Aikibudokan  a school of the martial ways
Main Page | Who We Are | Our Teachers | Our Mission | Our Teaching Philosophy
 Essays | Our Affiliations | FAQ's | Photo Gallery | Public Announcements | Class Enrollment
Contact Us | Ask For InfoAikido Related Links


In-Depth Explanations of Some Common & Not-So-Common Terms:


 
Dojo
Giri
Sempai / Kohai
Sen
Shi-Ki-Shi
Shu-Ha-Ri
Tokui Waza


Dojo

Literally translates as "way place" or a place for learning the way of....what was being taught. The term dojo was borrowed from the Buddhist nomenclature for the halls set aside for both meditation and other spiritual exercises conducted in monasteries and convents. The relationship was in part derived from the structure of both the martial arts school and the monastery. The students lived within the compound as uchi-deshi (apprentices) of the school itself wherein they trained constantly and which they helped to support and maintain in the same manner as did the monks in the monasteries. They strove to live the same life of austerity and dedication to the martial arts as the monks did in their studies. The relationship of student and teacher was very much like that of the apprentice submitting himself to the requirements of the craftsman. Today, the term dojo is commonly used to denote a school which offer instruction in the martial arts. 

 

Giri

Bushido or 'samurai law' is an oversimplification of the samurai law of life and of honour.  It is a code of living ( and dying) that has always been in itself unique to the Japanese people and which can be summarized by the notion of "giri", loosely equivalent to the English words of moral duty, uprightness or rectitude (which is itself essential for personal honor).  Each class of the populace has a particular giri or obligation and the more prestigious the position one has (in society) the more demanding this sense of giri and duty becomes.  The samurai, who were considered to the the uppermost or highest class, were therefore subjected to the most rigorous demands of any class in the feudal social hierarchy

 

  Sempai / Kohai

A traditional method of instruction, similar in some regards to the concept of master and apprentice although generally differing in some important aspects. All beginners and more junior students receive individualized, one-on-one instruction from a more senior student or black belt in the class. This method of hands-on teaching and direct transmission (of knowledge) is functionally very different from more Western methods of class organization which usually can consist of masses of students in a beginners class with few instructors. 

The idea of Sempai/Kohai is definitely that of a teacher/student relationship. However, the Sempai (senior player or teacher) and the Kohai (junior player or student) have a relationship that may or may not be permanent with the same two individuals working together exclusively. In some very small dojos, the relationship may be more fixed but in many dojos, the Sempai is simply a more senior student or teacher who during that class time works with and teaches the more junior of the two. 

The Sempai/Kohai system, we have found, is not only a more traditional approach to instruction, it is a more effective way to transmit and teach martial arts fundamentals.  It is one that permits faster learning and a more rapid rate of advancement. 

 

  Sen

Sen is a term basically used to describe the timing of a technique or more accurately, who takes the initiative in an engagement. This primarily refers to the initiative shown by tori (or the individual executing the technique in question). There are three types of initiative in the martial arts: 

  • Sen-No-Sen (also known as Sen) - Translates as "initiative". Both uke and tori meet but uke (the attacker) does not attack or initiate a movement. Tori, therefore, takes the initiative and starts the engagement. The Ju Nana Hon Kata (17 attack movements) use Sen-No-Sen timing. 
  • Go-No-Sen (also known at Ato-No-Sen) - Translates as "initiative in defense". Uke and tori meet and uke immediately attacks. Tori avoids the initial onslaught before counter-attacking. The Owaza Ju Pon (Big 10 Defensive Movements) use Go-No-Sen timing. 

  • Sen-Sen-No-Sen - Translates as "superior initiative". This is the highest form of timing. Uke and tori meet and tori attacks, taking the initiative during the split second that uke has mentally decided to attack but his body has not yet started the motion. 
     
  Shu Ha Ri

A method of study under a master teacher.

