...guess I better cancel my business card order which states
"Sensei Nick Pittson".
I think, maybe, we in the west have begun applying the same rules we use for, say, doctors; though I personally find it ludicrous, it seems fine that if you meet someone who introduces themselves as "Doctor Smith" in instead of Mr. or Mrs. Smith, it is quite acceptable.
Why on earth would one care so deeply what titles they have earned, when what others will want is your NAME, not your title.
I for one do not think of my doctor or lawyer friends as Doctor or Esquire (or whatever the title is) so-and-so. In fact, if someone corrects me when I address them with mentioning their title I respect them less, and no longer address them by name. In fact, I try and have as little to do with them from then on.
Rant finished. Back on topic.
Monday, as I led class in the teachers absence, a newer student to our school (shodan in karate) addressed me as sensei on his way out the door. I did not have time to correct him, though I would have liked to, and if the opportunity presents itself I will. On the other hand, its just an honorific that he chose to use, I imagine out of respect and/or etiquette.
Am I flattered? Maybe a little. Was I a little embarrassed in front of the other students? A bit. Would I have been embarrassed if my teacher was within earshot? Yes, very much so.
In many ways, we are all senseis, and at the same time we are always students. Act accordingly.
~edit: I have immense respect for doctors and lawyers, but not because of the title they carry; it is because, like anyone else without a title, I respect the person because of their character.