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Old 08-10-2009, 08:57 AM   #1
Ron Tisdale
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Just a note, I believe the word you are referring to is sempai...and personally, I tend to avoid it outside of a strictly Japanese context. Western society doesn't really allow for the development of the sempai / kohai relationship. It tends to become easy to abuse even in the Japanese context, let alone outside of it.

Best,
Ron

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Old 08-10-2009, 09:59 AM   #2
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Just a note, I believe the word you are referring to is sempai...and personally, I tend to avoid it outside of a strictly Japanese context. Western society doesn't really allow for the development of the sempai / kohai relationship. It tends to become easy to abuse even in the Japanese context, let alone outside of it.
So use the words "senior" and "junior", which is all that "sempai" and "kohai" are used to mean in many (most?) dojos. I don't think the problem that Maggie is describing really has anything to do with either a sempai-kohai relationship or its absence. The problem is a simple one: some people take it upon themselves to instruct others as soon as they feel (correctly or incorrectly) that they have a grasp of something. Why this is a problem for someone has many possibilities, not least of which the sting to the pride of being instructed by a junior. That and many other aspects are something that you can let slide like water like a duck's back if you so choose...or you can choose to let it bother you. For others, the solution is personal and local, so it's not really possible to offer useful advice except...seek out the personal and local solution.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:15 AM   #3
Ron Tisdale
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

No arguement from me Mary. I was just pointing out the mis-spelling of the word, and some of the complexities of using it outside of its original culture. No biggie...
Best,
Ron

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Old 08-10-2009, 11:43 AM   #4
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Ron, I believe she just made a simple typo, as she also spelled it right previously in the entry. I'm sure we all know about my typos in here. HAHA.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:20 PM   #5
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Quote:
Ashley Carter wrote: View Post
Ron, I believe she just made a simple typo, as she also spelled it right previously in the entry. I'm sure we all know about my typos in here. HAHA.
Yeah, it was a typo. Sampai is a turn me use in my dojo, so I use it. Though the word junior/senior/ rank etc are all acceptable.

I think most of the issues we deal with with "junior" students is those who might take themselves to seriously. Most people in my school at least, if they mess their ukemi up and you respond by changing the technique to correspond the uke is fine with it. They might either find the lesson of it, or find the humor of it. They enjoy training and the process. Now I'm not saying my ukemi is spectacular; note my flexibility thread for proof of that; however sometimes people purposely take bad, lazy, or defective ukemi. When they walk out of a technique, they splat before you even touch them, or try to muscle you down with them when they are thrown it can get dangerous if you don't change what you are doing. And I've come across two people that scream and make a scene if you change what you do in response. They fain injury, or get beyond flustered that they were "physically" corrected. I think maybe they are taking it all too seriously.

BTW: when someone refuses to let go when thrown quite hard I've yet to fall with them... I'm luckily very low centered and naturally low to the ground, and I had an instructor that held on to me when I threw him to teach me good posture and good stance since I was a 6th kyu, so I've yet to land on the buggers. (I don't trust their ability to get out of the way if I fell on them, which makes me think it is a stupid move on their part even more so.)
However, the person that likes to hold on to me just for the sake of being a difficult uke hurt her shoulder. I had good posture and finished low, she was still holding on. My body didn't give to the force but her shoulder did. I really didn't consider her trying to "prove" she was more skilled was worth sitting out to her or anyone else. It just frustrates me. I wanna scream "What is the problem? ! Just train and stop thinking your anything you're not, enjoy yourself and don't take it so seriously. I mean seriously, at 5th kyu you aren't going to impress anyone anyways, so cut it out!" I mean lol, I sure the heck don't impress anyone, I'm not going to break my neck trying.

Last edited by RED : 08-10-2009 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 08-10-2009, 09:42 PM   #6
Ryan Seznee
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Just a note, I believe the word you are referring to is sempai...and personally, I tend to avoid it outside of a strictly Japanese context. Western society doesn't really allow for the development of the sempai / kohai relationship. It tends to become easy to abuse even in the Japanese context, let alone outside of it.

