You definitely are more sceptical about the Japanese ways then I am !
So if we would not incorporate the original sensei -semai - kohai structure how do you envision the direction to go?
I think with these terms (sensei
) it is not so much being skeptical as taking what you think you need and leaving the rest.
I have been living here for over thirty years and have developed my own intuitions about these terms, not from aikido training, but from being part of a large traditional Japanese organization like a national university. There all the terms are used and have their respective value, but the situations are very sharply defined. So you cannot have the terms without the context—the total context and you cannot focus on one aspect, like sempai
, and ignore the rest.
I have also been visiting the Netherlands on a regular basis for over thirty years to teach aikido. I have rarely heard any of the terms used, perhaps because I rarely use them myself, but also because they are not established as dojo terms. As others have mentioned, first names are regularly used and the addition of the title Sensei
is very much the exception.
On the other hand, from the posts by Adam Huss, I can see that the terms are in frequent use in his own dojo and they have value there. It is not my place to pass any judgment about this. I merely state that the situation is quite different in the two dojos in Hiroshima where I am the senior instructor and it has always been different in the main dojo here, where I have trained since I came here and where the senior instructor has 8th dan rank. He is almost always referred to as Dojo-cho; Sensei
is a title given to visiting shihans like Hiroshi Tada and sempai
never used outside the university aikido clubs, where there is a very specific context.
So I tend to have a similar way of thinking as Chris Li (except that I do not think I am skeptical). As for envisaging a future direction, well, things work very well here. But things also seem to work very well for Mr Huss and probably for you as well.