Hombu Dojo 1968

Hombu Dojo 1968

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Don't say "my deshi"

In Japanese culture and of course in Japanese martial arts, you may sometimes come across the term "deshi". Some people mistakenly think that deshi means simply pupil or disciple and use it inappropriately. A teacher should never say "my deshi" or refer to his own student using the term deshi

Saying "this is my deshi" is just like saying "I am a sensei".

Another common term is uchideshi which means a disciple who lives at his sensei's house or at the dojo. The life of an uchideshi is completely devoted to the art, the dojo and the teacher.

A matter of attitude
Deshi means a very serious and dedicated disciple: one with significant sense of responsibility to the dojo, with a commitment to the learning process and with sincere relationship with the teacher. Not every dojo member is a deshi. Whether you are a deshi or being "just" a member at the dojo, depends on your attitude.

Humbleness 謙虚

Humbleness is one of the most important characteristics of Japanese culture. It is common to praise others, but not yourself. A Japanese sensei could refer to himself or herself as an instructor (kyoshi or shidosa in example) or as someone who teaches, but never as a Sensei. We, the students are the ones who refer to him or her as Sensei or Shihan

"Let another man praise thee and not thine own mouth"
When we talk about someone else's students, we can call them deshi, or even better: odeshi san which is more respectful. When we talk about our own students, we should humbly call them kaiin (members) or seito (students).

Our teacher - Shimamoto Katsuyuki Shihan talked recently about this subject, and he told us that he never heard any of his great teachers use the term deshi when referring to their own students.

Sensei and deshi - A teacher and disciples

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