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Thread: Friend or Teacher

  1. #1
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    Default Friend or Teacher

    Just reading around the forum and I started thinking.
    There are basically three schools of thought regarding
    how to address your instructor:
    1 Sensei
    2 The highest title they have (Renshi, Kyoshi, Dai-Ni-Soke)
    3 Just casually by their first name.

    My question is as a society are we becoming more socially lax
    or just don't care about showing respect.
    For example I was taught to always address someone older than
    me as Mr., Mrs. or whatever until they told me otherwise.
    This is something I do till this day, Also I am reminded every time
    I go down south that some people still use Sir and Ma'am (sp) for
    someone they don't know.

    I believe that using these titles bring some sort of "order" to things
    a kind of "knowing your place" feeling like the saying goes,
    “Familiarity breeds contempt”

    I am reminded of what one of my instructors said:
    “I am not your friend, I am your teacher” kind of falls in line
    with the idea of being a parent to your kids and not their “friend”.

    Basically what I’m asking is are we so eager to be everybody’s friend
    that we sacrifice our roles as teachers and students?

    Just a thought.

    (Mods if this is in the wrong forum please move it to a more appropriate
    place.)
    Joe Stitz

    "Black belt and white belt are the same, white belt is the beginning of technique. Black belt is the beginning of understanding. Both are beginner belts."
    - Doug Perry -Hanshi, KuDan -Shorin Ryu ShorinKan

  2. #2
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    Freindship has its place in the Budo heirarchy. A mentor of mine reminds that "Budo begins and ends with Reiho (manners)". In other words, when dealing with matters involving martial arts, be respectful and use appropriate titles. When shooting the bull, it should not be required, unless your teacher has a "god complex".
    Jason Chambers
    Owner,
    Tatsujin Photography & Design

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Chambers
    Freindship has its place in the Budo heirarchy. A mentor of mine reminds that "Budo begins and ends with Reiho (manners)". In other words, when dealing with matters involving martial arts, be respectful and use appropriate titles. When shooting the bull, it should not be required, unless your teacher has a "god complex".
    I completely agree.
    I was wondering, as with anything else, where do you draw the line.
    What was the age difference between you and your mentor?
    I am almost 40 years younger than my instructor, and calling him
    by his first name as if we where life long buddies just seems inappropriate.
    Even when we are "shooting the bull" there still is that sense of a student
    and teacher relationship.

    I guess the devil is in the details.
    Joe Stitz

    "Black belt and white belt are the same, white belt is the beginning of technique. Black belt is the beginning of understanding. Both are beginner belts."
    - Doug Perry -Hanshi, KuDan -Shorin Ryu ShorinKan

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    He is 3 or 4 years my senior... but age shouldn't matter in Budo. A senior in the dojo is still a senior regardless of age.
    Jason Chambers
    Owner,
    Tatsujin Photography & Design

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    Quote Originally Posted by JS3
    I completely agree.
    I was wondering, as with anything else, where do you draw the line.
    What was the age difference between you and your mentor?
    I am almost 40 years younger than my instructor, and calling him
    by his first name as if we where life long buddies just seems inappropriate.
    Even when we are "shooting the bull" there still is that sense of a student
    and teacher relationship.

    I guess the devil is in the details.
    I don't have a rule on what my students may or may not call me. I am uncomfortable with the term sensei so I discourage that.

    Most of them call me Mike, but sometimes they call me Mr. Philippus, and almost always address me with a sir.

    But I don't insist on anything in particular.

    Like I always say "You can call me whatever you want just don't call me late for supper!"

    ~edit if they do call me sensei which happens once in a while I don't usually say anything. It is not that big a deal to me.
    Michael Philippus

    Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.

  6. #6
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    For me, it's pretty simple. I don't accept anyone as a student unless I see traits in them that I would seek in someone as a friend. Now, whether we become close friends or not doesn't really matter. In some cases you do, in some you don't.

    What matters is the student accepts you as a mentor in what you are teaching, and you do what you can to live up to that. As a student, you try to understand what your sensei is trying to communicate to you and try live up to expecations. Essentially, "Don't be a jerk." goes both ways.

    What can easily happen is the line gets too blurred for some people. I'm treated slightly differently on the mat by the guys in the TNBBC than off that mat when we are at the pub. I tend to think it's a matter of the instructor determining the line, and the instrucor's behavior, skills, and personality encourages or discourages how the student behaves. Frankly, it's no different than leadership skills in any group.

    I view the subject as extended family by choice, with some hard filtering of who gets to be in that family. I have blood relatives I can't stand, and don't associate with, other blood relatives I respect and spend time with. In the dojo and student setting, I try to make sure the % of those I do want to spend time with is as close to 100% as possible. Can't always be right though, so you just do the best you can to get those who share similar goals and mindset as to what the purpose of training is for with the group.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Yamamoto
    For me, it's pretty simple. I don't accept anyone as a student unless I see traits in them that I would seek in someone as a friend. Now, whether we become close friends or not doesn't really matter. In some cases you do, in some you don't.

