Rich Stephens wrote:
A democratic Aikido dojo is also an interesting concept. If you have removed something as fundamental as the sensei - student, sempai - kohai relationships, is there anything still Japanese about your practice? Or has it been completely stripped of its origin and Americanized?
I don't think so. I refer to each instructor in our dojo by their first names. However, before our late Japanese sensei passed away four years ago, we always referred to him as Sensei. I think it is more that none of the instructors feel they could ever replace our late Sensei, and so aren't comfortable with that term. Besides that, our dojo is about as traditional as any American dojo could get without being perceived as too contrived or "too Japanese." But we are also still democratic in many ways.
However, we still refer to any visiting shihan as <last name> followed by Sensei though, and when speaking to them, call them Sensei. FWIW.