Best,
Ron
Sempai just means "Senior" a student that is higher ranked or has been there longer is just that... A senior student. It has no connotation of a relationship other than they are also learning, but have been around the block more than you. Why would you be squemish about using the Japanese term when you practice a Japanese marital art. Do you not use terms like Ireminage, shihonage, and jujinage in favor of terms like entering throw, four corner throw, and figure ten throw?

Secondly, how do you know what kind of relationship she has with her seniors? Just because she isn't Japanese doesn't mean she cannot relate. If that were true that one cannot understand a sempai relationship, can you honestly say that an American can understand a Sensei relationship... can one pass on any knowledge of Aikido without at least some knowledge of this relationship?
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:57 AM   #7
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Just a note, I believe the word you are referring to is sempai...and personally, I tend to avoid it outside of a strictly Japanese context. Western society doesn't really allow for the development of the sempai / kohai relationship. It tends to become easy to abuse even in the Japanese context, let alone outside of it.

Best,
Ron
Ron,
I believe you are spot on with this observation.
Ricky
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:10 AM   #8
Ron Tisdale
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Quote:
Ryan Szesny wrote: View Post
Sempai just means "Senior" a student that is higher ranked or has been there longer is just that... A senior student. It has no connotation of a relationship other than they are also learning, but have been around the block more than you. Why would you be squemish about using the Japanese term when you practice a Japanese marital art. Do you not use terms like Ireminage, shihonage, and jujinage in favor of terms like entering throw, four corner throw, and figure ten throw?
I stated the reason I'd be cautious...because the term carries more significance that just "senior". I happen to train under a Japanese instructor, and from 3rd kyu on our tests are in Japanese. But the terms sempai and kohai are not used. The context for those terms is pretty strongly linked to certain Japanese cultural ideas. They don't always merge well in western social groups (in my opinion). Try a search on some of the abuse issues in Japanese University clubs. I think you'll see what I mean. Especially when linked to deaths in aikido keiko there. See below the wikipedia entry for a *very* basic idea.

Quote:
Senpai (先輩?) and kōhai (後輩?) are an essential element of Japanese seniority-based status relationships, similar to the way that family and other relationships are decided based on age, with even twins being divided into older and younger sibling. Senpai is roughly equivalent to the western concept of "mentor", while kōhai is roughly equivalent to "protege". Or simply an "elder" vs. someone younger in the family/company/organization -- the terms are used more widely than a true mentor/protege in the West.

A lowerclass student will often refer to upperclass students as "senpai", and alumni/ae will often refer to alumni/ae from earlier classes as "senpai". Particularly if fate brings them together later on, such as joining the same company, serving on a board together, or simply being in a club or parent's organization at the same time.

On rare occasions, a younger person may also be considered the senpai of an older person if circumstances dictate -- such as if the older person entered an organization or company at a later time than the younger person did. This is not all that common, however.

Note that senpai is often seen romanized as "sempai" because it is pronounced that way (the Japanese "n" (ん) is pronounced as "m" when it comes before bilabials, such as "p").

In a Japanese school sports club, such as a baseball team, the kōhai are usually expected to perform various menial tasks for the senpai including washing clothes and cleaning. The kōhai may not be allowed to play the sport at all or have only limited opportunities to do so until they become senpai.

More than simple seniority, senpai implies a relationship with reciprocal obligations, somewhat similar to a mentoring relationship. A kōhai is expected to respect and obey their senpai, and the senpai in turn must guide, protect, and teach their kōhai as best they can. Senpai/kōhai relationships generally last for as long as the two people concerned stay in contact, even if the original context in which the senpai was senior is no longer relevant.
Quote:
Secondly, how do you know what kind of relationship she has with her seniors? Just because she isn't Japanese doesn't mean she cannot relate. If that were true that one cannot understand a sempai relationship, can you honestly say that an American can understand a Sensei relationship... can one pass on any knowledge of Aikido without at least some knowledge of this relationship?
I don't know, and frankly, it's none of my business. I gave an opinion...only that. In passing. If she would like to take it upon herself to do some research to better understand my comment in passing, good for her. I'd suggest you do the same...

