Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > General

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 01-08-2008, 10:01 AM   #26
mathewjgano
 
mathewjgano's Avatar
Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
Location: Renton
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,114
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
So here's a spinoff question: how many people think that sempai means "someone senior to me" and kohai means "someone junior to me", and how many people think they mean...something else?
To answer your question: yes.
Reading my kanji dictionary, those are what are listed as the meaning...but, I can see where they might carry different connotations depending upon the situation.
I think basically they're terms meant to mark experience. One moment I may be the "authority," the next it may be someone else.

How would you answer it?
Take care,
Matt

Last edited by mathewjgano : 01-08-2008 at 10:03 AM.

Gambarimashyo!
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2008, 11:00 AM   #27
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,828
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
How would you answer it?
I've heard it used several different ways. One way is simply as "senior" and "junior", which could be by no more than a day -- not a really meaningful term, except when you're figuring out who sits to the left of who when you line up. Another way is as senior enough where they would have relevant clues to impart to you, or junior enough where you might have something to say that would help them. This is more useful, but I prefer a third usage, where "sempai" isn't just someone who is senior enough to mentor you, but who actively does so -- your sempai is/are those senior students who take the trouble to teach you, guide you and look out for you.

I've got two people who answer this description in my current dojo. Neither is the highest ranking student there (one's shodan, one's nidan), but among the yudansha, they're the ones who have extended themselves to help me, push me, lead me on to more challenging things and hold me to a higher standard. One has a particular affinity for weapons, and since I have prior weapons training in a different style, he usually works with me when we partner off and takes me a bit further through the kata than I would probably get otherwise. The other spent hours, literally hours, after class every week through last summer, helping me and others prepare for our upcoming kyu test. They encourage, they push, they know what I can and can't do (and what I should be doing next). In short...they're a lot more than the people who sit to the left of me in line.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2008, 12:16 PM   #28
CarrieP
 
CarrieP's Avatar
Location: Michigan
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 100
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Going back to an earlier part of the thread:

What is meant by "tanking?" I'm a "noob," and am not getting the full meaning of the phrase from context.

Thanks.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2008, 01:39 PM   #29
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 614
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I've heard it used several different ways. One way is simply as "senior" and "junior", which could be by no more than a day -- not a really meaningful term, except when you're figuring out who sits to the left of who when you line up. Another way is as senior enough where they would have relevant clues to impart to you, or junior enough where you might have something to say that would help them. This is more useful, but I prefer a third usage, where "sempai" isn't just someone who is senior enough to mentor you, but who actively does so -- your sempai is/are those senior students who take the trouble to teach you, guide you and look out for you.

I've got two people who answer this description in my current dojo. Neither is the highest ranking student there (one's shodan, one's nidan), but among the yudansha, they're the ones who have extended themselves to help me, push me, lead me on to more challenging things and hold me to a higher standard. One has a particular affinity for weapons, and since I have prior weapons training in a different style, he usually works with me when we partner off and takes me a bit further through the kata than I would probably get otherwise. The other spent hours, literally hours, after class every week through last summer, helping me and others prepare for our upcoming kyu test. They encourage, they push, they know what I can and can't do (and what I should be doing next). In short...they're a lot more than the people who sit to the left of me in line.
Mary,

The technical denotation is as narrow as you have it up front.

What you go on to describe is what exemplary sempai do for their kohai.

That you have two such sempai is your great good fortune.

Best,

FL
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2008, 07:14 PM   #30
ChS_23
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 31
Germany
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Hmm. Well, neither of you quite answered my question. What I was asking, simply, was: do you believe that anyone senior to you is "sempai" and anyone junior to you is "kohai"?
I don't have a good feeling helping you to hijack this thread, but OK:

Sempai is someone who "went through the door before you did". It has nothing to do with age or rank. You could only speak of experience.

One interesting point: The person who has started with you is also classified sempai.

