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Old 01-07-2003, 03:25 PM   #1
erikmenzel
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Calling oneself sensei

Hello,
every now and again I run into people that call themselves sensei.
Is it just me who thinks this is weird?

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
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Old 01-07-2003, 03:33 PM   #2
Thalib
 
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I wouldn't even call myself senpai...

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 01-07-2003, 03:58 PM   #3
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Re: Calling oneself sensei

Quote:
Erik Jurrien Knoops (erikknoops) wrote:
Is it just me who thinks this is weird?
Nope.

My thoughts on this are available here and here...

-- Jun

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Old 01-07-2003, 04:45 PM   #4
Bruce Baker
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There is a feeling of self as much as it is respectful, but on the whole, at least for Americans, your teacher, sensei, is either Mr., Miss, or Mrs. or merely who they are off the mat, outside the dojo.

Unless there is something inside of you that is angling for something more than respect for another human being.

Some teachers have that tremendous ego that needs to be stroked, but most of the really centered teachers are quite humble when not teaching.

Maybe I am getting grumpy in my old age, or it is merely the mutual respect of teacher and student as human beings, but in this life we create order, and in this order there is an equality of each human being.

If there isn't, then maybe we should go back to the beginning, to get some more misogi?
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Old 01-08-2003, 02:09 AM   #5
happysod
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Spot on as normal Eric. Mind, I think some students of martial arts have to take the blame as I've often heard long-term students refer to their "main man" as sensei{optional insert name here} outside of the dojo in some misplaced form of respect - now this I think is even wierder (doesn't the poor sod deserve a name rather than a title?).

Thanks for heads-up on "name before sensei" Jun, should be good for a few lessons wind-up of my own teacher (honest, it's good for him)
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Old 01-08-2003, 06:20 AM   #6
Vincentharris
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I have a very close friend of mine from college and we trained together at the same dojo with a private instructor for a couple of years. I graduated a year earlier than he did but now every time I get an email from him it ends with "Sensei" down at the bottom.

He does teach classes but he's never taught me anything. Would it be disrespectful to ask him to drop the sensei thing at the bottom of his messages. I'm training in a dojo in a totally different state tahn he is and it's really starting to get under my skin.

Optimists consider the glass half full, Pessimists consider the glass haf empty. I consider the glass is TOO BIG.
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Old 01-08-2003, 08:06 AM   #7
happysod
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Vince, I'd try ending my email replies with something similar, but ludicrous like

"el-supremo generalissimo grand-master sensei with bigger hakoma than you"

He may get the hint. Failing that, you can at least have fun seeing what titles you can get away with when replying
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Old 01-08-2003, 10:03 AM   #8
gamma80
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Titles

If you had to opportunity to meet O Sensei today how would you address him??? Nice to meet you Mr. Morihei? Hows it goin Ueshiba?

The title of Sensei has its' place and should be used and applied with common sense to show respect to someone who teaches you. If I run into my instructor in town I don't address him with "hey Dom" I simply say good afternoon Sensei, no big deal, just basic stuff.

Chris

PS: As an aside, I have seen titles abused and that says more about the person who abuses it than the ones who address them.
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Old 01-08-2003, 10:28 AM   #9
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I believe the initial question here at hand was not whether or not one should call their instructor as "sensei" on/off tha mat but whether they should call themselves such.

To my Japanese ears, hearing someone refer to themselves as "sensei" (as in, "Hi, I'm Smith sensei") is very weird.

-- Jun

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Old 01-08-2003, 11:23 AM   #10
Erik
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This type of thing is why I don't like this word.
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Old 01-08-2003, 11:36 AM   #11
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The use of the term to describe oneself sounds like an example of an uniformed japanophile's narcissism. I understand that the term is deified in the states, not in Japan. I think that's all the more reason to look askance at anyone who would do so.

Those people need some serious misogi a la rigorous training with truly skilled practitioner.