  • Shu or keep means learning kata and principle from the sensei or teacher that you study under and copying the techniques exactly.  This is only the first stage in a long learning process.  With diligent practice you will eventually be able to copy the sensei exactly.
  • Ha or break menas that you have learned the art as a form.  The next step is to learn to apply the techniques through practice and through a study of randori.  As you do so you will find that you will be able to make the techniques "yours" as they adapt themselves to your personal habits, body size and tastes.
  • Ri or leave means that after a lifetime of practice you may be able to see and to put into play your own high level principles and concepts, some of which may differ from what your primary teacher has taught, but all of which will still be based in the principles that you learned from the sensei.
  • A further possible aspect of Shu Ha Ri is that of eventually leaving the original sensei that you studied under and opening your own dojo at which you teach the art form in your own personalized manner.  This is a tradition in the martial arts and indeed is one of the ways in which the art forms have been preserved (as the very senior students leave and begin teaching).

    Many times a senior student will be told to leave as the sensei, having spent many years teaching his deshi (student) recognizes the value of what the student now knows and how the student, soon to become their own sensei will be able to preserve the past and take it into the future.

    An important but often unrecognized aspect of this is that what the student takes with him should remain largely unchanged other than enhancements and improvements in how to teach the principles.  Shu Ha Ri does not provide for the wholesale abandonment of what was originally taught as this would eventually lead to the destruction and loss of the entire art form.

     

      Shi-Ki-Shi (a/k/a Shikishi)

    A poem pertaining to the subject material at hand, in this case the martial arts. The poem, done as calligraphy (Chinese/Japanese ideograms) has special meaning between the giver of the document and the recipient. In the martial arts, this most commonly involves the sempai/kohai relationship (the teacher making an acknowledgement or a gift to the student). The document pertains to friendship and in many regards can be considered an endorsement of someone's teaching skills and understanding of the martial art form in question. 

    Many teachers display a special Shikishi at the front of the dojo as signifying a tacit endorsement of the school (in effect an authenticator of the dojo and of the teacher therein). The document, itself, is not a kaiden (teaching license), does not state that the recipient is heir to the system and does not have the grade of the recipient on it. 

    It is a very personal item, but can have a much larger meaning within the context of the martial arts.  The Shikishi is expressive of the relationship between teacher and student and at the level of "sempai to kohai" or a gift from the teacher to the student contains the endorsement of areas (in the martial art form) beyond that of pure friendship.

     

      Tokui Waza

    Favorite or preferred technique;  considered to be the technique(s) that the subconscious falls back on when under maximum stress and the conscious mind clicks off, putting the martial artist in a state of combative blackout and tunnel vision. This phenomena is commonly seen in competitive matches and competitions when the player is close to oxygen deprivation and the last of the adrenaline hits or when in shock resulting from an actual assault or real life attack on the streets. A tokui waza is what your subconscious chooses.  It comes into play as the basic technique(s) the mind best understands and automatically reverts to when conscious control of the situation is lost ands all actions begin to flow automatically from the subconscious. Almost by definition, it is a limited number of those ideas that are best understood. 

    Any training modality that interrupts the natural acquisition and development of a subconscious and intuitive tokui waza (e.g. competition rules prohibiting the use of specific techniques considered too dangerous for competition) is life threatening.  This is so because without the appropriate response built into the subconscious, the mind will hesitate when under stress and attempting to choose an appropriate response.  As the old saying goes, "He who hesitates is lost".

    top of page
    top of page

    Main Page | Who We Are | Our Teachers | Our Mission | Our Teaching Philosophy
     Essays | Our Affiliations | FAQ's | Photo Gallery | Public Announcements | Class Enrollment
    Contact Us | Ask For InfoAikido Related Links



    Copywrite 2000-2002, Aiki Budo, Inc. All Rights Reserved
    Classes Held at:  5701 Bingle Road, Ste. B-101, Houston, Texas 77097
    Corporate Offices & Mailing Address:  Aiki Budo, Inc. 19751 Twin Canyon Court, Katy, Texas 77450 (281-599-7676)