What is Karate Teacher Called?

What is Karate Teacher Called? (Explained)

Karate has been around for centuries. But what is a Karate teacher or instructor called?

The Karate class teacher is usually called Sensei (先生) or Senpai (先輩). Sensei means “teacher” or “master” in Japanese. The teacher can also be referred to as Senpai if they are not yet a black belt.

Let’s take a deeper look into the terms Sensei and Senpai and the differences between these two.

What is a Karate teacher called?

A Karate teacher or instructor is most often called Sensei. Sensei means “teacher” or “master”. Sensei can also be directly translated into “born first” or “one who has gone before”.

In order for a Karate teacher can be called a Sensei, they should have a black belt. Back when I practiced Karate, our teacher was a different person each week.

Only the black belts were called “Sensei” and the ones who did not yet have a black belt were called “Senpai”.

What is a dojo teacher called?

Dojos are usually places where you practice Japanese martial arts. Most commonly, the teachers of Japanese martial arts are called Sensei, which means “teacher” or “master”.

The teachers could also be called “Senpai” if they do not yet have a black belt, but are still instructing the class.

If you are not familiar with the term “dojo”, here is a post where we go through explaining what a dojo is and how it differs from a regular gym.

What does Sensei mean?

Sensei generally means “master” or “teacher” when talking about Japanese martial arts.

Other translations of the word “Sensei” can be “Person born before one” or “one who comes before”. The term Sensei can be used for a person, who is teaching Japanese martial arts, or on any other occasion, where the person is master at something and is teaching others.

What does Senpai mean?

Senpai means “Senior” and can be used in Karate and other martial arts to refer to someone, who has more experience.

The difference between Sensei and Senpai is that Sensei is the one teaching others, whereas Senpai can be anyone, who holds a higher rank or has been practicing for longer.

Back when I used to practice Karate as a child, we would have a different instructor for each week’s class. The instructors who were not yet black belts were referred to as Senpais. This is because they were not yet masters of Karate (Black belts).

What is the difference between Sensei and Senpai?

The difference between Sensei and Senpai is that Sensei means “master” or “teacher”, whereas Senpai means “senior”.

Therefore, one Karate class could generally have only one Sensei, that is running the lesson, but a lot of “senpai”s, since there can be a lot of practitioners, that have been training longer than you.

In short, the teacher is called Sensei, whereas you can call pretty much anyone with more experience than you Senpai.

It is not typical to call every person in your Karate gym Senpai, even if they have been practicing for longer.

Usually, Senpai is used when the teacher is not yet a black belt or “master” in martial art.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, you should call your Karate teacher Sensei, if not instructed otherwise. Sensei means “master” or “teacher”.

Karate teachers could also be referred to as Senpai, which means “senior”, if they are not yet black belt.

This is how it was done back in the Dojo where I was practicing. The policy might be different in different gyms, but this is how I have seen it go.

Hopefully this was helpful, have a wonderful day.

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