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Old 01-08-2003, 12:00 PM   #12
rachmass
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I couldn't imagine addressing myself as "Massey Sensei" or something like that, or even, "hi, this is Dr. Massey", they both feel really weird! I like my own name just as it was given to me by my parents.
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Old 01-08-2003, 01:25 PM   #13
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
To my Japanese ears, hearing someone refer to themselves as "sensei" (as in, "Hi, I'm Smith sensei") is very weird.
I was corrected--far too belatedly, in my opinion--for describing myself as a teacher in Japan. Someone would ask, in Japanese, "What do you do?" and I'd innocently answer, "Eigo no sensei."

This, I was informed, is presumptuous, as Jun commented. The proper term seems to be "kyoshi" as in "Eigo no kyoshi desu."

Jun, would this apply to aikido, too? Do we have "aikido no kyoshi"?

Don J. Modesto
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Old 01-08-2003, 03:36 PM   #14
Peter Goldsbury
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Quote:
Don J. Modesto (Don_Modesto) wrote:
I was corrected--far too belatedly, in my opinion--for describing myself as a teacher in Japan. Someone would ask, in Japanese, "What do you do?" and I'd innocently answer, "Eigo no sensei."

This, I was informed, is presumptuous, as Jun commented. The proper term seems to be "kyoshi" as in "Eigo no kyoshi desu."

Jun, would this apply to aikido, too? Do we have "aikido no kyoshi"?
Hello Don,

I am not Jun, but I think I can answer your question. The presumptuousness of referring to oneself as 'Sensei' or X-'san' is based on conventions relating to the use of honorifics in the Japanese language and applies across the board. This is an extremely refined art, and I see it in operation every day here at university meetings.

As to whether 'kyoushi' is an appropriate term to use, this has nothing to do with usage concerning honorifics, but with accepted job categories. I am not a kyoushi (which means something like 'lecturer') in my university, so I cannot use the term. In any case, an aikido kyoushi would be someone who lectures in aikido at an academic institution or technical college. In my own dojo here I am the 'sekininsha' (person responsible) and my two colleagues would be 'shidoin'. But 'Aikido o shidou suru' (I teach aikido) sounds less presumptuous than giving oneself an 'official' job category (I am an aikido teacher).

Finally, pressure of work prevents me from making any further contributions to this forum (and the AJ forum) for the next few months. I will have a look from time to time and occasionally post in the Japanese language section.

Best regards to all,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 01-08-2003, 03:51 PM   #15
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Re: Titles

Quote:
Chris Jordan (gamma80) wrote:
If you had to opportunity to meet O Sensei today how would you address him??? Nice to meet you Mr. Morihei? Hows it goin Ueshiba?
As Jun noted, it's not what you would call HIM, but what he would call himself. FWIW, I've read several accounts in Japanese of people meeting Morihei Ueshiba in which he introduces himself in the normal Japanese fashion - ie, a plain "I'm Ueshiba".

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-08-2003, 05:08 PM   #16
erikmenzel
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I sometimes run into people that:[list=a]
[*]Call themselves sensei and imply that I should as well.
[*]Are not any of my teachers.
[*]Train for half the time I trained or less.
[*]Suck bigtime.
[/list=a]

I usualy let them be. I call them by their name. After I trained with them they suddenly avoid me. And I notice the spread weird rumors about me.

Probably calling yourself sensei can be one of the signs of a bigger problem.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 01-08-2003, 07:04 PM   #17
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Calling oneself "sensei" would be as narcissistic as saying "ore-sama" or in English "My honorable self".

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 01-08-2003, 09:23 PM   #18
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
As to whether 'kyoushi' is an appropriate term to use, this has nothing to do with usage concerning honorifics, but with accepted job categories. I am not a kyoushi (which means something like 'lecturer') in my university, so I cannot use the term. In any case, an aikido kyoushi would be someone who lectures in aikido at an academic institution or technical college. In my own dojo here I am the 'sekininsha' (person responsible) and my two colleagues would be 'shidoin'. But 'Aikido o shidou suru' (I teach aikido) sounds less presumptuous than giving oneself an 'official' job category (I am an aikido teacher).

djm: Interesting. As usual. Thank you.

