar and this guy wanted to fight one of us and our mate shouts out "Hey, this guy wants a fight" and literally everyone at the bar leans back and has a look. Everyone at the bar meaning half my dojo. The guy wanting the fight took note and foxtrot oscared.
I'm senior, I'm the best trained, it's my responsibility to take care of the situation.
I suppose my dojo is unique in that we live in each others pockets. We train together, drink together, used to be in college together, in some cases live and work together.
I remember those days in college. Weapons bags slung over shoulders and propped up in corners of labs. Nods and small bows made in corridors. "Training later?" "Hai." "Yosh!"
I remember once I was working on a computer and Sensei, being a computer technician came in to fix it and he asked if he could have access to it. This was in the middle of class and I said, out of habbit, "Hai, Sensei, dozo."
Broken Japanese was and still is a way of acknowledging this in group status, this deep connection we all have. "O genki des ka?" "Hai genki des, anata wa?" "Snafu." "So des ka?/honto, nani?"
Occasionally Sensei calls me when I'm in public and I answer, "Hai, Sensei?" And everyone looks at me. It started off as habbit and I'd cringe at myself but I've just become comfortable with it. Now I'm "Hai......hai......hai so des........sensei.......sensei.....hai sensei........sensei......yes sensei...honto.. so so so...sensei.......I will be yes sensei, ok see you later, sensei." And I don't care. All my friends being budoka they ask "Who was that?"and I say "Sensei" and they nod in that understanding way. "So des." Or more likely, "Visitors? Which visitors? Who? Why didn't you ask?" Well if they're so keen to get started they can put the mats down themselves.
If we goof up "sorry" doesn't cut it, "Sumimasen" means you're sorry. "Sorry" means you're not sorry enough to go to the effort of expressing it in japanese.
Putting my English language student hat on I suppose the way we use the Japanese language creates solidarity and a group identity.