I’ve heard many people called the seniors students ‘senpai’ (先輩) which literally means ‘senior’. I’ve myself called some of my senior Karetekas senpai as well.
But when Aishah called me that , it dawned to me that I am that senpai in my fellow Aikdioka’s opinion. Its an uneasy reality for me, as i always see myself as just a short, funny fella who wears a skirt-like garment in class.
My relationship with my fellow Aikdiokas is very existentialistic, i should say. I am not a grade to them, even though i do possess a deeper technical knowledge than my juniors. and I never seriously thought that i am looked up upon in this manner. I am aware that the juniors are observing me and I have a certain ‘standards’ to uphold, but i’ve never seen myself as a ‘senpai.’ much less being called one.
What I know that my juniors don’t i always share with them, not to prove that i have superior knowledge, its just a spontaneous sharing. At times, although rarely, i chastised the newbies when they are not aware of the dojo protocol, but i can hardly consider myself a ‘senpai’.
When i was younger, i would reject such ‘labels’ outright, and straight talked ‘just call me Randy! that is already a label too heavy for me to bear!’ Now I reflect with curiosity. Well, sometimes, what people called you cannot be helped, i should be thankful that i am called a ‘senpai’ rather something else.