Finally, pressure of work prevents me from making any further contributions to this forum (and the AJ forum) for the next few months.

djm: I'm not the only one who will miss you. I look forward to your return.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 01-08-2003, 11:17 PM   #19
YEME
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translation

i get when sensei introduces himself/herself to new students as e.g. Sensei John

(to english speakers putting sensei at end is like saying I am Thompson Mrs. isn't it?)

But introducing oneself as Sensei is just plain ego IMHO. Haven't run into that yet. It would be like those people who refer to themselves in third person.

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
--Isaac Asimov

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Old 01-08-2003, 11:31 PM   #20
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Re: translation

Quote:
Anna Thompson (YEME) wrote:
i get when sensei introduces himself/herself to new students as e.g. Sensei John
This is exactly what I believe what Erik was referring to in his original post. As I wrote, I think it's odd to hear such ("Hi, I'm John sensei.")
Quote:
(to english speakers putting sensei at end is like saying I am Thompson Mrs. isn't it?)
No, it's natural to say something like "Smith sensei" in Japanese (in the same manner as "Smith san"). It's unnatural (as well as, basically, grammatical incorrect in Japanese) to hear "sensei Smith."

Perhaps as a data point to all of this, I'll say that my current teacher who is Japanese introduces himself to people, even aikido folks, by his first name. When he leaves a message on the phone, he'll call himself by his first name. When he signs his e-mail (in Japanese to me, at least), he'll usually sign it with his first or last name.

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Old 01-09-2003, 01:23 AM   #21
YEME
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eh

isn't that the same though when they introduce others as e.g. 'Heiko san' but never use 'san' after their own name to introduce themselves.

I know its not correct to stick the sensei at the front but us poor shleps who don't speak japanese usually don't know any better.

those who do probably feel as awkward as the high school teacher who introduces himself as 'Mr.Smith' instead of Paul Smith.

I'm not supporting it but i do understand it.

Its got a whole new meaning in english...and does taking aikido classes mean I have to learn Japanese as well?

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
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Old 01-09-2003, 07:38 AM   #22
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Re: eh

Quote:
Anna Thompson (YEME) wrote:
isn't that the same though when they introduce others as e.g. 'Heiko san' but never use 'san' after their own name to introduce themselves.
Basically.
Quote:
Its got a whole new meaning in english...and does taking aikido classes mean I have to learn Japanese as well?
I wouldn't consider knowing how to address oneself (and others) in the art you're learning as having to learn an entirely different language. I'd say it's just part of the etiquette to know how to address yourself and others. I'm sure the same happens when you're learning something like medicine, ballet, and other such endeavors. It only takes a few seconds to understand "Don't call yourself sensei" and "When addressing others, use 'Such-and-such sensei' rather than 'sensei Such-and-such'"...

Of course, if you didn't know such a rule, you can't fault someone for not knowing. But, just as many people in a foreign country appreciate it immensely (like I've experienced in Germany, Spain, and Thailand) when you try to speak their language, I'd say the same can be said here.

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Old 01-09-2003, 06:31 PM   #23
YEME
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sorry Jun.

I was just being facetious.

I do agree with you.

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
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Old 02-04-2003, 11:17 PM   #24
Largo
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In Japanese, you wouldn't call yourself any kind of "Sensei". Most people would say that they instruct (whatever). Kyoushi is only used for school teachers (elementary to high school), and there is another term for college professors (which I forget).

I could understand this if it was used as part of a new student's introduction (i.e. in other arts I recieved a pamphlet saying to call the teachers sensei or Mr/Ms/Mrs whatever.) However, in something out of context I don't think it should be used (mainly because it would look kinda silly.)
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