We are making some adjustments to our basic terminology used to address higher degree Black Belts at Bernardo Karate.
Currently, we use “Sempai” for all Black Belt assistant instructors except for “Shihan” which means Master Instructor. We also use “Sensei” for all school location head instructors, such as Sensei Tom Roberts at our Dearness Studio. The changes we will adopt are that all 2nd degree Black belts (Nidan) or higher degrees will be referred to as “Sensei”. All junior Black belts and first degree Black belts will remain “Sempai”. To help identify which Black belts have attained the rank of second degree and higher, students will have gold bars embroidered on to their black belts.
Shihan will also be awarding the title of “Renshi” to some of our Black belts. The title of Renshi will be identified by a Red and White horizontal coloured belt. Renshi means “polished Instructor” and can be awarded to Black belts 4th degree and higher. This title is based solely on the ability to be an effective teacher. Not all 4th, 5th and 6th degrees will be rewarded this title.
We will be collecting black belts later this month for embroidery (or Instructors will have the option of purchasing another Black Belt).
One final note: we realize this will take some time and there will be an adjustment period for all students and parents. It is never an insult to use the wrong title because all of them carry “respect.”