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Old 10-08-2008, 11:20 AM   #26
phitruong
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Quote:
Inocencio Maramba wrote: View Post

But anyone who starts using Filipino titles (Datu, Rajah, Sultan, etc) improperly would get a raised eyebrow from me (at very least)
the Sultan of Aiki. now that is a title that I can live with. wondering if I have aiki-harem to go with that.
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Old 10-08-2008, 11:23 AM   #27
Nick P.
 
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Quote:
Mathew McDowell wrote: View Post
Are you Japanese Inocencio Maramba? Would you be offended if I used Mato-san as my nic in this forum?
Offended? No.
Would I roll my eyes and shudder? Like I had stuck my finger in a socket.

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Old 10-08-2008, 11:58 AM   #28
CitoMaramba
 
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
the Sultan of Aiki. now that is a title that I can live with. wondering if I have aiki-harem to go with that.
Well, ya got the skirts... all ya need now are the veils

Inocencio Maramba, MD, MSc
Dangayan Singkaw Aikido Shinzui
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Old 10-09-2008, 02:56 PM   #29
AnniN
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

I usually call whoever is teaching the class Sensei on the mats, although I call my chief instructor always Sensei even off the mats cos it would just feel too weird to call him anything else! the assistant instructors I usually call by 1st name or [insert 1st name]-sensei to avoid confusion... Also, in seminars or such I'd call the seminar instructors Sensei and those who I know to be (chief?)instructors but are not teaching [insert 1st name]-sensei. So, if I was paired with a random dan-grade who I've never met before I suppose I'd initially call them just by first name...Saying [insert SURNAME]-sensei somehow feels too stiff and formal so I never do that
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Old 10-11-2008, 05:32 AM   #30
Patrick O'Regan
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Their is no such thing as a simple question in Aikido!

We call 4th dan and above sensei on the mat. We would usually call who ever is teaching the class sensei. We address our very senior teachers sensei on and off the mat. Not only as a sign of respect but as a reminder of there responsibly to us!

Our country highly values egalitarianism which can led to a casualness around titles...so it takes a bit of getting used to.

Paddy
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Old 10-12-2008, 03:59 AM   #31
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Quote:
Inocencio Maramba wrote: View Post
Japanese Honorifics are not meant to be self-applied (as far as I know)
To call oneself <name>-san, or <name>-sensei is regarded as quite pompous.
Respect is earned, not self given.
This is 100% correct. Confusing Sensei with Doctor or Professor comes from a misunderstanding of Japanese culture. The 2 western terms are given from a governing body down. Sensei is given from someone lower to someone above.

Charles
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Old 10-12-2008, 09:01 AM   #32
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

There is only one Sensei in a Dojo. Outside the Dojo, you might any number of people "Sensei," but that can be a problem as well. I don't like people calling me Sensei unless I am teaching the class by the request of the Dojo's Sensei. In that instance, I am the Sensei of the Dojo's Shihan-dai (assuming that the Dojo's Shihan-dai is also the Sensei of that Dojo which is not always the case). Thus, by inference, I could then be called Sensei by the students of my student. However, when I visit other Dojos to practice, I will insist that I am not called Sensei until outside the Dojo. Being a Sensei brings certain responsibiliities with it that I do not willingly accept under all circumstances. From an article I wrote many years ago:
***************************************
The ability to call someone "sensei" is sometimes used in Japan as a strategy to attain dependence on someone. I recently posted a small note about a movie in which an elder gentleman kept refusing the title of sifu. This is because the sensei or sifu has
certain responsibilities towards the student. By allowing yourself to be called sensei, you are acknowledging your responsibilities towards that student. So sometimes, Japanese use the term sensei to force others to act in a certain way towards them.

This reminds me of a story of a samurai who was a very good swordsman, but one that knew his limitations. Another samurai who wished to challenge him came over to pick a fight. The first samurai who, guessing from the reputation of the aggressive fighter that it would be a close duel, decided not to agree to the challenge, instead called the fighter "sensei," also guessing that the fighter was rather vain. The fighter could not pass up the chance to be acknowledged as the sensei accepted the title. The original, pacificist samurai then asked if the sensei would accept him as a student. The fighter realized he was trapped and then had to agree such that the duel was avoided.

