what is the meaning of “sensei” , ” sempai” and “shihan” in english?

13 Answers

  • Sensei Means person born before another or former born.

    Senpai means senior student.

    Shihan-dai Title used to designate someone that is considered to be a low ranked master. It is the lowest title for a master and is not always used. This title is usually not awarded before 4th dan.

    Shihan means chief instructor. The title is usually awarded at the 5th dan level. Many styles award it at 4th dan. It is not considered proper to award the title below 4th dan.

    Renshi means masters title roughly akin to saying “Polished Expert”. In most arts the title is reserved for 6th dan or higher. However it has been awarded at lower and higher ranks.

    Kyoshi means masters title roughly akin to saying “Master of Masters”. Kyoshi is usually reserved for those at 7th dan or above.

    Hanshi means masters title usually reserved for 8th dan. In some organizations it may be given to the headmaster of the Ryu/style. In some cases it is awarded as an honorary title for those ahving a minimum age of about 60.

  • Daoshi nailed this one. I'll only add that my definition for Sensei is worded a little differently. We were taught that Sensei means, "He who has gone before". It is meant to indicate someone that has vast knowledge, ability and incite into the style. He is one that can "Show the Way" to others less experienced. However, a Sensei is far from being a master. He is at a level of understanding that he can not only teach the techniques correctly, he can easily spot mistakes and flaws in the students techniques and application of the techniques. Generally the public is told that Sensei means Teacher or instructor. That is correct in that a Sensei does in fact teach. Also in the Japanese culture many different professions use the title in everyday life. A School Teacher, or a medical Doctor is also called Sensei. BUT, the use of the word in the Martial arts is meant to indicate someone of greater knowledge and expereince than the word Sensei as it applies to non martial arts titles. So bottom line here is that saying that Sensei means Teacher does not do the title justice as far as the martial arts are concerned.

    NOTE: Sensei, Shihan, and the other martial arts titles are never assumed due to number of years of training, or age. They are correctly only correctly used when they are issued in writing by the martial arts organization / Headquarters. So bottom line is no one becomes a Sensei, Shihan, ...etc. just because they are a certain rank. If that were true then everyone would assume the same title when they reached that minimum rank. Unfortunately the details of what is and what is not a Sensei, (or any of the other titles) is either not taught, or more likely not understood. This is why you see some schools that have many people that are using the titles, when in fact traditionally only one or two in a school should have the titles. In the 1960's you almost never found a school that had anyone with a Sempai (also spelled Senpai). now i often see dojo that are handing the Senpai title out to everyone that helps teach in any way. This is wrong and should not happen. In general Japanese and Okinawan styles have begun to overuse the titles. Many have no idea what the real qualification for such titles should be. not to put down Korean arts, But they borrowed the ranks system and belts from the Japanese. But they seem to know even less often what is and is not a Master. Many Korean styles/schools now award or assume that anyone reaching 4th degree black belt is a Master. That is just incorrect and should never happen.

    Sempai (Also spelled Senpai) is a title meaning Senior student, as in someone that is your senior. It is most often used to indicate a student that is below black belt. this person is someone that assist in the classes, but is far from being a Sensei. Again Dojo should have one or two Sempai at most. not dozens. The title is also used within the Black Belt ranks, but is not used as often for those ranks.

    Shihan Is a generic masters title. It is akin to a Doctors degree when compared to westernized thinking. Again everyone does not eventually receive the title. The organization awards it only to a few individuals of very high knowledge, ability, and incite. it is always someone who is very active in teaching the style and has made great contributions to the growth of the style.

    There are other Masters titles. A few are Renshi, Kyoshi, Hanshi, O-Sensei, Soke-Dai, Soke. These have their own description and generally are awarded at certain rank levels, if given at all.

    Hope this helps shed some light on the subject of titles, what they are, and what they are not...

    These things are not often taught in martial arts schools. When they are, they are often not taught correctly, or in a way to show their deeper meanings....


  • Sempai Meaning

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    Several languages are involved here. The first part of the word is Urdu and means "leg" but this word also comes more remotely from the Persian language, ancestor of modern Farsi. The second part comes from the Hindi word meaning clothing. However, especially since the languages are closely related, you will often see that the whole word is either Urdu, Hindi, or Persian in origin. a pair of loose trousers tied by a drawstring around the waist; worn by men and women in some Asian countries Pyjama Py*ja"ma, n. [Hind. p[=a]e-j[=a]ma, literally, leg clothing. In India and Persia, thin loose trowsers or drawers; in Europe and America, drawers worn at night, or a kind of nightdress with legs. Source: The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48

  • A pyjama or a pajama is an important piece of clothing, worn by both man and woman. Normally, it is a loose and comfortable drawstring pants, made of light fabrics. However, in places like Britain and United States, the term applies to sleeping suits and consists of a loose front-buttoned jacket and a trouser. These days, pajamas or pj’s signify anything, from flamboyant beach trousers to airy boxers. More often than not, any item of male sleepwear today is synonymous to a pajama. Still, the traditional pyjamas consist of a combination of jacket and a pair of trousers alongside. the word ‘pyjama’ traces its etymological origin to the Persian word ‘payjama’, meaning ‘leg garment’. However, it was first incorporated into English from the Hindustani language

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    what is the meaning of "sensei" , " sempai" and "shihan" in english?

  • Sensei = the one before.

    Sempai = senior classmate.

    Shihan = Master Instructor.

  • Sensei - Prior Person "One who has come before."

    Sempai - Prior Student, "Senior Student"

    Kouhai - "Junior Student"

    Shihan - "Instructor"

    Shihan doesn't mean "Master Instructor" however if you need a distinction, there is only one Sensei, the highest ranked teacher.

    A sensei can have various underlings:





    Shihan-Dai - Assistant Instructor.

    More often, in Karate people are generally called "Sensei" at about 3rd Dan, this is incorrect as this rank is apporximately Shidoin (a lesser term for an instructor) followed by Shihan - Renshi (accomplished Instructor) - Hanshi - Taishi (Master Instructor).

    Ranking is pretty bizarre, especially in translation and the Western concept of Teachers and Coaches.

  • Daoshi Karate choped me, Jim R, Pugspaw and Frank the tank My brain:)

  • perfect answer from Daoshi. -- It would have been nice to give the answer first, but I've been dealing with too many problems related to my disability lately to answer everything I want to share.

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