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Old 01-05-2003, 05:49 AM   #1
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Question Titles

Hello everyone,

What are the titles you call your teachers? I come from a lineage that only uses the terms "sensei" or "shihan" (to my knowledge), but have seen some folks on this website call their sensei "master", "grandmaster" etc. Please, what do you call your teachers, and if you call them something other than "Sensei", do they practice another MA as primary?

Just curious!

Best,

Rachel
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Old 01-05-2003, 09:23 AM   #2
MikeE
 
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I really have only seen the terms shihan and sensei (or possibly: kancho, kaiso, shidoin, shidoshi, etc.) for mainstream Aikido.

Now, (opening a can of worms) I consider mainstream Aikido; stuff like: styles and organizations under the aikikai umbrella, Shin Shin toitsu Aikido and its offshoots -i.e. Seidokan, International Aikido Association,-- Yoshinkan and offshoots, Tomiki and offshoots.

The only "aikido" groups I have seen that use grandmaster or master in title form are some dubious schools of "Take your Dough" or "Tyrone Do" that incorporate simple standing grappling and locks and say they are master level in Aikido too.

Also,

Sometimes a group will secularize the Japanese title for the benefit of the general public.

Mike Ellefson
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Old 01-05-2003, 12:33 PM   #3
rachmass
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Occassionally I look through a few of the profiles of folks on this thread, and some of them have their teacher down as "grandmaster" so and so. Is this perhaps a title in certain styles of aikido? I, like Mike, am really only familiar with the Aikikai and some of the offshoots.

Please, folks out there with teachers with these titles, can you tell me which style it is through, and whether that is a typical name for a teacher within this style. Again, it is purely out of curiousity.

best,

Rachel
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Old 01-05-2003, 02:48 PM   #4
tedehara
 
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Grandmaster

Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
Occassionally I look through a few of the profiles of folks on this thread, and some of them have their teacher down as "grandmaster" so and so. Is this perhaps a title in certain styles of aikido?...
The term "Grand Master" was originally given by the Tsar (Czar) of Russia to the top master chess players in an early St. Petersburg tournament.

Today, the title Grandmaster is given out by FIDE, the international chess organization. To achieve this title, you must receive three GM norms in FIDE tournaments or win an Interzonal tournament for the World Championship.

Since the title had its origins in chess, I consider it more marketing than ranking.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 01-05-2003, 03:19 PM   #5
rachmass
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Is it truly a chess thing? Don't the TKD guys and jujitsu folks have it too? I was wondering in particular if the teachers who are called "grandmaster" so and so, had that title from another MA, and transferred it to their aikido teachings, or if it is actually conferred upon a teacher through some legitimate aikido organization.
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Old 01-05-2003, 03:25 PM   #6
siwilson
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Quote:
Michael Ellefson (MikeE) wrote:
The only "aikido" groups I have seen that use grandmaster or master in title form are some dubious schools of "Take your Dough" or "Tyrone Do" that incorporate simple standing grappling and locks and say they are master level in Aikido too.
Hmmm, well I would consider us mainstream Aikido, as we are of a lineage back to O'Sensei via Kancho Shioda. We do use the term "Master", but only for the 2 senior teachers in the Shudokan (one now past away).

It is a title more used by the students, rather than the teachers which has become a more common form.

If to qualify the titles, my teacher had over 40 years in martial arts before he past away, and his teacher has over 50. Plus training with them, you understand the term when you feel their Aikido.

Last edited by siwilson : 01-05-2003 at 03:27 PM.

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Old 01-05-2003, 04:07 PM   #7
MikeE
 
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Si,

There was no offense intended whatsoever.

You don't use the term shihan or sensei?

Mike Ellefson
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Old 01-05-2003, 04:29 PM   #8
tedehara
 
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Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
Is it truly a chess thing? Don't the TKD guys and jujitsu folks have it too? I was wondering in particular if the teachers who are called "grandmaster" so and so, had that title from another MA, and transferred it to their aikido teachings, or if it is actually conferred upon a teacher through some legitimate aikido organization.
You should look into both marketing and the truth.


