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Ending Letters

As Karate students, we have to be courteous at all times. One of the important things to be careful about is sending letters and email. People tend to be more relaxed and informal, in particular, when sending email.

You might have noticed that I end each of these posts the same:


Charles C. Goodin"

This may sound rather bland, but I have to be careful. The people who read this blog may be senior sensei (whether I know them or not). I would not want to sound disrespectful to my seniors. But I also feel that respect is owed to juniors. Respect does not only go up -- we should respect all people.

Sometimes people put a tag line after their signature. I often see these. Imagine that I am sending a formal email to my Karate senior and I sign it as follows:


John Doe

I can't steer without my beer!"

No matter how politely I wrote the email, the tag line will make me look rather silly, and possibly disrespectful.

Another thing I often observe is the use of the title "sensei" by the person himself. I would not consider it to be proper to end a letter as follows:


Sensei (Hanshi, Kyoshi, Renshi, Shihan, Soke, Professor, etc.) John Doe"

Titles are used by other people to address us (possibly), not by us to describe ourselves.

If you are polite 99 times and disrespectful once, what do you think people will remember?

When addressing a letter, it is probably best to use the proper title for the addressee. Let us say that John Doe is a Soke. It would be best to open the letter by writing:

Dear Soke Doe,

It would not be a good idea to write:

Hey John!

I have seen this happen. Sometimes the address can become quite upset. Of course, titles are trivial when compared to actual Karate training and the practice of Karate ideals in daily life. Getting upset about titles is silly. But we should try our best to be respectful, particulary to our seniors who are kind enough to teach us.


Charles C. Goodin