I was surfing on the web the other day and stumbled on a karate video on Youtube where a teacher referred to himself as “zokucho”; then another one where a different teacher called himself “gunshi”. I almost fell out of my seat laughing. It was an absolutely brilliant display of using  Japanese completely wrong.

Anyway back to Mr. Gunshi and Mr. Zokucho who I am assuming are using the romanization of the kanji 軍師 and 族長. I find this funny because in the case of zokucho it’s a bit archaic and can refer to a tribe or clan chief. Kind of reminds me of my Celtic ancestors (^_-).

In all seriousness I bring this up because I wish teachers would stop using these ridiculous terms: hanshi, kyoshi, renshi, shihan, tasshi, soke, doshu, saiko-shihan, gunshi and now zokucho. I have only ever referred to my instructors as sensei – that’s it. No extra bells and whistles because I know that I would get an angry look or a smack upside the head if I tried to call them some grandiose title.

Karate is grounded in respect, simplicity, and humility. When you use absurd titles after your name you’ve missed the point and it’s time to go home.