AikiWeb Aikido Forums

AikiWeb Aikido Forums (
-   Language (
-   -   Onegaishimasu (

Ron Tisdale 08-06-2004 12:18 PM

Hi folks,

I'm a yoshinkaner here, so bear with me...

In standard aikikai practice, people often say onigaishimasu to each other when requesting a partner to train with (please help/teach/instruct me, right?). Is this typically said by the jr. to the senior only, or by both partners, or by whoever is asking, and the one who accepts says nothing?

Based on the meaning, I usually say it in aikikai settings regardless of the rank of the person I'm asking to train with for a couple of reasons:

1) since I don't usually train in the aikikai, I figure just about everyone is my senior there

2) even if I am senior (or by some strange trick of fate, actually have something usefull to share) I have no problem asking for instruction from a jr.

Can some people from various associations here (in the states) and in japan enlighten me as to common practice and true meaning?

Ron (yoshinkan impaired / inhanced [your choice] aikidoka)

Chuck Clark 08-06-2004 12:49 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
Hi Ron,

In my background, the meaning (in a dojo setting as opposed to in common use in Japan during daily activities) has been explained to me like this. Onegaishimasu = "Please, would you train with me?" Along with this invitation to do something together is an implied agreement that we'll do our best to do this as well as we can and take care of each other.

Juniors usually ask the senior and the senior nods or says something that acknowledges their understanding of the agreement.

This has been explained to me by several senior budo teachers in similar ways but the capsulized version above is mine.

I have heard many other interpretations over the years. I'm always curious to hear more...

Ron Tisdale 08-06-2004 12:52 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
Hi Chuck!
So by this understanding then, it would be inappropriate for the senior to respond with 'onegishimasu', correct?


John Boswell 08-06-2004 01:10 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
An observation:

We have a nidan at my dojo who first studied aikido under Frank Doran Sensei in San Fransico. This nidan always begins practice with each individual with "Onegaishimasu" at the start of each technique. His definition of it is about the same as what Sensei Clark has said above, but I've never seen any issue with it as far as rank goes.

My interpretation of it is: it's just good manners! Saying Onegaishimasu is, in my mind, asking someone to train with you in such a way as to help you learn and neither of you get hurt. And afterwards, you thank them with "Domo arigato."

My organization is AAA, and I've seen it done this way at seminars as well as in my own dojo. Dunno if this will help... hope so. :)

Ron Tisdale 08-06-2004 01:14 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
It all helps, as it increases my understanding. Thanks,

Greg Jennings 08-06-2004 01:23 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu

Don_Modesto 08-06-2004 01:27 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
Hey, Ron. I haven't paid enough attention to details while training to answer your question precisely, but fwiw...

I say it to whomever I'm training with as we begin; finishing, I say "Arigato Gozaimashita".

I've noticed a trend for saying "Onegai Shimasu" both before and after training. I have a couple of students from an Iwama dojo who do that and also say it to me after I've offered a suggestion on their technique. (I'd be interested in comments from people who do this.) I always say thank you in that situation myself.

In Japan, it's used whenever a request is being made and then having been made and granted, used again, i.e., they don't say thank you at that point as we do in English, they repeat "Onegai Shimasu" (in the logic of Jpn protocol, thanking someone at this point is presumptuous somehow).

...not directly pertinent to your question, but I hope it's interesting anyway. Take care.

Ron Tisdale 08-06-2004 01:36 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
kool, its good to get so much input. Jun's description is really worth reading, and gives me the impression that the form we use is pretty much stripped of rank connotations. I asked because someone recently told me that only a jr. would say this to a had never really struck me that way, and I kind of like saying it to anyone I'm training with. Of course, when in Rome...

Thanks again all,

ps, Hi Don, check out the latest post on e-budo in the AJJ dojo finder, you might have an answer...

akiy 08-06-2004 01:44 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu

Don J. Modesto wrote:
I say it to whomever I'm training with as we begin; finishing, I say "Arigato Gozaimashita".

Basically, likewise here -- although I usually say, "Thank you!" after I train with someone.

