Thread: Teaching rank in Judo?
4/11/2013 11:47pm, #1
- Join Date
- Aug 2010
- Portland, OR
Teaching rank in Judo?
One thing that's come up lately in my dojo is the issue of who is a "sensei." Some people say "teaching rank" (the only "senseis" in the club) is fifth dan and above. Others say it is third dan and above.
I usually refer to anyone I know is third dan and above, or anyone with a black belt I don't know, as "sensei [first name]." But that's just been my practice, I could be completely out of line.
To avoid the waters being muddied, the bylaws of the dojo say nothing on the point of "teaching rank." The question would be answered exclusively via what the Kodokan gives as guidance or what is generally accepted.
4/12/2013 8:16am, #2
in *japan* no one under 5th dan is an instructor, but that doesn't carry over to other countries.
your dojo will have its own customs and the ones followed elsewhere are not really relevant.
in *my* dojo, the 8th dan sensei is referred to as sensei, and his 5th dan son is referred to as sensei when he is leading class, but not otherwise. no other black belts are called sensei regardless of rank, but that's just *my* dojo. you have to find out what is correct in yours. i would ask the head sensei."Face punches are an essential character building part of a martial art. You don't truly love your children unless you allow them to get punched in the face." - chi-conspiricy
"When I was a little boy, I had a sailor suit, but it didn't mean I was in the Navy." - Mtripp on the subject of a 5 year old karate black belt
"Without actual qualifications to be a Zen teacher, your instructor is just another roundeye raping Asian culture for a buck." - Errant108
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4/12/2013 9:46am, #3
Calling someone sensei is a show of great respect given to a worthy teacher, so anyone claiming the title as their own (e.g. "call me sensei, I'm teaching today") just needs a solid punch in the face and be sent to the back of the line, in my humble opinion.
The number of folks who self-describe as "sifu" or "sensei" makes me sick. It is supposed to be earned through hard work and respect, not something you choose for yourself. So much bullshido out there today came about because it is trivial to call yourself "master".
Last edited by W. Rabbit; 4/12/2013 9:53am at .
4/12/2013 10:38am, #4
It really just comes down to whatever is the custom at your dojo. This should be set by your dojo's head instructor. Generally speaking, sensei is a term that indicates a relationship between you and someone else. So it can happen that a dojo has an instructor who is shodan, and he may well be rightly called sensei by his students. If he visits some other dojo they wouldn't call him sensei and he would be a tool to demand it. OTOH a lot of people who are in an instructional position with a lower rank are uncomfortable with being called sensei and keep things less formal.
At some point if the rank is high enough people just start calling you sensei in general, the idea is even if you don't have a personal relationship with that person he is senior enough that he is considered a teacher of everybody. Not just martial arts, either. In Japan university profs are called sensei, etc.
In the judo dojo as a shodan I am just Neil. Two of our instructors are the same rank as me but as they take an active role in teaching they get called sensei occasionally, but more typically just by first name. Generally in our province as soon as someone hits shodan people start throwing the sensei term around but I'm not comfortable with that. If someone calls me sensei I ask them to just call me Neil.
In the kendo dojo most people also just call me Neil but I also get sensei. If I am in a formal setting like a seminar or grading it is consistently sensei. It took me a long time to get comfortable with that title, and pretty much all my friends in my position feel the same way. No Japanese person I know would insist on being called sensei or any other title, although they may take offense if you do not address them correctly. Better to err on the safe side and address any senior person more formally to start. They'll let you know if they prefer it informal.
4/12/2013 2:41pm, #5
Ask the guy/gal who runs the dojo or is considered the head instructor what the custom is there. In our dojo, the little kids all me by my first name or sensei, whatever they like. My own black belt students call me "Ben". The other black belt calls me "sensei", despite my telling him to call me "Ben". But my personal students (shodan) refer to me as their sensei to others.
I think westerners get a lot more hung up on the sensei thing. Some seem to relish calling another person "sensei". Especially in Aikido dojo, sheesh...
Being sensei isn't an honor, it's a very big responsibility when it is approached in the sense of the original meaning of the word. So all you sensei freaks out there chill out and follow the custom of your own dojo.
BenFalling for Judo since 1980
4/12/2013 2:48pm, #6
4/12/2013 3:43pm, #7
4/12/2013 4:04pm, #8
4/12/2013 4:10pm, #9
Judo is better, I get to be pretty much pure student.
Last edited by NeilG; 4/12/2013 4:15pm at .
4/12/2013 6:09pm, #10