The moral of the story is: "Be careful who you let call you sensei."
*****************************************
To answer this question, I have to go back to the role of the Sensei in the Dojo. The Sensei is not only the chief instructor, she or he is also the person ultimately responsible for the safety and well-being of all the students as well as of the Dojo. If you ever think about becoming a Sensei, think of this. If a student is injured and no one
volunteers to take the injured person to the hospital, Sensei must do it. Even if someone else does volunteer, Sensei should still go to the hospital with the student and wait.

Perhaps Sensei might send the Dai Sempai with the injured student and go to the hospital after class is over. If the Dojo runs out of money for rent, Sensei must pay for it out of his or her own pocket. If a student has a personal problem, the student will probably come to Sensei for advice. If a student gets into trouble with the law, it is up to Sensei to go and help. If people have interpersonal problems in the Dojo, it is up to Sensei to resolve it. The Sensei is responsible for everything in the Dojo. Even if some
student is assigned to keep the books, if that student makes a mistake or does not fulfill their responsibilities, it is up to the Sensei to make things right. If the Dojo needs maintenance and the students do not take care of it before Sensei asks, it is up to Sensei to get it done, cleaning the toilets, washing the floors, ceiling, and walls or changing the light bulbs. If the students are not taking care of business, then Sensei is responsible for doing it since it is Sensei's fault that the students didn't learn their
responsibilities well enough. The Sensei must teach the students to develop their ethics and common sense (Toku-iku and Joshiki-no-Kanyo) as well as their body and spirit (Tai-iku and Ki-iku).
*********************************

Rock
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Old 10-12-2008, 12:17 PM   #33
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Rocky's response is right on, from start to finish!
Let me add a couple of more pieces. In koryu circles, you are only required to call a person in direct line with you sensei. For example, my teacher is X and his teacher is Y. I would call X and Y sensei. However, Y has another student, Z, senior to X. I am NOT expected to call Z sensei. He or she is an uncle/aunt, not in direct line.
Now, I COULD call them sensei if I want to offer them respect. (Or in covert irony, because they are a pompous ass). But unless my teacher X is totally on board with that, calling his senior (Z), "sensei" puts him in a bad light. My sensei, traditionally, is the direct conduit to knowledge, and calling someone else sensei could indicate that I assume someone else has what he does not. How would I know what my teacher wants (because my teacher won't tell me)? Kan (intuition). This is training - when you pick up the unconscious or unsaid wishes and intentions of another, you are training exactly the kind of things that are essential in swordmanship.
A couple of other nuances:
When I trained at the Aikikai, I called all the teachers "sensei," except Shibata, (then 4th dan), Seki (then 4th dan), Yasuno (then 4th dan) and Miyamoto (then 3rd dan). Although they were seniors to me, they were apprentices - so they were "san." Others called them sensei - I did not, and none of them batted an eye. BTW - Yokota was junior to me in Kuroiwa's dojo before he became a deshi at the Aikikai, and he was "kun" to me - a diminuative, used for a younger friend. However, unless we had maintained a relationship over the years, I would not call him "kun" were I to see him today.
Were I taking class with one of them today, it would be a judgement call. Technically, as our relationship was a "san" relationship, that would continue. BUT - a) if, after thirty years, they did not remember me - very likely - it would be jarring b) if they had not made a point in front of the students to greet me as an "equal," a long-departed friend, it would also be jarring, because to them, an unknown was treated the teacher too familiarly. So in such a case, I would, on the mat, use "sensei."
Were I to meet any such person, and not be taking a class, I would not call them "sensei." And particularly for those of equal or lesser years, I would expect them be presented with the dilemma as to whether they should call me "sensei" as well. (That was one of the most enjoyable and fascinating dances at the various Aiki Expos - sometimes being called "sensei" by someone because they had to - they thought - and they tried to patronize me in the process, and others who were delighted to find someone that in their lights was as real as their own ideals, and they happily called me sensei as I did them). Other teachers, I called "san" because they were junior to me in years, rank, or clearly in skill. (see "arrogance" below).
One final nuance - Terry Dobson was, for many years, associated with Saotome Mitsugi. Terry was kohai (junior) to Saotome by a few years at the Aikikai. He called him sensei for the years they were associated in the States. I used to argue with him about this, because that defined him, in everyone's eyes, as Saotome's student, and that fundamentally changed how Terry was viewed. His choice, his karma, but his mistake, because it undermined his own lifestory.
I have been friends with some shihan and referred to them as "san," in all circles - humility can be taken too far, and arrogance is also part of the martial arts. I was saying to such men - "you are used to all Caucasians being craven and obsequious, calling you sensei by merit not of who you are, but simply that you are Asian and a martial artist and have a high rank. But you and I are equals - at minimum. If you have an objection to that, let me know."
The choice of the word defines who you are, sometimes.

