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Old 10-14-2002, 11:22 PM   #26
Location: Miami, FL
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 453
As I've learned, Japenese for "shihan" is master instructor, and "sensei" is teacher. I do know that "Shihan" translates (at least loosely) into master teacher. While Mitsugi Saotome Shihan I consider a true "master teacher," there are some 3rd and 2nd dan "sensei" that I slso consider true masters.

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Old 10-15-2002, 12:56 AM   #27
Chris Tan
Dojo: Aikido Shinju-Kai
Location: Singapore
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 9
Trying to remember my elementary Chinese education....

"搶 sensei" - the Chinese characters are the same as the Japanese ones. In the modern context, "sensei" is used like "Mr" in English

However, during the Chinese dynastic periods, "sensei" was meant to address respected individuals who were usually, but not always, teachers or scholars. These "sensei's" may teach in a informal sense such as the role of a advisor. An example would be the famous Zhuge Liang, who was the advisor to Liu Bei during the 3 Kingdoms period. In this case, Liu Bei would call Zhuge Liang - 搶 sensei.

So, although we would not use the word "sensei" to indicate a teacher in the modern context (The Chinese counterpart of the word 'Sensei' is lao-shi (Vt: old teacher), the word still has a connotation of being a teacher to it. To the native Chinese speaker, they would understand the difference between these 2 meanings intuitively.

Now, although this explanation is based on a Chinese context, I'm willing to bet that the meanings are the same in a Japanese context.

I'll try to supply the meaning of shihan in my next post if I have the time to check it out.
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Old 10-22-2002, 05:19 AM   #28
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
After reading Mr. Peter Goldsbury article for shihan, which has tremendous depth, I am moved to believe the word 'Shihan' is no more than a slang word, a derivitive whose actual word is not the the meaning.

Changed meanings for each slang word, such as 'Bad' a formidable opponent, or 'fat' sometimes called 'phat' someone who has much of what others appreciate such as money, looks, good luck, etc ... would seem to be the vein of the word 'shihan' verses its character or rootword meaning.

Or is it merely the creation of something new from something very old?

In either case, read this fascinating article with its invaluable insight into this question.

I think we should all chip in and by the guy a day out for his efforts, but that is the way I feel about knowledge.
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Old 10-27-2002, 08:35 PM   #29
Deb Fisher
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 145
Mike Lee wrote:

"This then becomes a win-win situation -- the student doesn't fall into a rut (and hopefully they stay humble), and I get more people the can help me teach quality aikido."

This makes sense to me. I am a teaching assistant myself, and am finding that every time I get up and explain something or lead a discussion, a topic that I've been soaking in for a decade becomes brand new again. Teaching is the ultimate learning tool.

As for the How To Teach debate... I am lucky to have a very flexible sensei who seems to know (or perhaps I am lucky) when to explain and when to let someone flail, as well as when to encourage and when to leave a student alone.

I think that teachers do best when they are connected with students and give them what they need - it is on a very basic level a service. I am not talking about cheerleading or manufacturing desire for students; it's not like waiting tables. Teaching is, however, a job, not a priviledge. The teacher as some silent performer to be stolen from is rampant in my field, too, and I think it is ungenerous. For that matter, I cannot imagine how bored they must be and cannot figure out why they are wasting their precious time in the classroom by closing themselves behind a shield of largesse when they could be learning themselves.

Deb Fisher
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Old 11-08-2002, 11:50 AM   #30
Juan's Avatar
Location: Miami
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 13
I believe that Aikido can be taught. Not everyone has the ability to see something and figure it out. A student can watch a teacher and mimic them but have they learned? Do they know why a particular move is made? Aikido as I would bet any other martial art can be "STOLEN" from the teacher, but does the student REALLY understand the minute details that make it so? Mostly not I believe. I remember training with my Sensei and teaching my students, and how I sometimes mimiced the technique but did not understand why or how it worked and I see the same thing in my students. I will say after some years of training I learned to see the intricacies of the techniques as my students are now doing. So we may not TEACH the whole but we are TAUGHT to learn.

As for being a talkative teacher or being a silent one. I do both... it depends on the class and how everyone is doing. To me being a GOOD teacher is having the knowledge but more important the ability to communicate your knowledge in a variety of ways to get to the same point.

In sincere Aiki spirit,
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Old 11-20-2002, 08:58 PM   #31
Dojo: Okinawa Yoshinkan
Location: Okinawa, Japan
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 19
From what I've learned Sensei tends to mean someone who has more knowledge on a suject than you or I. That is why the word is used for doctors, politicians, and teachers. The person who has more knowledge, or comes before us, instructs us or helps us in some manner of form.

As for the silent teacher it seems that many of the original students of O'Sensei said that he would teach in this manner. He would show them a movement and then the student would try to copy it. I may be incorrect in this. My sensei also tends to teach this way unless asked. I have had the priviledge of learning some from Kai sensei of the Nippon Budoin Seibukan, Kai sensei is my sensei's sensei. He teads to teach the silent way but does gives "hands on" if needed which I like more. I think you tend to learn more by watching but you don't get a feel for it without some hands on.

Just my opinion.