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Old 01-05-2003, 06:42 PM   #9
siwilson
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Quote:
Michael Ellefson (MikeE) wrote:
Si,

There was no offense intended whatsoever.

You don't use the term shihan or sensei?
Hi Michael, no offense taken.

Yes, we use the terms Sensei and Shihan. The latter we don't bother with much though. We only use Sensei for 3rd Dan and above. For 1st and 2nd Dan we use Sempai.

I know this is not the norm, and the only other time I have seen this is in Karate dojo.

Osu!
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Old 01-06-2003, 03:03 AM   #10
norman telford
 
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hi rachael the organisation in which i practice (the ukau which also covers europe) we refor to up to 3rd dan as sempai 4th and 5th dan as sensei 6th dan and above as master also when the rank of 6th dan is achieved a black belt is no longer worn but a red/white one and although ive never seen one 10th dan wear a red belt (this is what beginners wear in the ukau) do other oragansations have the red/white belt at 6th dan one thing that does cause confusion especialy within your first year in aikido is being able to tell a 1st dan from a 5th dan im not talking about thier level of aikido(what you see on the mat) i.e. on a seminar where there is a lot of aikidoka you have never met before lots of people in black belts and hakama's. none of the above probably helps just thought id add my tuppence worth
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Old 01-06-2003, 03:45 AM   #11
erikmenzel
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Hi,

we almost always use the terms sensei and shihan. There is however one exception, a very nice and friendly teacher from Belgium is always called maitre Dedobbeleer instead of Dedobbeleer sensei.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 01-06-2003, 07:04 AM   #12
deepsoup
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Hi Norman,

I've not heard of the red/white belt thing in Aikido before, but it is the standard in Judo. (Although 6th dan judoka usually just wear a black belt in regular training, and only get the red/white one out for special occasions.)

For a beginner who can't tell a 1st dan from a 5th dan - I dont suppose it matters a bit, he's probably going to learn the same amount if he gets to practice with either one of them.

Sean

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Old 01-06-2003, 08:33 AM   #13
rachmass
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In reading "the Spirit of Aikido" by the late Doshu, and in reading some of Yamada Sensei's writings, I have repeatedly seen O'Sensei referred to as "Master Ueshiba", but haven't seen it in any other context to any other aikido teacher.

The titles seem to be solely dependent upon the organization to which they belong.

Interesting about the red belt, I haven't seen that one. I have seen the extensive use of white belts with Dan grades.

Thank you all for contributing to this discussion, and letting me know about some of the organizations that use titles other than the ones to which I am more familiar. These forums are an invaluable tool for education.

best to all,

Rachel
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Old 01-06-2003, 09:27 AM   #14
Sherman Byas
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My instructor once told me "Sensei always works." I went to a karate tournament once and it was both sad & funny to see people walking around with "Master" & "Grandmaster" on the back of their jackets. With everyone trying to get rich from martial arts these titles will continue to be around. I mean hey, why study with just a plain ole' Sensei when you can study with a (music starts) "GRANDMASTER".
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Old 01-06-2003, 10:12 AM   #15
diesel
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Someone correct me if I am wrong.. but traditionally, a shihan is a licensed teacher. By licensed I mean he is recognized as proficient and able to teach.

Yoshinkan for example (again, correct me if I am wrong); once you are 3rd dan you can test with hombu to receive a teacher's certificate therefor you can run you own "recognized" dojo and award ranks up to first dan. This is a "shihan" license in the traditional sense.

As for aikikai and others, I am not quite for sure how you get the "shihan" title. It maybe just something that develops with the higher dan ranks?

Eric
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Old 01-06-2003, 10:15 AM   #16
rachmass
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Hi Eric,

Shihan, is a master teacher, generally sixth dan or higher, and as far as I know, is conferred on the teacher through Hombu (aikikai) dojo.

Within the USAF, "shidoin" and "fukushidoin" are the teaching certificates.
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Old 01-06-2003, 10:34 AM   #17
siwilson
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Hi All

My understanding is that "Shihan" means "teacher of teachers".