Best

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 10-12-2008 at 12:31 PM.

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Old 10-12-2008, 05:35 PM   #34
Buck
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

You know I think the word and this discussion on "sensei" is really informative.

A word given too much weight, a word that carries weight, a word that let's everyone know who is in charge, who to come to, who has the knowledge. So many variants of a word or a title.

In the white collar professional world you call those in management above you boss, and if you are a manager you call fewer people boss unless your at the top, everyone calls you boss.

In the world of education, only one persons per class is called teacher. And everyone else who is hired as a teacher.

In the culinary world, where you work in a kitchen everyone is called Chef. Yet, everyone in the kitchen knows whose boss.

Who do I call sensei, anyone one of shodan and above who is designated to teach the class. Or anyone you request that I do. As for Japanese who out rank me, by default until I am corrected.

If the word sensei goes to someone's head I can't stop that, I can't control that. If they become cavalier about it, it tells me allot about that person and maybe I shouldn't learn from that person, and I just concentrate on myself. I look for those who are genuine in their teaching, as I am genuine in my learning.

Last edited by Buck : 10-12-2008 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 10-12-2008, 06:16 PM   #35
Fred Little
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
In the culinary world, where you work in a kitchen everyone is called Chef. Yet, everyone in the kitchen knows whose boss.
In some culinary worlds, perhaps.

Where I worked, there was one individual referred to as "chef" by everyone who worked in the kitchen. Among the more printable titles used for other kitchen workers for one another were "dirtbag" or "cabron."

On the other hand, it is true that just about anyone working in the kitchen might be addressed as "chef" by front of the house staff who were looking for favors. But then, they were a) front of the house staff b) looking for favors and c) professional flatterers.

YMMV,

FL
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Old 10-12-2008, 07:36 PM   #36
Buck
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Fred,

So that is how it works , and here I thought it was just Chef , I really have to get out more.

I am sure the flattery and favors, which where I work is called..brownnosing and buttkissing to put it politely. Does apply to the Aikido world with addressing someone by sensei am sure.

Ellis also mentioned ego and sensei, I thought about it you also have to add students for reason of their own-which aren't important- who are heroworshiping or role-playing the Japanese culture who call any one sensei because it fits into that role playing or heroworship/Japaneseworship experience. I know this because I was at one time one such student. And being one such student, I knew all those who where just like me at the time, I could spot them a mile away. Birds of a feather flock together.

I am sure it can really be a huge ego booster to anyone to have several or more students running up to you calling you sensei like in that Tampopo movie that parodies the samurai/martial arts culture. Especially, when your not use to it and its not a big deal back at your home dojo, etc.

I guess maybe titles like sensei are over-rated as a result lose the core effect and purpose of denoting respect, i.e. you empty your cup, you just don't verbally diss the guy who is trying to teach you so you get dojo cred. and all the students look to you as the big shot on campus, etc.

A friend who is a school teacher said is was critical to control the classroom and have that presence. Otherwise all the students walk all over you. Yet I think anything or position can be abused by the right people.

I don't know. That is my view.

Last edited by Buck : 10-12-2008 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 10-13-2008, 12:14 AM   #37
judojo
 
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Dear Senseis, I was amazed by this topics especially when the friend of mine is equal with my Aikido rank as San Dan but of different discipline and Dojo, because Eufracio C. Bala, He belongs to Tapondo Aikido and me of Shodokan Aikido but I respect his standing as a teacher. I love to have knowledge from Nippon Aikidos but this is self worth the study and I love you all. But I apply the International Aikido Reige and Laws. From, Reynaldo L. Albano

REYNALDO L. ALBAÑO
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Old 02-14-2011, 05:39 AM   #38
Alex Megann
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

I had a funny experience in Waitrose (a local supermarket) a while ago. I guessed that one of the cashiers was Japanese from her appearance and accent, and when she returned my credit card to me I held both hands out, palms up, as if someone had passed me a weapon, and bowed my head slightly. She automatically said something in Japanese in response, which ended in "sensei". It felt very natural at the time, but by the time I got back to the car I started to see the funny side of it.

