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One Sensei Per Dojo

Each dojo will usually have only one sensei. The sensei is the head of the dojo.

There may be quite senior people in the dojo who would not be addressed as sensei, unless they have their own dojo. Thus, a shodan with a dojo might be addressed as "Sensei" while a rokudan who assists the head instructor might not be addressed as "Sensei" even though his is senior to the shodan. This is simply how it is in some dojo.

In other dojo, all yudansha (black belts holders) are called sensei.

In Japan, elders are also called "sensei". The term is not limited to Karate.

If you are in doubt, it is probably best to address seniors as "sensei." If they instruct you not to do so, then you can ask about the proper way to address them.

When you address a sensei, it is best to bow, even if slightly. Remember that you are showing respect to the position as well as the person.


Charles C. Goodin