It seems odd to my Japanese ears to hear "onegaishimasu" after training. It's usually said before whatever it is that you wish to have the other person undertake (eg train with you, pick you up at the airport, etc)...

I can say that I've heard senior people say that phrase to juniors, most ostensibly in bowing to start a class when they're teaching it. Of course, it's all intertwined in the Japanese hierarchical society. One might argue by saying, "onegaishimasu" that you're placing yourself "under" the other person (as you are, in a way, asking for a favor of the other party). As such, a person more senior might ask you if you can do something for them by asking, "Can you ------ for me?" rather than putting it as a "favor" of sorts.

But, to answer Ron's original question, I'd say that most of the time, both parties training will say, "onegaishimasu" to each other before training. It doesn't seem odd for me to say such to my partner regardless of their rank...

-- Jun

Charles Hill 08-06-2004 02:11 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu

John Boswell wrote:
This nidan always begins practice with each individual with "Onegaishimasu" at the start of each technique.

The younger shihan/shidouin who teach the beginner classes at the Aikikai Honbu do the same, although their purpose might be to model proper behaviour for the students.

Charles Hill

Chuck Clark 08-06-2004 03:41 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu

I often hear onegaishimasu used in reply to someone as they begin, however, there is a "different" intonation that seems to mean to me, "Yes, please lets do...thanks for asking" ... kinda and then thank you (in whatever language is appropriate) after the practice. This often happens quickly and informally depending on the situation, etc.

I do think the word implies an "agreement" or yakusoku that saying please in English does not often carry with it. I like the idea and custom of this understood agreement.

Good discussion, thanks.

senseimike 08-06-2004 03:55 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
I always understood it to mean "I ask of you a favor" or something in that nature. The students say it to sensei at the beginning of class to ask the favor of teaching them. The sensei says it to the students at the beginning to ask the favor of their attention. The students say it to each other to ask the favor of training and taking ukemi for each other, basically the favor of the use of their bodies. Just my take on it... may not be correct

Lan Powers 08-06-2004 06:08 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
As our instructor has put it to us, ...."Thank you for this favor".
You do the favor to train together....both sides gain. (aiki for it to benifit both without indebtedness implied, to my thought) I like Mike Taylors take on this. :)
Interesting to hear other viewpoints....

Charles Hill 08-06-2004 06:14 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
Japanese kids in candy or toy shops scream " onegai, onegai, onegai" when they want mom or dad to buy something. So I guess it can be translated as "do it for me or you'll never hear the end of it."

Charles Hill

otto 08-06-2004 06:20 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
Pardon my ignorance ,but i've never heard this word used on an aikido dojo as implied here...

I'm curious about its pronuciation , is in form of an answer? or more like a request?


Charles Hill wrote:
Japanese kids in candy or toy shops scream " onegai, onegai, onegai" when they want mom or dad to buy something. So I guess it can be translated as "do it for me or you'll never hear the end of it."

LOL , I'll have to teach that to my niece :D

Quite a bit of interesting info guys , keep it coming..

maikerus 08-06-2004 09:03 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
I'm in Yoshinkan as well and when I trained in Canada I don't believe anyone ever said "onegaishimasu" on the mat (although we always bowed out with "arigatou gozaimashita).

When I came to Japan my first experience with the word was to Kancho Sensei when we were introduced as the members of that years Senshusei course. I remember having a really hard time trying to remember how to pronounce it as I stood up in front of everyone and bowed to him <wry grin>. At the time it was explained to me as "please think upon me favourably" or something close to that that doesn't have an English translation.

Aside: If anyone's interested I think I was told to remember "On a guy she must" and drop the final "T". Okay..not politically correct, but I did remember it! Also, for "doitashimashita" or "you're welcome" I was told to remember "Don't touch my mustache".

During the senshusei course we used "onegaishimasu" as part of our morning shinkoku (report) to the instructors, but not on the mats.

