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Old 06-25-2009, 06:33 AM   #20
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,221
Re: How to address a Shihan, Sempai, or Sensei?

Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Some say using "shi" when addressing an individual with that title is bad luck, or even disrespectful. I don't know if that holds true with "Shihan" or directly addressing one as such ('shi' having some relationship to death, from what I've been told).
Wait a minute. Who told you?

There are (at least) 163 Chinese characters read in Japanese as SHI--and the meanings are all different.
Shihan (師範) as a compound has nothing to do with death and I have heard eminent aikido teachers addressed as "Shihan".

It is also customary to refer to individuals as SHI 氏, also read as uji (clan). As a professor, I was sometimes responsible for recommending colleagues for promotion within the university system. The accepted way of referring to the person I was recommending was 'Xxxxxx-shi' (氏). However, just as a sensei NEVER refers to himself or herself as 'Sensei', or 'Xxxxxx-Sensei', one never addresses someone by calling him or her 'Xxxxx-shi.'

Thus there are some websites and blogs where the term Sensei is used incorrectly. Of course, one can argue that the term is being used outside Japan and is therefore separated from its cultural context. I find this argument unconvincing and suggest the term, Teacher, uttered in the same reverential tones that Silas used in The Da Vinci Code, when he addressed the person he never knew.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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