Ya see Rock, that's what we been trying to tell ya. It just doesn't work well outside of Japan.
Actually,. it has worked very well in all the Dojos in which I taught. The Dojo which I was referring to above, I am not the Sensei. I am just the visiting Chief Instructor for that federation (WIAF). The lack of a strong Sempai/Kohai relationship to which I refer is due to the fact that the Dojo is shared with a Karate Dojo and the relationships get mixed upn between the people through the separation of arts. As far as the Aikido people in the WIAF go, they performed marvelously and got everything done that they had to. They have a strong Sempai/Kohai relationship. The problems occurred due to confusion as to who was responsible for what, what things one group could do without the asking permission of the other group, and who to ask about getting certain things done. Because of the lack of a strong organization in the Karate side, some things went haywire. The Karate teacher is very good but his organization is structured strictly around himself without a Sempai/Kohai structure around that. As such, when he was not there, the other Karate students could not answer questions nor say who was in charge. Therefore, some things could not get done.
Overall, the Jamaica seminar, demonstrations, and formal presentations went very well. Much better than anyone ever expected. We were able to cover our deficiencies and perform in a was that the flaws were not evident. However, I knew they were there. I guess I expect perfection in these matters.
Well, the point is that in my experience, the strong Sempai/Kohai structure I create in my Dojos by making everyone responsible for their own Kohai, seems to have worked very well. Yes, situations have arisen where someone did not care for their Kohai well enough and that Kohai had to go to the Dai-Sempai to get a problem resolved. However, hardly any problem ever had to come up to me to be resolved. Only things which even the Dai-Sempai could not resolve came to me. So I think it worked very well. It let people know their responsibilities and made sure people were looked after, and it made sure that my time was spent largely on instruction rather than looking after things in the Dojo.
The nature of the relationship can be very formal, very relaxed, abusive, caring, one-dimensional, or multi-facetted. It is up to the people who create it. As Peter says, at his Dojo, there is a very informal relationship which does not work like most other Sempai/Kohai systems in Japan. However, Peter, you cannot dispute that there is a relationship among the members of the Dojo and that there is a hierarchy among the relationships. In that sense, there is a Sempai/Kohai system in your Dojo, even though it is not like the one that everyone imagines as being typically Japanese. Maybe I shouldn't use the term Sempai/Kohai System since I don't use it in this very limited fashion. Perhaps I should say a hierarchical system of interpersonal relationships based on a hierarchical pattern of mutual responsibility and authority which is governed by the hierarchical structure within the Dojo based on either technical, social, and/or age differences. However, that is just too long for me and the Sempai/Kohai relationship works easier.