    What matters is the student accepts you as a mentor in what you are teaching, and you do what you can to live up to that. As a student, you try to understand what your sensei is trying to communicate to you and try live up to expecations. Essentially, "Don't be a jerk." goes both ways.

    What can easily happen is the line gets too blurred for some people. I'm treated slightly differently on the mat by the guys in the TNBBC than off that mat when we are at the pub. I tend to think it's a matter of the instructor determining the line, and the instrucor's behavior, skills, and personality encourages or discourages how the student behaves. Frankly, it's no different than leadership skills in any group.

    I view the subject as extended family by choice, with some hard filtering of who gets to be in that family. I have blood relatives I can't stand, and don't associate with, other blood relatives I respect and spend time with. In the dojo and student setting, I try to make sure the % of those I do want to spend time with is as close to 100% as possible. Can't always be right though, so you just do the best you can to get those who share similar goals and mindset as to what the purpose of training is for with the group.
    What he said
    Michael Philippus

    Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.

  8. #8
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    Cool Great question

    My kids started training at my dojo before I did and because of that I developed a different sort of relationship with my Sensei at first. He asked that I call him Steve and I had my boys call him Sensei. They have always done so from the beginning. After a number of months he convinced me to take up Karate again after a long absence and so I did.

    I now am trying to break my habit of calling him by his first name. I'm doing okay but I still slip every now and then. He is only about 10 or so years my senior but I believe that out of a sign of respect I should call him Sensei. My wife calls him Steve.

    K. Allen
    Kevin S. Allen
    Newport News, Va.
    www.shotokanvirginia.com

    The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.

    Ulysses S. Grant

  9. #9
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    I don't insist on being called sensei simply becuase I'm not Japanese. I've had students who come from so called "traditional" dojos who want to do it and if they are happy then that is fine.

    I've a name though and it can be used.

    Respect between student and teacher need not be about title, one wins respect from students by doing and showing things, explaining and sharing knowledge.

    If that makes me socially lax then so be it but bear in mind if I train under a Japanese teacher such as Suzuki sensei then I'd use sensei (call him Hanshi and I think he'd throttle me even though he is one). Likewise if I go into a dojo with a western instructor who wishes to be addressed as sensei then I will out of respect for the fact I am in his or her dojo.

    Simple really.

  10. #10
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    Default My Approach

    Basically I approach like this (or try)

    Teacher--Sensei

    Sr. Student--Mr. [last name] (exceptions if person has said so)

    Same rank--1st name.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ken harding
    I don't insist on being called sensei simply becuase I'm not Japanese. I've had students who come from so called "traditional" dojos who want to do it and if they are happy then that is fine.

    Respect between student and teacher need not be about title, one wins respect from students by doing and showing things, explaining and sharing knowledge.


    Simple really.
    I feel the same. If a title is used to ensure respect then that, to me, is a narrow approach to what I am teaching. Earning student respect is a matter of doing the right thing when teaching by way of technique and life philosophy. Even my young students use my first name and as a school teacher, who always has students use the term Mr, I have no difficulty with this in the dojo. I'm there to have fun too.

    I only knew my sensei by his first name for many years and only when he became involved with international organisations that basically insisted on titles did we change, but only on the mats. Interestingly enough he trained under Japanese teachers in the 1920's and 30's and never knew their first names. Always addressed them as Sensei.

    If all that counts is the title then is all that you have to offer?

    Greg Palmer

    Tsutsumi Ryu Ju Jutsu

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    As long as the relationship is respectful, I believe the name can be anything from Sensei, Ms., Mr. or Sir Mam or even firstname. It is probably the way we address our teacher in our behaviour that matters more then the actual name.. Having said that, I personally like the way we address each other in our Dojo, it is more formal, so a Sir and Mam is the usual together with Ms or Mr for the students.
    Norbert Funke
    日本人では無い
    http://saw.wikia.com

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    What I've learned for the teacher is

    -In class it's sensei.
    -In the dojo, not during class, sensei works fine too.
    -In the supermarket, in a pub, at a birthday party, don't use sensei or you get a wince and a really strange look. That plus the really strange looks from everyone around you...
    Trevor Johnson

    Low kicks and low puns a specialty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor Johnson
    What I've learned for the teacher is
    -In the supermarket, in a pub, at a birthday party, don't use sensei or you get a wince and a really strange look. That plus the really strange looks from everyone around you...
    Bowing can have the same effect.

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    Not to get totally esoteric (although I obviously will with THAT intro), but the students teach us as much as we teach them. I find myself addressing them as respectfully as they address me: To them, I am Shihan Montana. To me, they are Shihan Pat, Debbie, David, Bonnie, etc., etc. That is why my school is called Masters' Dojo. (Yes -- I teach Kung Fu & Tai-Chi, but I also teach Reiki, so I don't have to call it Masters' Kwoon.)

    And after teaching, I go home and pray everyone lives up to the title, including me. (And yes, I do bow to my Self in the mirror. Totally ridiculous.)

    Thank you, Masters.
    NLMontana Freemăn

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