You were writing your post as I was writing mine. I need to make a few comments.
Tissier seems to be treated by Hombu on par with even the top Hombu shihan. He gets to teach at the IAF congress, beside people like Endo, Yasuno and Doshu, and my impression is that even the Japanese refer to him as a Hombu shihan, not a shihan from his national organization.
PAG. There is a tatemae/honne
aspect here. The tatemae
is that the IAF decides who will instruct at the Congress (this means the General Secretary and myself). However, the honne
is that Doshu is always consulted and his advice is almost always followed. The accepted rule is that shihans of 7th dan rank and above will be invited to instruct. However, for the last Congress, held in Tanabe, Doshu wanted more non-Japanese shihans (of course, resident abroad) to instruct. Thus one or more 7th dan ranks shihans resident in the US would normally have been invited, but it was not known whether any would be attending the Congress. However, Christian is a shihan from his national organization, not a Hombu Shihan.
He once said: The same year that I was promoted to 6th dan, there was a meeting of European Aikidoka in Stockholm. I wasn't there, but many of the Japanese teachers were. And, of course, one Japanese teacher said, "We need to have a Japanese shihan in France." The French who were there said, "Why do we need your 6th and 7th dan instructors? We have Christian Tissier who has 6th dan from Hombu Dojo." Someone said, "But is Tissier a shihan?" And Fujita Sensei, who was the General Secretary of Hombu Dojo said, "If Tissier is 6th dan from Hombu Dojo, he is a shihan from Hombu Dojo."
PAG. Yes, I was there at the meeting. Of course, there has been a Japanese shihan in France since many years before that meeting in Sweden: Nobuyoshi Tamura. However, at the time there was a major split among the Japanese shihan group between N Tamura and the rest. M Fujita was playing the role of 'honest broker'. The other Japanese refused to participate in the demonstration organized by the Swedish federation, so Fujita Sensei was the only one: I was his uke.
The whole event was a major learning experience for me about tatemae / honne.