Best,
Ron (it is just an opinion, feel free to leave it if you like)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:17 AM   #9
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Quote:
Ryan Szesny wrote: View Post
Sempai just means "Senior" a student that is higher ranked or has been there longer is just that... A senior student. It has no connotation of a relationship other than they are also learning, but have been around the block more than you. Why would you be squemish about using the Japanese term when you practice a Japanese marital art. Do you not use terms like Ireminage, shihonage, and jujinage in favor of terms like entering throw, four corner throw, and figure ten throw?

Secondly, how do you know what kind of relationship she has with her seniors? Just because she isn't Japanese doesn't mean she cannot relate. If that were true that one cannot understand a sempai relationship, can you honestly say that an American can understand a Sensei relationship... can one pass on any knowledge of Aikido without at least some knowledge of this relationship?
Unfortunately for you Ryan, Ron is right. Sempai/kohai relationship is impossible outside of Japan.
And as Ron is your sempai on Aikiweb now you have to bow very deeply and agree with everything he said.

Nagababa

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Old 08-11-2009, 10:13 AM   #10
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

Now that Jun has so kindly separated this out....

Quote:
And as Ron is your sempai on Aikiweb now you have to bow very deeply and agree with everything he said.
Oh no! Please don't do that! You'll only give me an even bigger head....I won't be able to fit out the door!
B,
R

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Old 08-11-2009, 10:44 AM   #11
Janet Rosen
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

{devil's advocate hat on}
Does it have to manifest exactly as it does in Japan for us to appropriate the words as something a little different from junior/senior?
Where I train the dojo culture has a several decades long history of using the terms to describe a chain of support and responsibility. I think that when newbies are told that is what "sempai/kohei" means, it has meaning beyond the English words "junior/senior" which in most contexts bear no inherent relationship. So while we are not using the Japanese terms to describe the full relationship as it exists in Japan, it becomes a useful jargon, if you will, so students understand it as something special within the dojo context, just as we use other Japanese language terms.
YMMV
{devil's advocate hat off}

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 08-11-2009 at 10:44 AM. Reason: clarity I hope

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Old 08-11-2009, 10:59 AM   #12
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

Hi Janet, works for me! I take it they make it clear there what it is to mean in that dojo environment.

Hey, I probably just think too much...
Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:26 PM   #13
Garth Jones
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

I'll second Janet's answer. I think it just comes down the the (rather obvious) point that we are not Japanese, especially old fashioned Japanese. My teacher is visiting my dojo right now. On the mat, she is vastly senior to me and very clearly 'Sensei.' Outside of the dojo we can go to dinner, see a movie, or whatever, as social equals and friends because that's how we do things here (in the US, anyway). That would never work in Japan.

So I think the same thing goes for sempai/kohai. In the dojo I expect my senior students to help the more junior ones (and they do!) and so on. Outside of the dojo we are a collection of people with widely varied backgrounds, jobs, and experiences - and no hierarchical relationship. Applying the dojo seniority structure outside the dojo makes no sense in our culture.

What I do like to see extend beyond the walls of the dojo is a sense of community. We are all drawn together by our common interest in aikido and hopefully our lives are enriched by knowing each other.

Cheers,
Garth
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:57 PM   #14
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Now that Jun has so kindly separated this out....
I don't like it when this happens. FWIW. I don't like seeing my words taken out of context and I don't see why anyone else should be expected to like it either. Call a post off-topic if you want, delete it from a thread if you want...I don't like creating a new thread like this, and moving people's comments around, without any discussion or consent.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:44 PM   #15
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I don't like it when this happens. FWIW. I don't like seeing my words taken out of context and I don't see why anyone else should be expected to like it either. Call a post off-topic if you want, delete it from a thread if you want...I don't like creating a new thread like this, and moving people's comments around, without any discussion or consent.
Hi Mary,
Now we know what you don't like.
There is a single thing in the world that you like?

Nagababa

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Old 08-11-2009, 02:46 PM   #16
Janet Rosen
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

I like it when Jun spins these off. It lets those folks who are interested in one conversation continue it while giving another subject its own opportunity to be discussed. Uh oh, I sense topic creep.... OH NO I'm moooooving......