If you search for something which includes age, you have to go back to the roots of the word sensei. But the regular meaning can be found in the wiki...
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2008, 09:00 PM   #31
Joseph Madden
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 160
Canada
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Hmm. Well, neither of you quite answered my question. What I was asking, simply, was: do you believe that anyone senior to you is "sempai" and anyone junior to you is "kohai"?
Hmmm... I thought I answered your original question. My answer is no.
Although a certain level of respect is expected with whoever went through the door first, that does not necessarily mean that the senior student is going to know more or lead the way. Some kohai may have a level of understanding that sempai lacks in his/her self. And vice versa. Since the way is fostered through mutual understanding and trust as Kevin pointed out so succinctly, there needs to be give and take on both sides. We learn together. If we want to.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2008, 09:04 PM   #32
mathewjgano
 
mathewjgano's Avatar
Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
Location: Renton
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,114
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Carolyn Parkinson wrote: View Post
Going back to an earlier part of the thread:

What is meant by "tanking?" I'm a "noob," and am not getting the full meaning of the phrase from context.

Thanks.
Heheheh! Tanking refers to falling or otherwise giving in to a technique a little too easily.

Gambarimashyo!
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2008, 09:39 PM   #33
akiy
 
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 5,854
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Christian Schnarr wrote: View Post
One interesting point: The person who has started with you is also classified sempai.
Usually in Japanese culture with which I am personally familiar, a person who started with you (or is in the same grade in school) would be considered a douhai 同輩. I'm not aware of a situation where someone who is your contemporary/colleague would be considered as sempai.

-- Jun

Please help support AikiWeb -- become an AikiWeb Contributing Member!
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2008, 09:45 PM   #34
Kevin Leavitt
 
Kevin Leavitt's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia
Location: Stuttgart, Baden Wurttemberg
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Germany
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Mary wrote:

Quote:
Hmm. Well, neither of you quite answered my question. What I was asking, simply, was: do you believe that anyone senior to you is "sempai" and anyone junior to you is "kohai"?
I am not sure of the literal definition. However, based on my understanding and definition of sempai/kohai, no.

I did actually think I answered the question. Answer (see post #24). There is more involved in the relationship than simply seniority. There is an obligation, acceptance, service, and responsibility that go along with being a senior.

In my old karate dojo, we formally (or informally) would form a sempai/kohai relationship. Sempai was responsible for meeting with kohai outside of normal practice, before class, after class, and also working with them during class to ensure that they were "on track" and doing fine. Sempai had an obligation to ensure that kohai developed and progressed.

I think the same is true, if not formally, in spirit. There is much more than simply seniority.

  Reply With Quote
Old 01-09-2008, 09:03 AM   #35
mathewjgano
 
mathewjgano's Avatar
Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
Location: Renton
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,114
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Mary wrote: There is more involved in the relationship than simply seniority. There is an obligation, acceptance, service, and responsibility that go along with being a senior.

In my old karate dojo, we formally (or informally) would form a sempai/kohai relationship. Sempai was responsible for meeting with kohai outside of normal practice, before class, after class, and also working with them during class to ensure that they were "on track" and doing fine. Sempai had an obligation to ensure that kohai developed and progressed.

I think the same is true, if not formally, in spirit. There is much more than simply seniority.
I think it's this obligation, kind of like an older brother who cares for his siblings, which has been one of the more interesting elements of my own training. Personally, it's made my dojo feel more like a home than some remote location for learning things and I think that adds something pretty special. Both of the dojos I've spent any real time at had this feeling for me. I think this ties into what you were saying ealier about trust because it's often that kind of thing which has kept me training when I wasn't as motivated, which has hit me pretty hard at one time or another.
As a student, this has made me want to be more active in helping my kohai (particularly after digesting so much of what has been expressed in this thread!). Having received so much from some pretty great folks instills in me a sense of that obligation to pay it forward. On a side note, dojos can be pretty facinating societal microcosms. It would be nice to see more of the kind of things we're talking about here expressed in the "regular" world. I've rarely been in a work environment where nurturing the development of a coworker was taken so seriously...the construction field being perhaps the exception. There's something about having a craft and passing it along to the newer generation.
Anyhoo...
Take care,
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-09-2008, 09:58 AM   #36
Josh Reyer
 
Josh Reyer's Avatar
Location: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 644
Japan
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

In Japan, anyone senior to you is your sempai. Anyone junior to you is your kohai. As Japan is a tate-shakai -- a vertically-structured society -- this is always true, and it's immutable. You don't have to like your sempai, but if he joined before you did, he's your sempai and you're his kohai. Neither of you can not be.