When I was in Tokyo a few years ago, the stallholders under Shinjuku station were all calling out to potential customers as "sensei"; and when I used to go to a Japanese osteopath I always addressed him the same way. I understand that in the context of Japanese culture it is used as a general expression of respect for someone's experience and seniority.

My feeling is that, in the dojo, there are no fixed rules for whom to call "sensei": from my experience I think I know when it is right to do so. Normally I address whoever is teaching the class as "sensei", even if I would use their first name to their face outside. Outside the dojo it feels natural to hail Japanese teachers as "sensei", but not non-Japanese.

Inconsistent? Perhaps.

Alex
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Old 02-14-2011, 08:43 PM   #39
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
I had a funny experience in Waitrose (a local supermarket) a while ago. I guessed that one of the cashiers was Japanese from her appearance and accent, and when she returned my credit card to me I held both hands out, palms up, as if someone had passed me a weapon, and bowed my head slightly. She automatically said something in Japanese in response, which ended in "sensei". It felt very natural at the time, but by the time I got back to the car I started to see the funny side of it.

When I was in Tokyo a few years ago, the stallholders under Shinjuku station were all calling out to potential customers as "sensei"; and when I used to go to a Japanese osteopath I always addressed him the same way. I understand that in the context of Japanese culture it is used as a general expression of respect for someone's experience and seniority.
I'm 99.999% sure you misheard something here, most likely something ending in "-mase". It would be highly irregular to call customers "sensei" unless a) you know them, and b) you know they are normally addressed as "sensei", from being a teacher, doctor, lawyer, politician, or writer. Customers in Japan are addressed as "okyakusama", not "sensei". In nine years of living in Japan, in city and country, I've never seen a vendor or salesclerk call a customer "sensei".

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:45 AM   #40
Alex Megann
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
I'm 99.999% sure you misheard something here, most likely something ending in "-mase". It would be highly irregular to call customers "sensei" unless a) you know them, and b) you know they are normally addressed as "sensei", from being a teacher, doctor, lawyer, politician, or writer. Customers in Japan are addressed as "okyakusama", not "sensei". In nine years of living in Japan, in city and country, I've never seen a vendor or salesclerk call a customer "sensei".
Hmm. Maybe I did mis-hear in Shinjuku - I was quite tired and jetlagged at the time.

In the case of the lady in the supermarket, though, I was pretty sure what I heard - perhaps she had had experience in the martial arts?

Alex
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Old 02-15-2011, 06:09 AM   #41
dps
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

I remember a story about Sam Walton the founder of Walmart. He had a mid level manager approach him one day and told him that she was asked to speak at a wonem's club about her experiience as a woman in businees and they wanted to know what her title was. Since she had no offical title she asked him how she should respond. He told her to call herself whatever she wanted to.

She responded to the women's club and told them her title was "Supreme Commander".

dps
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Old 02-15-2011, 06:17 AM   #42
niall
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

I'm sure Josh is right but I can just about imagine an exaggerated flattering use of sensei to imply that the customer looked like an affluent politician or lawyer, say. I have sometimes heard customers being called shacho (company president) in that way.

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Old 02-15-2011, 10:32 AM   #43
Diana Frese
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

I've mentioned my little YMCA dojo in a few posts, because some people might like to hear of the experiences there. It was many years ago, when Aikido was not very well known, and the location helped us get students, people would try it out because they were curious what it was, when they saw us on the stairs or passed by the practice room.

My teaching that class, it was strange how it happened. I remember in the women's dressing room at Hombu, one of the young women asked when I got back to my country would I teach Aikido. I looked a bit puzzled as I had become shodan recently then. She said that I must because the education was "mottainai" I think the word was. I think the meaning was, valuable, meaning it must be shared.

My mom later sent me a notice from the local paper in which "Hakido" was mentioned, because she wanted me to come home and it was her way of telling me I could still practice back here. When I went to the Y to inquire I didn't know if it was Hapkido or Aikido the notice was about. The director said he didn't know but that the plan had fallen thru, so I have no idea who they were and which art they would have taught.

The director, in the brand new Y building that had not been here when I left for Japan a year and a half previously, asked "Where did you say you just came back from and can you teach it?"

