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"Mrs. Sensei"

I mentioned recently that I sometimes call my Sensei's wife "Mrs. Sensei." The Sensei I am referring to is my Sensei here in Hawaii.

Actually, if I do this I am sort of joking. I usually call her "Aunty."

But if I were to address the wife of my Sensei in Okinawa, I would say, "Mrs. Shinzato." I do the same for the wife of my friend, and senior, Sensei Pat Nakata. I refer to her as "Mrs. Nakata." No matter how many times she asks me to call her by her first name, I don't and won't.

You might wonder why I refer to the wife of my Sensei here in Hawaii as "Aunty," rather than Mrs. Shimabukuro. This is interesting and I cannot quite explain it. I cannot call her by her first name (this would be disrespectful) and it feels a bit too impersonal to refer to her as "Mrs. Shimabukuro" as I have known her and my Sensei for over 35 years. If I were to introduce her to someone, I would say, "Mrs. Shimabukuro." But on the phone, I might say, "Aunty."

Also, my Sensei here in Hawaii and his wife are less than 10 years older than me, while my Sensei in Okinawan is about 10 years older than that. This does not make much difference, but it seems that as the years go by, I am catching up in age!

What is most important, however you call your Sensei's wife (or husband for that matter), is that you are being polite and respectful. The use of the term "Aunty" here in Hawaii connotes respect and closeness.

I have to also say that when I address my own Sensei (both here in Hawaii and in Okinawa), my feeling is both "Sensei" (as in my instructors) and also "Uncle" (as in a close personal relationship marked by respect). I do not use the term "Sensei" in a strictly formal sense when I address them.

This also makes me think about the term "Juku." The feeling of the use of that term in "Kishaba Juku" is a family group. It connotes closeness, a personal group of like minded people, unlike an association or organization per se.

If the structure of your Karate is strict and formal, your movements will be too. Rigid thinking leads to rigid movement.


Charles C. Goodin