This can be a bit disconcerting to western cultures, particularly in the U.S., I think. But for Japanese people, this is like a fish being in water. (Consider, for example, that Japanese has no word for simply "brother" or "sister". It is either "older brother" or "younger brother", "older sister" or "younger sister". The hierarchy is always explicit.) So in Japan, who's your sempai and who's your kohai is simply a matter of fact. You have sempai you are close to, and sempai you don't like, and kohai you especially look after, and kohai you're not particularly close to. Inherent in the relationship are certain societal obligations, but these largely extend to social ritual (who sits where, who pours whose drink, etc.) and can be as strong and meaningful (or not) as the relationship dictates.

What about a kohai who's older than you? A sempai younger than you? What about that kohai who passed you in rank? That sempai whom you have clearly surpassed in ability? Pshaw. Japanese people navigate these waters like in a motorboat in a pond on a calm day. Because the sempai/kohai relationship is always on, with everyone within the group, it's background noise. So these situations aren't complex at all. Granted, they may occasionally require finesse, but because all Japanese relationships are hierarchal, it's the kind of thing they deal with everyday.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-09-2008, 06:19 PM   #37
BilltheDestroyer
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 6
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Hmm. Well, neither of you quite answered my question. What I was asking, simply, was: do you believe that anyone senior to you is "sempai" and anyone junior to you is "kohai"?
Please verbally smite me if I'm wrong on this, but through my readings I have come to believe that the English definitions are as follows:

-Sempai is someone who was training at the dojo prior to your own joining.

-Dohai is someone who started on the same day.

-Kohai is someone who started after you.

On the other hand, like most things Japanese-turned-English, It implies more in its native land. It is considered a permanent title once given, no? If Joe is my Sempai and he leaves the dojo, and I continue to train, if he returns a dozen years later he is still my Sempai, despite my technical advancements.

This is, by my reckoning, the definition.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-09-2008, 07:41 PM   #38
mathewjgano
 
mathewjgano's Avatar
Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
Location: Renton
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,114
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Bill Landis wrote: View Post
Please verbally smite me if I'm wrong on this
Now THAT'S some serious kotodama!

Gambarimashyo!
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2008, 06:45 AM   #39
Josh Reyer
 
Josh Reyer's Avatar
Location: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 644
Japan
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Bill Landis wrote: View Post
Please verbally smite me if I'm wrong on this, but through my readings I have come to believe that the English definitions are as follows:

-Sempai is someone who was training at the dojo prior to your own joining.

-Dohai is someone who started on the same day.

-Kohai is someone who started after you.
That's pretty much the Japanese definition.

Quote:
It is considered a permanent title once given, no?
The thing is, it's not a title, it's a relationship. Whether it's a close relationship or distant depends on the people, but it's never "given", it just is.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2008, 10:20 AM   #40
Keith Larman
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,566
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Think taller vs. shorter. It just is. And when I say "taller" it is in reference to someone else. My 5'2" wife is taller than my 7-year-old daughter. I'm taller than both of them. My wife is shorter than me. My daughter is shorter than my wife. So taller is descriptive of me but only in relationship someone else.

Same with sempai and kohai. Sempai "started before" Kohai. Kohai "started after" Sempai. Nothing more, nothing less.

That said there is a separate discussion of what makes a "good sempai" as well as what makes a "good kohai". And that will vary from context to context. Some sempai have no desire to help out, just train, and can even be a royal PITA. They're still sempai. And in some contexts you might be "expected" to listen to their horrid advice simply because they're sempai. If that's the case, you smile, listen, nod your head and say "hai", then go do whatever it is that is expected of you. In other contexts the relationships may be more "democratic" if you will with the implied "authority of experience" less in evidence. So.... Just pay attention to your context and try to get along. It will vary depending on where you are.