As I stayed in Japan longer I started using it more because it is a large part of Japanese society and language. Interestingly enough, now that I am running my own dojo I have found that most Japanese beginners use "onegaishimasu" automatically when they are beginning to train with their partners. Yoshinkan has a formalized "bowing to partner" before beginning a technique and my Japanese beginners add the "onegaishimasu" during that. My foreign beginners just look a little stunned at the whole bowing thing (unless they've been in Japan for awhile).

I have also noticed that Yoshinkan children's classes have the kids yelling out "Onegaishimasu" at appropriate times. And, now that I think about it, my son's daycare events have the kids lining up and shouting "onegaishimasu" at appropriate times to each other and to the parents.

My son also says "onegai" meaning "please" when he wants something. And if I don't say yes immediately it becomes "onegai! onegai! onegai!".

I guess all this means is that I see "onegaishimasu" as being a significant part of Japanese society (like please/thank-you/excuse me) and is taught to kids as they grow up (like please/thank-you/excuse me) and since we're studying a Japanese martial art we're picking up on this stuff.

As to why its much more prevalent in Aikikai than Yoshinkan...I haven't a clue. Maybe it's because us Yoshinkan types use "Osu!" to cover a zillion meanings that include all those covered by "Onegaishimasu" and we wouldn't want to be inefficient in our use of language <grin>.




Berney Fulcher 08-07-2004 07:18 AM

Re: Onegaishimasu
There seem to be a lot of Japanese phrases that are used very widely. I'm finding it hard to get a cross cultural/language handle on this. For instance in Aikido, it seems like "Onegaishimasu", "Hai", "Osu" are used a lot in a lot of very different situations.

I'm not sure if this question makes sense, but are there equivalent English / American phrases that would be similarly used? I'm just trying to get a gut level comparison that my mind can wrap itself around...

Lyle Laizure 08-08-2004 09:59 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
Onegaishimasu as it was explained to me mean "please, I ask a favor of you" Specifically between practice partners it's sub meaning is that I am offering you my body to use as a training tool please don't abuse it. Between sensei and student I would assume it would mean the same.

batemanb 08-10-2004 01:30 AM

Re: Onegaishimasu
Tossing into the melting pot, I was taught that "Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu" is translated as "please do me a favour", or "please look kindly on me". "Onegaishimasu" is the shortened version but is used in the context "please look kindly on me". When I was in Japan, at my local dojo everyone said "onegaishimasu" at the first rei, and every time you started to work with a new partner (which was each new technique). At the Kobe dojo I visit often, they have the same formality. At the Aikikai Hombu, the same, but you stick with the same partner, my memory is fuzzy here, but I recollect saying it for each technique, but that may just have been me.

I don't recollect anywhere that seniors didn't say to juniors in normal practice, but I do recollect that if you partnered up with someone of a high level (6th Dan upwards), some of the Shihan just bowed, the onegai if said, was inaudible.

If we were changing partners, we would say "arigato gozaimasu" at the end of training with each partner.



Robert Cheshire 08-11-2004 07:45 AM

Re: Onegaishimasu
We use this phrase in Yoseikan too. I have always been taught, and as a result teach, that it means "please show/teach me." It is said by both individuals (senior and junior) because both can offer a teaching experience to the other. Obviously, the senior can teach the "technique" to the junior. However, (I think this is sometimes overlooked) the junior can provide the senior a new way to learn how to teach the technique. There are people that have limitations (skill, age, physical handicaps, etc.) where the technique must be taught a little differently than the "traditional" way. Simply said it is (should be at least) a reciprocal relationship. At the end of training we add the formal Japanese "thank you" for the same reasons - thank you for what you have just showed/taught me.

Ron Tisdale 08-11-2004 08:10 AM

Re: Onegaishimasu
Thank you all for your continued responses...I've learned a bunch!


Josh Reyer 03-03-2007 10:10 AM

Re: Onegaishimasu
"Onegai shimasu" is one of those phrases that are a completely normal part of everyday Japanese culture that can sometimes be mystified and grandified beyond it's rather mundane usage.

