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07-25-2000, 01:49 AM
Hi all,

To my knowledge the term "Shihan" is synonymous with "expert". But unfortunately that's all I know, could you guys add to this? How does one get to be called a "Shihan"?

I'd like to get your views on this.

- Adrian

[Edited by adriangan on July 25, 2000 at 12:52am]

07-25-2000, 06:39 AM
Hi Adrian!
The term "Shihan" means "teacher of teachers" or "master instructor". It is automatically used when someone has achieved 6th dan or more.


07-25-2000, 07:46 AM
This is a question without set answers from what I've seen in other discussion forums. One answer I've seen is that the term (at least in the aikikai) is given to certain senior instructors at hombu and these are the only official aikikai shihan. In our federation (USAF-east) the term seems to be reserved to Yamada Sensei and Kanai Sensei. For the record, there are two sixth dans in our dojo (including our chief instructor of course) and I have never heard anybody refer to them as shihan

07-25-2000, 08:28 AM
The "shi" in "shihan" basically means "teacher, master; exemplary person." "Han" in this case means "example, model, pattern."

In Aikikai at least, the term is not used automatically when people reach 6th dan. There are plenty of people out there who are 6th dan who are not called "shihan" at that rank, especially outside of Japan. It seems that for those teachers teaching at Aikikai hombu dojo, though, they are given the title of "shihan" when they reach 6th dan, though; I do not think this is the case outside of there, though.

As I have read elsewhere in magazines and such, Aikikai Hombu Dojo has refused to acknowledge anyone who is not Japanese to be a shihan. Even recently on Aikido Journal, Stan Pranin reported (http://www.aikidojournal.com/ubb/Forum19/HTML/000008.html) that at least one representative of Aikikai Hombu Dojo has said that even those instructors who are here in the United States who studied with the founder (ie Yamada sensei, Kanai sensei, Saotome sensei, et al) are not recognized as shihan by Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

I will say, however, that I have heard of at least one instructor being conferred the title by his 8th dan teacher when he reached 6th dan. There are also those like Christian Tissier sensei who is 7th dan and is referred to as shihan. Also, other organizations outside of Aikikai like Yoshinkan have given the title of "shihan" to some of their non-Japanese, senior instructors.

With all of that said, it's a sticky issue. However, there are a handful of people with whom I have personally trained whom I would personally call "shihan" who have not been given the title by their organization. That's just my own opinion, of course...

-- Jun