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cheesefrysamurai
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 06 Mar 2013
Posts: 502
Location: New Jersey
Styles: Okinawan Goju Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:06 pm    Post subject: Senpai? Reply with quote

Is there a responsibility involved with being a Senpai?

I know some that don’t give it consideration and I know others that assume a responsibility and take it seriously
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1852

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends on the training culture and environment of each dojo. Each one will be different as to what is expected according to how the main instructor has decided to approach teaching. It will also depend on how an instructor deals with everyone in the dojo as well as affiliations if any.

With that out of the way, the word “sempai” means “senior” in Japanese. Japanese society is extremely hierarchical and knowing where one stands in relation to everyone else is of the greatest importance.

In the context of a dojo, the senior students would be expected to assist teaching whenever required and serve as examples of what to achieve in order to progress. In Okinawa and Japan, the first thing one is expected to do is learn techniques and kata from those with more time in training.

One must try to copy them and be taught by them first, and then be corrected and given more fine tuning by the sensei. How closely that is followed will of course vary from one teacher to another and the number of members training at one time.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15326
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spartacus Maximus wrote:
It depends on the training culture and environment of each dojo. Each one will be different as to what is expected according to how the main instructor has decided to approach teaching. It will also depend on how an instructor deals with everyone in the dojo as well as affiliations if any.

With that out of the way, the word “sempai” means “senior” in Japanese. Japanese society is extremely hierarchical and knowing where one stands in relation to everyone else is of the greatest importance.

In the context of a dojo, the senior students would be expected to assist teaching whenever required and serve as examples of what to achieve in order to progress. In Okinawa and Japan, the first thing one is expected to do is learn techniques and kata from those with more time in training.

One must try to copy them and be taught by them first, and then be corrected and given more fine tuning by the sensei. How closely that is followed will of course vary from one teacher to another and the number of members training at one time.

Solid post!!



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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28793
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Spartacus in that in will differ from school to school. In TKD, we don't have 'senpai' per se, but we look to our higher ranked colored belt students in a similar way. As an instructor, I expect the senior students to be good examples as far as working hard in class and how they take instruction, and expect them to be able to assist any lower ranked student with any and all material they are required to know (otherwise, why have that rank?). I don't necessarily expect them to teach new material to students; I'd prefer to do that, and then I allow them to help the students with the material from then on out.
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DWx
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 6381
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bushido_man96 wrote:
I agree with Spartacus in that in will differ from school to school. In TKD, we don't have 'senpai' per se, but we look to our higher ranked colored belt students in a similar way. As an instructor, I expect the senior students to be good examples as far as working hard in class and how they take instruction, and expect them to be able to assist any lower ranked student with any and all material they are required to know (otherwise, why have that rank?). I don't necessarily expect them to teach new material to students; I'd prefer to do that, and then I allow them to help the students with the material from then on out.

I think it depends school to school. I've been at schools where the most senior student (sunbae) in class is responsible for organising the students, bowing everyone in, warm ups etc.

I do something similar in my school though generally the sunbae is a higher grade colour belt or a blackbelt I've asked to come along to assist me.
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
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Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1852

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a personal rule to avoid embarrassment when visiting different dojo of various martial arts, being polite to everyone has never failed. Until one learns the protocol for a particular dojo, general polite forms of address are always acceptable.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28793
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spartacus Maximus wrote:
As a personal rule to avoid embarrassment when visiting different dojo of various martial arts, being polite to everyone has never failed. Until one learns the protocol for a particular dojo, general polite forms of address are always acceptable.


You'll never go wrong with that approach, for sure.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28793
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DWx wrote:
bushido_man96 wrote:
I agree with Spartacus in that in will differ from school to school. In TKD, we don't have 'senpai' per se, but we look to our higher ranked colored belt students in a similar way. As an instructor, I expect the senior students to be good examples as far as working hard in class and how they take instruction, and expect them to be able to assist any lower ranked student with any and all material they are required to know (otherwise, why have that rank?). I don't necessarily expect them to teach new material to students; I'd prefer to do that, and then I allow them to help the students with the material from then on out.

I think it depends school to school. I've been at schools where the most senior student (sunbae) in class is responsible for organising the students, bowing everyone in, warm ups etc.

I do something similar in my school though generally the sunbae is a higher grade colour belt or a blackbelt I've asked to come along to assist me.


I have seen that done in other schools I've attended, as well. I think it's good preparation for working towards the instructor ranks.
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1852

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Experience with Okinawan and Japanese run dojo usually expect the most senior student to be “instructors-in-training”. Depending what the individual dojo requirements, usually from third dan and above students are taught the basics of how to teach and might be asked to take over a few minor teaching duties. This was, in personal experience, quite common in Okinawa.

As a third Dan, teaching and preparing lower ranks for upcoming exams was implied and expected. This meant the sensei judged and trusted that a third dan had the skills and knowledge to faithfully represent the style/system to that degree.
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Nidan Melbourne
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 21 Aug 2013
Posts: 2265
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Styles: Goju-Ryu, BJJ, Balintawak Arnis

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At my club your a Sempai in any way possible as an instructor or student.

In our adults classes, when all grades are working together, we will partner advanced students with beginners. And rotate around so beginners to work with others and the advanced get to work on it too
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