First, a little linguistic background. As Jun mentioned in his linked post, "o + verb stem + suru (shimasu in this case)" is kenjougo, or "humble speech". One uses humble speech to indicate lower status, and/or modesty. However, "onegai shimasu" is so commonly used in everyday speech that it's actually moved to a different sphere. Rather than carrying connotations of modesty or lower status, it's more like teineigo, "polite speech". It's used in contexts when we'd use "Please", "Thanks," and "I'd appreciate it." For an example of the last two, my boss will frequently say, "You have to do A, B, and C. Onegai shimasu." My aikido sensei will say, "Everyone make sure you've paid the monthly dues! Onegai shimasu." Here the phrase has less literal meaning (sensei isn't saying "I humbly request your monthly dues,") it's more like a general softener tacked on to requests and orders.

Here's an example from our weekly meetings.
Manager: "Miitingu wo hajimemasu." (We'll begin the meeting.)
Us: "Onegai shimasu." (bowing in our seats)
Manager: "Onegai shimasu."

Here, again, the "onegai shimasu"es don't really have a specific meaning. We're not really saying "We humbly request that you do begin the meeting" (and the manager saying, "I humbly request your attention). The manager simply announces the beginning of the meeting, and our "onegai shimasu" is just an acknowledgment of that, and if anything marks a certain change in "kamae", from relaxing and joking before the meeting to being attentive and focused during the meeting. The manager's "onegai shimasu" is just a reflexive response (typically she's not even looking at us, but going over her notes or something). The meeting ends and everyone says, "Arigatou gozaimashita".

This is almost exactly the case in the dojo. Or at least my dojo. We sit in seiza, waiting for the sensei to begin the class. He comes over, kneels down, talks about some related business (upcoming testing, new member introductions, perhaps an acknowledgment of someone who's come for the first time in a while, etc.) and then bows and said "Jaa, hajimemasu. Onegai shimasu." We bow, say "Onegai shimasu" (except this is a dojo, so it's more like, "Ngai shmassss") and then right into tai no henko. Again, here they essentially mark the beginning of class, and acknowledgment of that and change of focus.

Likewise, the "onegai shimasu" between two students who are about to practice doesn't carry precise meaning (aside from maybe "Please be my partner"), and in my dojo, at least, is completely divorced from rank. Whoever notices the other person first is the first to say it, regardless of sempai-kohai. It's essentially an attention-getter/signal of change in attitude.

Another example outside of aikido: you'll see almost all interviews on TV/radio begin with mutual "onegai shimasu"es.

crbateman 03-03-2007 10:57 AM

Re: Onegaishimasu
Japanese is all Greek to me :D , but I have often wondered why, if "onegai shimasu" is supposed to be a formal statement in this context, should not "onegai shimashita" be used? My limited training has imparted that the "-masu" verbs are informal, and the "-mashita" verbs are formal. (Of course, I have also learned that there are seemingly infinite exceptions to this type of grammatical "rule". I think I'll stick to English. I have a hard enough time with that. ;)

Josh Reyer 03-03-2007 11:57 AM

Re: Onegaishimasu

Clark Bateman wrote: (Post 170524)
Japanese is all Greek to me :D , but I have often wondered why, if "onegai shimasu" is supposed to be a formal statement in this context, should not "onegai shimashita" be used? My limited training has imparted that the "-masu" verbs are informal, and the "-mashita" verbs are formal. (Of course, I have also learned that there are seemingly infinite exceptions to this type of grammatical "rule". I think I'll stick to English. I have a hard enough time with that. ;)

Actually, "-masu" and "-mashita" forms are polite/formal. The former is the imperfective (present and future tense), and the latter the perfective (past tense). "Onegai shimasu" - "I make/will make a humble request." "Onegai shimashita" - "I made a humble request."

crbateman 03-03-2007 12:17 PM

Re: Onegaishimasu
So "arigato gozaimasu" is "thank you" and "arigato gozaimashita" is "thanked you"??? Now you know why this poor ole country boy gave up...:confused: Returning now to my Jeff Foxworthy picture book...

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:29 AM.

Powered by: vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.