Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
Do you mean that Japanese teachers deserve more respect than non-Japanese? And that non-Japanese should have at least 30-40 years experience before they deserve this title off the mats?
I'm not answering for Jun, but I don't think that's quite how he meant it. I was/ am going to write something similar.
Here in the UK, I have always called everyone at the dojo by their first name on and off the mat, that includes visiting sensei. This is not done out of disrespect, it's just the culture in our dojo.
When I was living in Japan, Sensei was always referred to as Sensei, both on and off the mat. There were in fact more than one in our association, so we usually referred to them as "surname" sensei. I don't recall anyone being called shihan (except during announcements at the All Japan Embutaikai), the only other title I heard (apart from Doshu) was kaicho, and that was reserved for the founder of our association, he is usually referred to as Kaicho, although sensei is equally acceptable.
Going back to what Jun was saying, my take on it is that it is a cultural thing mixed with personal comfort. I feel quite happy referring to a Japanese sensei as "sensei", however, despite the fact that we are studying a Japanese art, I don't always feel comfortable referring to a wester sensei as such. That's not to say that it doesn't slip out from time to time, I just avoid using the term back home if possible.