Re: What's in a name? sensei, shihan, etc.
Graham said, "Meanwhile, on visiting a friends class it was more him turning with a 'Yo.....what's happening dude?'"
Yes, that's my class. Southeast Texas, southern hospitality and a "different" kind of respect and formality.
I don't see so well, so the ears have picked up in that way they do. I've been on the mat with my class, and I can recall a conversation from my dojo last week where one of my shodans I'm working with will say after a correction/suggestion by me, "Whoa! thank's, man! That really helped!" and there's no hint of disrespect intended or taken.
Meanwhile across the mat, a 1st kyu brown belt speaking to a new white belt is saying, "The way Sensei Powell wishes for us to do this to start out is like this..." [demonstrates] "but, when you see him do it later, I can't do it the way Sensei does, but it looks all flowy and stuff, more like ..." [demonstrates] Reply from white belt: "So, when Mr. Powell does things, he does them differently from how he wants us to do them?" [laughter from brown belt] "Well, Sensei says that we'll get there in our own time, he just took a long time and bounced off a lot of sharp edges to get where he is, but I can tell it's working."
The second one had enough "Sensei" and "Mr." in it to make me feel a little ... odd, as I don't insist on that sort of thing. It just wasn't how I was brought up. I was taught that it was courteous to offer your first name to people when you met them, and it was courteous to remember theirs and use it as it meant that you valued them as people. Rather than disrespect, it WAS respect to do so.
Now... I did spend a sting in traditional and American taekwondo in the kick-punch days, and the Korean traditions, as carried into the States have a serious edge of respect-police and title-gestapo, I can honestly report that. But, while I was in it with everyone else, it was no big deal to refer to everyone as Mr. Such and Ms. so-and-so, though it was interesting to be expected to call some whiz-bang 8 year old black belt "Mr." Just seemed weird and a bit comical, but the kid was fantastically gifted, so perhaps he did earn it and was worthy? Above my pay grade.