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Old 11-22-2002, 03:30 PM   #32
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
good and bad of teach or student

My arena of expertise is in fixing boats and motors, so within the realm of teaching a dozen or more high school students the difference between working for the vocational education program and working for someone in the real working world, I must approach the teaching subject from this school of hard knocks.

I am not a fan of those who try to shorten the learning process, trade scholarly knowledge for experience, nor do I condone experience without the knowledge of being able to find resource of knowledge with manuals and research. So, in the sense of Aikido being a lesson of transmission through experience, I am still a proponent of having the practitioner find a balance between practice and scholarly knowledge.

As far as who is the higher degree of teacher, that is like a game of which general has the most medals and the most stars, when in fact, it is not always those who are crowned with the highest rank who can get the actual job done ... We venerate the teacher as we should our elderly who contain the lessons of many years of living, but then the actual people who get the job done are you and me.

We sometimes miss this segment of life in our American dream to rise to the top of the ladder and be recognized as being knowledgable or venerated. The most friendly, most knowledgable people I have met, not only share their knowledge, but they are quite down to earth.

My approach to teaching students to understand their place within the social system is to not only explain the technical knowledge they need to learn to excell at a job, but to give them a working knowledge of why they are working in the capacity they are working with options to change their situation.

So too, we should be a little more forthcoming in the hierarchy system so that it is understood that we all are equal in the goal of learning Aikido, and we all have different roles to perform as either teachers or students.

Sometimes, the teacher enjoys being the student more than teaching, which is the kind of teacher I, personally, get along with well.

The fact that we have roles of teaching, learning, and have set up a system that contols our roles is just the security of our roles in society to continue to carry particular areas of learning into future generations.

If you start getting a swelled head about becomeing a shihan, well.... in my opinion, it is time to return to the beginning to restart the cycle of learning again.

The basis of order is the basis of a stabil society, and if that means having ten degrees of dans is the way, then go for it.

Just don't forget ... if you really learn one technique really well, you will be able to martially protect yourself. From that one technique, the variations will flow and extend,and what difference will it make if you are shihan, or shoeshine?

I may be getting a little weird on this subject, but your goal as a student is to surpass your teacher in knowledge and performance, as least that is how I have applied teaching to what I know ... whether the student learned this lesson, or not.

It becomes like kicking the bird out of the nest to see if it can fly, only we try to give our pilots a little edge over the instinct of birds.

You gotta laugh at the old adage, if god had wanted people to learn Aikido he would have made them different from you and I?
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Old 11-22-2002, 07:37 PM   #33
Richard Elliott
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 47
I am inclined to agree with most of what Mr. Baker has written regarding to teacher/student dynamic. A good teacher is usually confident enough and has the understanding to know if and when stepping out of his/her "role" is called for or necessary for whatever reason. I've never taught Aikido. I have taught ESL classes at college and am sometime called to provide instruction at work. So my teaching experience is limited. But I have been a student,a good one and a bad one, as I guess most of us have at times.

I'm curious as to what point in training is it really necessary for an instructor to find it necessary to "go beyond" the minimum stardards of just technical instruction? I mean, is there a point where it is absolutely necessary for the teacher and student to form some bond, that is not necessarily based on voluntary friendship or loyalty, but stays within a strict boundary of Teacher and Student, for the student to continue to progress?

Maybe there isn't one. I am not asking a rhetorical question, but I am curious for any response.

Respectfully, Richard
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Old 11-23-2002, 02:02 AM   #34
mike lee
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 646
I mean, is there a point where it is absolutely necessary for the teacher and student to form some bond, that is not necessarily based on voluntary friendship or loyalty, but stays within a strict boundary of Teacher and Student, for the student to continue to progress?
There's an infinite amount of levels such a relationship can have, but ultimately, it seems to me, all hinges on trust and respect.
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Old 11-23-2002, 07:01 PM   #35
Richard Elliott
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 47
Mike Lee (mike lee) wrote:
There's an infinite amount of levels such a relationship can have, but ultimately, it seems to me, all hinges on trust and respect.
Thanx Mr. Lee, your probably right. My question was vague. I thought to delete it shortly after I wrote it. The theme of the thread seem to me, at least partly, to do with reasonable expectation of students of the teacher: the linguistic derivation of shihan and sensei. It seems clear to me, from reading about what people consider to be a teacher, is that it is someone that is willing to share what they know in a generous way. Yes, I guess this sharing would have to be based on trust and respect.

O'Sensei did state that techniques should not be shared with evil-doers.

"Infinite"? I don't know about that?

Respectfully, Richard
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Old 03-03-2006, 11:31 AM   #36
Rocky Izumi
Dojo: GUST Aikido Club
Location: Salwa, Kuwait
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 381
Re: Responsibility: Teacher's or Student's?


Given your findings regarding the linguistics of the term "Shihan" where does the term "Shihan-Dai" come in, given its use to describe something like the Chief Instructor of a dojo. For those of you who haven't heard the term, it is often used to describe the head instructor of a dojo. If the Sensei of a dojo is not available, then someone else becomes the "Shihan-Dai" or, if a Sensei's Shihan comes to the dojo, then that person becomes the "Shihan-Dai." The closest English equivalent that I could come up with was "Chief Instructor," but one in which the position is temporary depending on who should be instructing at the time.

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