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Old 08-11-2009, 02:49 PM   #17
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
{devil's advocate hat on}
Does it have to manifest exactly as it does in Japan for us to appropriate the words as something a little different from junior/senior?
Where I train the dojo culture has a several decades long history of using the terms to describe a chain of support and responsibility. I think that when newbies are told that is what "sempai/kohei" means, it has meaning beyond the English words "junior/senior" which in most contexts bear no inherent relationship. So while we are not using the Japanese terms to describe the full relationship as it exists in Japan, it becomes a useful jargon, if you will, so students understand it as something special within the dojo context, just as we use other Japanese language terms.
YMMV
{devil's advocate hat off}
angel mod on
No Janet, this dojo-specific relationship has nothing to do with real sempai/kohai system. It is a misuse of words and creates a lot of confusion.
angel mod off

Nagababa

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Old 08-11-2009, 02:58 PM   #18
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

Quote:
Garth Jones wrote: View Post
I'll second Janet's answer. I think it just comes down the the (rather obvious) point that we are not Japanese, especially old fashioned Japanese. My teacher is visiting my dojo right now. On the mat, she is vastly senior to me and very clearly 'Sensei.' Outside of the dojo we can go to dinner, see a movie, or whatever, as social equals and friends because that's how we do things here (in the US, anyway). That would never work in Japan.
Sure it would. Sempai/kohai enjoy social activities together all the time. Very often, the longest, most intimate friendships a Japanese person will have is with a sempai/kohai.

Josh Reyer

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Old 08-11-2009, 03:13 PM   #19
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

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Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Hi Mary,
Now we know what you don't like.
There is a single thing in the world that you like?
Yup, and if you were paying attention you'd know what. There's no reason why you should, just don't be talking like I'm some kind of uniquely discontented individual.

Moving around people's words is sketchy. That's all I'm saying.
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:21 PM   #20
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

Yeah, and if you don't watch your step, the Circus Ponies of Death will tromple you!
B,
R

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Old 08-11-2009, 03:52 PM   #21
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
angel mod on
No Janet, this dojo-specific relationship has nothing to do with real sempai/kohai system. It is a misuse of words and creates a lot of confusion.
angel mod off
LOL! In the words of the learned SoSueMe Sensei, "too bad"

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Old 08-11-2009, 07:14 PM   #22
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Re: Sempai/Kohai Relationship in Aikido


LOL Y'all take yourselves very seriously.
...
Loosen the obi once in awhile; you'll live longer. lol

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Old 08-11-2009, 08:30 PM   #23
Ryan Seznee
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Unfortunately for you Ryan, Ron is right. Sempai/kohai relationship is impossible outside of Japan.
And as Ron is your sempai on Aikiweb now you have to bow very deeply and agree with everything he said.
Your arguement is flawed. He does not believe in the Sempai/kohai relationship, so by his standards I have no reason to show any reverance because such a relationship is impossible outside of Japan. You even don't believe in it by your own admission. Your statement is self contradictory because you want me to adhere to a relationship that you JUST said did not exist and can not because we are geographically seperate from Japan.

On a personal note, I love your post, but I argue with everyone regardless of who they are. It drives my Sempai crazy
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:46 PM   #24
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Quote:
Ryan Szesny wrote: View Post
Your arguement is flawed. He does not believe in the Sempai/kohai relationship, so by his standards I have no reason to show any reverance because such a relationship is impossible outside of Japan. You even don't believe in it by your own admission. Your statement is self contradictory because you want me to adhere to a relationship that you JUST said did not exist and can not because we are geographically seperate from Japan.

On a personal note, I love your post, but I argue with everyone regardless of who they are. It drives my Sempai crazy
The internet knows no geographical boundaries, so it is ONLY in the internet that a true sempai/kohai relationship can exist.
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Old 08-12-2009, 06:19 AM   #25
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Re: 5th Kyu Shihan

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote: View Post
The internet knows no geographical boundaries, so it is ONLY in the internet that a true sempai/kohai relationship can exist.
Hehehehe... Can't argue with that
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