So that is how I ended up teaching Aikido only a month or two after I returned from Japan. It amazes me even now that it happened that way.

One student wrote in inquiry, calling me sensei, but after going to a few seminars with our group he started calling me Daian, the way all the others in my Y classes did. As a shodan who had been in Japan, I really believed my class was what the name I picked said, "Introduction to Aikido." If I teach again, that's what it is going to be called, because that was the way to start a wonderful experience of sharing what I had learned and students to work on my "homework" with and to learn from them and from others who visited, and to travel when we could.

Right in the middle of the intro six week class my doctor ordered an exam to look for an ovarian cyst,which he suspected and they did find but thank God it wasn't cancerous. In the recovery room, as soon as I began to wake up I asked if I had been operated on, because if not, I was going to be teaching that night. Well, I had so I had to wait. Fortunately the students did too and at the first opportunity I was back, but with permission to only watch from the sidelines in the current stone washed denim shirt and jeans set that was popular at the time.

The students were doing irimi nage and I stood up to extend nage's hand a bit or something..... "Siddown!!!" I heard from the small line of students behind me.

"now THAT'S respect" I said to myself. People showing they really care impressed me so much.

My story aside, I am very much interested in this thread and in what the others have to say. Thank you, it is a big help to me as my husband and I will be getting back into training and hope to have good transportation to visit dojos at least in the local area.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:42 AM   #44
OwlMatt
 
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

There are some yudansha at my dojo that I call "sensei" all the time. There are others, who are as often students as instructors, whom I call "sensei" when they are teaching and their names when they are not. It's not a dojo rule, but it seems to work.

My martial arts blog: The Young Grasshopper
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:47 AM   #45
carina reinhardt
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Our teacher likes that we call him by his name Manuel, also do the other nidan. The same is for Cesar the teacher of mine, he does not like that we call him sensei. Some people who don't know them call them sensei. As for Frank Noel we usually call him sensei in the seminar, outside we just say Frank
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:04 PM   #46
amoeba
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Well, as Carsten said somewhere earlier in the thread, in my surroundings, we don't normally call anyone sensei. When I talk about my teachers, I call them my teachers, when I talk to them, I call them by their first name. I think they would look at me very strangely if I calles them sensei!
The only exception are japanese teachers. Them we call sensei, both when talking about and to them.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:31 PM   #47
nuxie
 
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

gosh I never really thought about this. When I am training I do not really talk much. Heck I don't think I really talk at all. So I have never had to address anyone. I sit and watch then I stand up bow to my partner and we get started. When I go to the bigger school I know I do not talk at all. I bow in with my partner and we start. I don't really ask questions because they generally notice I am screwing up and will correct me. Off the mat I stand within view and wait for my turn to talk. Generally they notice I am there and I talk with them. Heck for the longest time I called my uke by the wrong name when talking about him to somone else. HAHA. I have been at this seven months and I still call him the wrong name sometimes. I guess in smaller schools you do not use names as much.
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Old 02-18-2011, 12:08 AM   #48
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

We call our teachers by their first name. When they talk about their japanese teacher they mostly refer to him by his last name (Shimamoto). When speaking to him, I think they call him sensei.

When I talk to others about my teachers (who don't know my teachers), I refer to them as my teacher(s).
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Old 02-21-2011, 01:28 PM   #49
Alberto_Italiano
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Technically speaking, every dojo has a Sensei, and that can be only one person, the other ones teaching if s/he is not in the dojo at the moment being more correctly instructors but not the Sensei.

However, less technically, there is only one Sensei in the whole of the world and time. Raising this Sensei from its immemorial slumber is why one should train. I don't know how this Sensei behaves once awakened (in my case certainly it hasn't, though I am prodding in that direction on a daily basis), but it may be said that, most likely, won't use any words. Normally, this type of entities speak by hints & cues (this because they use no grammar - their grammar being made of names only and no verbs, articles, or adverbs).
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Old 02-21-2011, 02:07 PM   #50
lbb
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Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

Quote:
Alberto Italiano wrote: View Post
Technically speaking, every dojo has a Sensei, and that can be only one person, the other ones teaching if s/he is not in the dojo at the moment being more correctly instructors but not the Sensei.
How do you figure that? It just means "teacher", it's how Japanese schoolteachers are called. You surely don't think every elementary school can only have one sensei? This is getting a little too "Highlander" for me.
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