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The Title "Sensei"

"Sensei" is a term that your students (and perhaps others) call you. It is not a title that you would use to describe yourself.

If I call someone, I would say, "This is Charles Goodin." I would not say, "this is Goodin Sensei." I would not use the term "Sensei" in connection with my name.

If I were speaking to a sensei, I might refer to him as "Smith Sensei." It is not correct to say "Sensei Smith," nor would I call him "Sensei Bill." Sensei follows the surname. But because of awkwardness of translation, I might introduce Bill Smith as "Sensei Bill Smith."

I would never address my sensei by his name only. In my case, I would address my sensei as "Sensei" or "Shinzato Sensei" (or "Shimabukuro Sensei").

Here in Hawaii, several sensei who are senior to me (by decades) refer to me as sensei when we meet. This does not mean that I am senior to them (certainly not!). It just shows that they are showing respect to another dojo head. The position itself is shown respect.

Don't let titles go to your head. A "Sensei" should have good sense!

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin