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10-05-2005, 10:48 PM
What constitutes being called a shihan? Aikiwiki says simply it's a teacher of teachers, but that could be a lot of people I'm sure many here would disagree with.
Is "shihan" like the term "sensei" in that one never really is supposed to call themselves this (kioshi being the self-title for "teacher" as I understand it)? What are the ethics in calling someone or being called "shihan"?

10-05-2005, 11:18 PM
Check out this article by Yamada Sensei. He wrote it in response to the recent promotions of some instructors to shihan. For a full listing of the USAF-ER shihan go here (http://www.aikidoeast.com/aikidoeast/certified_instructors/certified_instructors.html)

Rules Regarding Shihan -- Yamada Sensei (http://www.aikidoeast.com/aikidoeast/2005/2/index.shtml)

Note in particular the following:

Now let me explain what Shihan means in my culture. Please understand that I am not trying to make Shihan seem unimportant, but I must express it in the terms that the Japanese people use the word and what it actually means to us. Shihan is simply another way of saying Sensei. As a matter of fact, it says in the Japanese dictionary that Shihan is used to call the teacher in a particular field or profession such as martial artist or cultural leader. For instance, you call a school teacher in Japan Sensei and you call a teacher of martial arts Shihan. When I make an application for an official document it's proper for me to write Aikido Shihan rather than Aikido Sensei.

I don't know when exactly my students started calling me Shihan. There were no restrictions or regulations. My students simply started calling me Shihan as I got older and more respected. If my students called me Shihan for example, when I was around 30 years old and 4th dan, I'd probably tell my students please don't call me Shihan. But the title of Sensei and Shihan should both come from respect that the instructor earns from their students and the Aikido community.

Please remember, my intention is not to put down the title of Shihan, but to explain how it is used in the culture it comes from.

As for myself, I still prefer for my students to call me Yamada Sensei. It feels more friendly and comfortable to me.

And we still just call him "Sensei." The only times I have seen "shihan" next to his name is on flyers advertising a seminar

10-05-2005, 11:49 PM

Shihan is an organizational title more than an honorific and different organizations use it in different ways. A member of my organization would use the title to refer to our head but we would not be required to use it for a different organization. I tend to use it for Aikikai and Judo shihan but that is just a personal choice.

In Aikikai (in Japan) there are quite a few whereas in Shodokan Aikido there are only two. There would be more in the latter organization if they used the same criteria as the former. In Judo, Shihan is tied in very closely with rank (6th Dan) whereas in Aikido that is not necessarily the case.

Hope this helps.

10-06-2005, 01:01 AM
Shihan is the master teacher. The person you are supposed to use as a pattern and model yourself after while you train under them.

10-06-2005, 01:11 AM
Thanks for the replies! They all helped very much.
Take care,

10-06-2005, 06:50 AM
In japan, any japanese person 6thdan or over is called shihan. For foreigners, 6th dan + some addition paperwork or testing. As explained from a hombu shihan.

10-06-2005, 08:24 AM
From a linguistic perspective, here are two articles here on AikiWeb on the term "shihan" and "sensei":

Sensei/Shihan as Teacher in Japanese (http://www.aikiweb.com/language/goldsbury1.html) by Peter Goldsbury.

Learning from the Learned: A Story in Pictures (http://www.aikiweb.com/language/vance1.html) by Jim Vance.

-- Jun

10-06-2005, 08:11 PM
In japan, any japanese person 6thdan or over is called shihan. For foreigners, 6th dan + some addition paperwork or testing. As explained from a hombu shihan.
Not sure about that Eric (assuming for the moment you are just talking about the Aikikai). I think the relative postition within a group of dojos is important - 6th Dan may be the minimum rank requirement.

Charles Hill
10-06-2005, 09:31 PM
My wife just got her shihan rank in Shodo (Japanese calligraphy) last night! I am very proud of her so excuse my off topic post.


10-06-2005, 09:37 PM
Seriously cool Charles - congrats.

10-07-2005, 10:03 AM
Yes, it was implied in my post that I meant aikikai, sorry I forgot to say it directly.. ;)