Pictured from left to right are Sensei John Frank, Jay Baldwin, Joe Walstrum, and Will Harris. Not shown are Sensei Mark Burton, Dave Stuart, Jodi Canapp and Chase Dews.
The general term for instructor or teacher in any martial arts dojo is "sensei". Some martial arts styles, or ryu, use additional honorary titles to further distinguish one's role or position either within the dojo or within the art. Some examples of these titles are Renshi, Kyoshi, Shihan, and Hanshi. There are many more and their use can vary from ryu to ryu. Our ryu, Budoshin Ju-Jitsu, doesn't officially award these titles. The only title awarded is that of Professor, which sensei are permitted to use once they obtain the rank of shichidan, or 7th degree black belt.
There is often confusion about how to refer to sensei during class. Should you call him/her by their first name, last name, sir/ma'am, sensei, professor, shihan, hanshi, or some combination such as sensei+[first name], sensei+[last name], [last name]+sensei? The best rule of thumb I've found is to refer to anyone teaching as "sensei". It shows the proper respect not only for the person teaching and their achievements, but also respect for the position he/she holds within the class. It is permissable to call someone sensei plus their first or last name (example: "Sensei Will" or "Sensei Harris"). It is also permissable and probably more proper to call someone by their last name plus sensei (example: "Harris Sensei"). At the Baltimore School of Self Defense, I like to think of the dojo as a family and as such, we're often informal when addressing one another and refer to each other as we would outside of class if we're speaking one-on-one. However, in a group situation, it is best to refer to the instructors as Sensei or Sensei+[first name] to further distinguish which sensei you are addressing.
Professor Harris has been studying martial arts for over 30 years. He got his start by tagging along with his older brother who had become interested in trying out a ju-jitsu class at the local YMCA. Life's obligations took his brother in different directions and away from the class, but sensei continued his training, ultimately earning his shodan (1st degree black belt) under Sensei Jim Howard, who had had received his training from Sensei William Fromm. Professor Fromm along with Professor George Kirby, founded Budoshin Ju-Jitsu.
Sensei Jim relocated to California and turned the class over to Professor Wade Susie. Under Professor Susie, Sensei Will Harris continued his training and progressed through the ranks to his current rank of shichidan (7th degree blackbelt) and title of "Professor" in Budoshin Jujitsu. Sensei Will has also earned a 4th degree blackbelt and title of "Master" in American Combat Jujitsu from Professor Tony Maynard.
Throughout his martial arts career, Professor Harris has competed in and judged competitions too numerous to list. He has also attended and taken part in numerous seminars and learned from a multitude of sensei, including but not limited to such notable sensei as George Kirby (Budoshin Jujitsu), Wally Jay (Small Circle Jujitsu), Gene Roos (Aiki Jujitsu), Dennis McCurdy (Jujitsu), Bruce Jones (Taihojitsu), George R. Parulski, Jr. (Ni-Hon Ryu Jujitsu), Bill Stokely (Seibukan Karate) , Reginald Heffner (Judo), Mark Smith (Judo) and Scott Anderson (Sambo).
Upon Professor Susie's retirement from teaching in 2013, Sensei Will agreed to take over the teaching responsibilities for the dojo. At the time, classes were held exclusively at the Ward Y in Abingdon, Maryland. As students requested more training time and the Y was unable to accomodate more classes, Sensei Will decided to form the Baltimore School of Self Defense and open a dojo in a local shopping center. Classes have grown from a few nights a week to now having classes 6 days/week.
Professor Harris had previously served on the staff of the American Ju-Jitsu Association as the newsletter editor and is a member of the following organizations:
While training at Baltimore School of Self Defense, you will have the opportunity to work with numerous sensei. Most of these sensei obtained their black belt at our dojo and continue to train with us. They are all registered with the American Jujitsu Association. They may lead portions of class or entire classes. These sensei include Mark Burton (sixth degree black belt), Dave Stuart (fifth degree black belt), John Frank (fourth degree black belt), Jodi Canapp (second degree black belt) and Chase Dews (1st degree black belt).