Since I'm taller than my wife (back to my original analogy) I try to take care of putting the dry dishes away that go into the high shelves. As a "good" taller person I realize it is easier for me to do it than for her. As a "good" shorter person my wife will herself put away the other dishes in the lower shelves knowing I'm going to take care of the dishes up high allowing me to get my thing done.

But some days when I fail in my duties I wander into the kitchen and find all the dishes put away. I failed my duty as the "taller person". And if you ask my wife I fail my "taller duties" a bit too frequently...

  Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2008, 10:21 AM   #41
barron
Dojo: Calgary Aikikai
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 57
Canada
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

I agree with the commentts that have been made so far.

The most difficult partner is not the "noob" but the the partner who uses his/her strength to counter techniques . This does not allow one to learn the technique but becomes a battle of strength instead. Then the practice turns into an isometric workout.

The "nob" who moves differently from the "expected" teaches you how an non-practitioner would move.

That's my 2 cents worth.

Andrew Barron
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2008, 11:55 AM   #42
CarrieP
 
CarrieP's Avatar
Location: Michigan
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 100
United_States
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Heheheh! Tanking refers to falling or otherwise giving in to a technique a little too easily.
Ah. Thanks for the clarification!
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2008, 07:12 PM   #43
Joseph Madden
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 160
Canada
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

The fact is some seniors like to tank to. But they would never admit to it.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2008, 06:47 PM   #44
Nick P.
 
Nick P.'s Avatar
Dojo: Sukagawa Aikido Club of Montreal
Location: Montreal
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 639
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Think taller vs. shorter. It just is. And when I say "taller" it is in reference to someone else. My 5'2" wife is taller than my 7-year-old daughter. I'm taller than both of them. My wife is shorter than me. My daughter is shorter than my wife. So taller is descriptive of me but only in relationship someone else.

Same with sempai and kohai. Sempai "started before" Kohai. Kohai "started after" Sempai. Nothing more, nothing less.

That said there is a separate discussion of what makes a "good sempai" as well as what makes a "good kohai". And that will vary from context to context. Some sempai have no desire to help out, just train, and can even be a royal PITA. They're still sempai. And in some contexts you might be "expected" to listen to their horrid advice simply because they're sempai. If that's the case, you smile, listen, nod your head and say "hai", then go do whatever it is that is expected of you. In other contexts the relationships may be more "democratic" if you will with the implied "authority of experience" less in evidence. So.... Just pay attention to your context and try to get along. It will vary depending on where you are.

Since I'm taller than my wife (back to my original analogy) I try to take care of putting the dry dishes away that go into the high shelves. As a "good" taller person I realize it is easier for me to do it than for her. As a "good" shorter person my wife will herself put away the other dishes in the lower shelves knowing I'm going to take care of the dishes up high allowing me to get my thing done.

But some days when I fail in my duties I wander into the kitchen and find all the dishes put away. I failed my duty as the "taller person". And if you ask my wife I fail my "taller duties" a bit too frequently...
Agreed on all points, just never let your wife read that post; admitting your wrong is the last mistake you will ever make.
<I am allowed to say this as I too belong to the short wife/taller husband club; perhaps we should form a support group.>

  Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2008, 12:17 PM   #45
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,218
Offline
Re: Sempai kohai differences

It seems to be one of those questions that has the answer right there in it.

In gassho,

Mark

- Right combination works wonders -
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

Budo Bear Patterns - Sewing pattern for Women's (and Men's) dogi.



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Sensei? Sempai? Mona General 27 07-22-2008 06:17 PM
Scared Sempai Dario Rosati Training 38 11-07-2006 03:49 AM
Dojo loyalty or personal gain? Anonymous Anonymous 28 12-16-2004 05:26 PM
Mute Sempai Yo-Jimbo General 29 08-16-2000 02:09 AM
Mean Sempai BC Humor 2 08-11-2000 09:35 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:01 AM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate