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Old 08-25-2009, 03:08 PM   #72
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Join Date: Sep 2004
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

A couple articles of interest;

What about the sempai (senior) and kohai (junior) system in martial arts?
These are other terms we donĄt really use in Shindo Yoshin-ryu. They are terms more common to modern martial arts. These concepts are actually more recent and used as a tool for the enforcement of discipline within a large group of conscripted military personnel. In karate dojos with military-like discipline, this system is often strictly enforced to the point of cruelty. I even see the sempai-kohai system enforced to an unhealthy level in some aikido dojos. In the military, it may be a positive thing to make the chain of command obvious and assure a cohesive group mentality, but remember that samurai were not a conscripted army. The group dynamic of a samurai clan was very different from that of a modern army. The same is true for a bujutsu dojo‹it is not the army. Do we need this sort of system in the dojo? Not my dojo! I do not need to bark, "Osu" at my students or wish them to respond with group shouts. This is not really useful in a true bujutsu dojo. The training and responsibility of students is much more personalized. Is there obvious seniority in the Takamura-ha bujutsu dojo? Yes and no. We have no rank and no specific uniform that demonstrates seniority. No one is asked to do any task that I or other teachers do not perform often ourselves. We do line up in the dojo according to experience and issue licenses. If you attend one of our dojos you will quickly figure out who is senior and who is junior without the instructor barking orders at anyone or watching who cleans the toilet. Barking orders at enlisted men in the military may serve some positive purpose, but I train students to be thinking leaders and not ardent followers.

Last edited by akiy : 08-25-2009 at 04:08 PM.
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