Actually, it doesn't matter about what titles people use. You can call yourself "Master", "Grand Master", "Bimbo the Clown" - if your Aikido is good and you have much to give, then great. After all, it really is just about the training!

Best wishes

Osu!
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Old 01-06-2003, 10:40 AM   #18
rachmass
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Hi,

Mr. Wilson is right, I think he's got the right definition on Shihan (wasn't there a thread on that name a month or two ago?). This thread was about the usage of "master" or "grandmaster" and wasn't meant to be anything inflammatory or anything; just a curiousity of the usage and what lineages subscribed to those titles. Please don't take any of my comments as anything other than that.

best,

Rachel
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Old 01-06-2003, 10:52 AM   #19
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Hi folks,

If you're interested in some research on the terms "shihan" and "sensei," you can find them in two articles here on AikiWeb:

Sensei / Shihan as "Teacher" in Japanese by Peter Goldsbury:

http://www.aikiweb.com/language/goldsbury1.html

Learning from the Learned: A Story in Pictures by Jim Vance:

http://www.aikiweb.com/language/vance1.html

On a personal note, I refer to my teacher as "sensei" both on and off the mat as he's Japanese, especially when I'm talking to him in Japanese. I think I've commented here that since I'm Japanese, it just feels biologically weird to call him anything else otherwise since he's my instructor. I usually do the same (use "sensei" as their "name") with Japanese instructors as that's what's natural to me. However, I usually use people's first names when I'm talking to non-Japanese instructors off the mat, especially if I've known them for a while.

I don't think I'd address someone directly as "shihan" (eg "Hi, So-and-so shihan") although I might use it in referring to that person (eg "I just went to a seminar with So-and-so shihan and I had a lot of fun.")

I can't say I've ever used "sempai" or "kohai" as titles since, to me, they're not titles but, rather, just refer to people who have been in the art longer/shorter than I have. It has nothing to do with rank to me. In the traditional sense, a person who started one day ahead of me would be a "sempai" -- even if they stopped training for twenty years or even if I got advanced in rank past their rank; I'd still be their kohai.

As an aside, I always think it's totally weird to hear people calling themselves as "sensei" like "Hi, I'm Bob sensei" (or even worse, "Hi, I'm sensei Bob"). It's kind of like saying, "Hi, I'm Mr. Bob." It's just not something that one would use in Japan to refer to oneself. As I wrote in the end of Chris Li's article on the term "sensei", "introducing oneself as "I'm So-and-so sensei" sounds a weird and even a bit presumptuous to my ears..."

-- Jun

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Old 01-06-2003, 11:03 AM   #20
rachmass
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Hi Jun,

Thanks for the information. I too call my sensei "sensei" both on and off the mat, and have the same attitude towards all my various sensei (they are all Japanese too, but I am not). I have friends who are the chief instructors of their own dojos, and I always call them sensei on the mat, but usually off the mat (and in particular if we are out of the dojo) by their names (this is what they have all pretty much asked; if they hadn't, I would call them sensei).

My question and start of the tread came up as I had several visitors in my dojo recently who called their teacher "grandmaster" ..., and I had never heard this usage before, and was trying to find out the genisus of the title and to which style it was ascribed.

Formality is quite important to me in my dealings with folks, although in my own dojo I tend to be rather informal (I am a very junior teacher). When I have a visiting teacher on the mat (just to train, not to lead a seminar), then I am always very formal, address him/her as sensei.

And finally, if someone calls themselves "sensei bob", or something like that, I too find it rather odd on the ears.
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Old 01-06-2003, 12:42 PM   #21
deepsoup
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Quote:
Eric Roku (diesel) wrote:
As for aikikai and others, I am not quite for sure how you get the "shihan" title. It maybe just something that develops with the higher dan ranks?
In Shodokan its very simple, there are only two Shihans at any given time. One is based at Waseda University and the other at Shodokan Honbu, and currently the two Shihans are Fumiaki Shishida and Tetsuro Nariyama respectively.

Sean

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