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Old 07-23-2002, 11:58 AM   #1
aikidoc
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Masters

When does one become a master? 6th dan, 5th dan, when awarded shihan status. I see a lot of confusing references to masters-e.g., 7th dan in one art, 5th dan in aikido. Aikido dojocho refers to as a master. I also see some setting up their own organization and becoming the master. It was my impression, that master was a title conveyed by the awarding of shihan-no matter what rank you hold. There are also master instructors for an organization vs. the aiki-kai. That is, you may be the master instructor or shihan for an organization but that does not mean you are recognized as a master instructor by the aikikai hombu dojo.

Anyone clarify this?
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Old 07-23-2002, 12:17 PM   #2
Steven
 
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John,

I guess this is really up to the individual and those who follow them. Anyone can use this title if they feel fit. Doesn't mean much though in my opinion.

There are no set rules in Aikido that I know of as well. So I wouldn't worry about it.

From www.dictionary.com

mas·ter Pronunciation Key (mstr)

n.

One that has control over another or others.

The owner or keeper of an animal: The dog ran toward its master.

The owner of a slave.

One who has control over or ownership of something: the master of a large tea plantation.

The captain of a merchant ship. Also called master mariner.

An employer.

The man who serves as the head of a household.

One who defeats another; a victor.

One whose teachings or doctrines are accepted by followers.

Master Christianity. Jesus.

A male teacher, schoolmaster, or tutor.

One who holds a master's degree.

An artist or performer of great and exemplary skill.

An old master.

A worker qualified to teach apprentices and carry on the craft independently.

An expert: a master of three languages.

Abbr. M.

Used formerly as a title for a man holding a naval office ranking next below a lieutenant on a warship.

Used as a title for a man who serves as the head or presiding officer of certain societies, clubs, orders, or institutions.

Chiefly British. Used as a title for any of various male law court officers.

Master Used as a title for any of various male officers having specified duties concerning the management of the British royal household.

Master Used as a courtesy title before the given or full name of a boy not considered old enough to be addressed as Mister.

Archaic. Used as a form of address for a man; mister.

Master A man who owns a pack of hounds or is the chief officer of a hunt.

An original, such as an original document or audio recording, from which copies can be made.

adj.

Of, relating to, or characteristic of a master.

Principal or predominant: a master plot.

Controlling all other parts of a mechanism: a master switch.

Highly skilled or proficient: a master thief.

Being an original from which copies are made.

tr.v. mas·tered, mas·ter·ing, mas·ters

To act as or be the master of.

To make oneself a master of: mastered the language in a year's study.

To overcome or defeat: He finally mastered his addiction to drugs.

To reduce to subjugation; break or tame (an animal, for example).

To produce a master audio recording for.

To season or age (dyed goods).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Middle English, from Old English mgister, męgister, and Old French maistre both from Latin magister. See meg- in Indo-European Roots.]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

master·dom n.

Usage Note: Master has been a productive source of compounds in English, evidenced by words such as masterpiece, concertmaster, mastermind, and masterstroke, to name just a few. It is also used frequently on its own as a noun, verb, and adjective, with meanings ranging from "an original document that is to be copied" to "a man who serves as the head of a household." The latter sense lends the word masculine connotations, which, along with the word's associations with the institutions of slavery, causes some people to be offended by the use of master in any form. Nonetheless, many senses of master, such as the noun sense "an expert" and the verb sense "to make oneself an expert at," have long been thought of as gender-neutral and are in wide use. Some compounds, like masterpiece and master plan, have lost most, if not all, of their associations with maleness. They exist as distinct words, and people do not usually think of them as a combination of parts each containing a different meaning.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
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Old 07-24-2002, 01:11 AM   #3
Chuck.Gordon
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Master? What an affectation.

Makes me think of bad Kung Fu moveis and TV shows ...

There is no mastery, only the path.

What did the Tao Te Ching say? Geez, it's annoying to have a sieve fora brain.

Chuck

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Old 07-24-2002, 01:28 AM   #4
isshinryu88
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This doesn't answer your question, but anytime I see this sort of question I am reminded of a passage in the book Living The Martial Way. The author was present at a discussion an organization he belonged to was having regarding the title Master. Basically, this organization was concerned that a rival organization called their 5th dans Master. So they decided to begin calling their 4th dans master.

In the karate organization I belong to, 5th degree is considered junior Master and 6th degree Master. My instructor is 8th degree, but I don't think I would ever call him Master. He'll always be Sensei, which I believe he is most comfortable being called. I would agree with the others that the title is very subjective.

Also, my very limited understanding of Shihan is that it refers to a teacher of teachers, something that has been misinterpreted to mean someone who is more than a master. If I'm correct, I would assume that, technically, any dan grade who has a student who begins teaching could be called Shihan.

Dave
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Old 07-24-2002, 09:55 PM   #5
tedehara
 
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I've been told others can call you Master, but you should always consider and call yourself sensei.

In the Ki Society, I have read where people call Koichi Tohei (founder of the Ki Society), Master Tohei, but he only uses the title of sensei to describe himself.


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Old 07-24-2002, 10:39 PM   #6
akiy
 
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Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
I've been told others can call you Master, but you should always consider and call yourself sensei.
... but not as a title (as in "Hi, I'm Bob sensei" or even worse, "Hi, I'm sensei Bob"), but as an indication of your profession ("Hi, I'm a sensei").

So, in a sense, I don't think Japanese people would refer to themselves as "sensei" but would refer to their profession as such.

Peter (G. and/or R.)? Chris? Your experience in this matter?
Quote:
In the Ki Society, I have read where people call Koichi Tohei (founder of the Ki Society), Master Tohei, but he only uses the title of sensei to describe himself.
I remember hearing stories of when he first started teaching outside of Aikikai Hombu Dojo, when he was asked what rank he was, he would respond, "Watashi wa jodan de gozaimasu."

-- Jun

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Old 07-24-2002, 11:16 PM   #7
Peter Goldsbury
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
... but not as a title (as in "Hi, I'm Bob sensei" or even worse, "Hi, I'm sensei Bob"), but as an indication of your profession ("Hi, I'm a sensei").

So, in a sense, I don't think Japanese people would refer to themselves as "sensei" but would refer to their profession as such.

Peter (G. and/or R.)? Chris? Your experience in this matter?

I remember hearing stories of when he first started teaching outside of Aikikai Hombu Dojo, when he was asked what rank he was, he would respond, "Watashi wa jodan de gozaimasu."

-- Jun
Hello Jun,

Perhaps you should have explained that 'jodan' means 'joke' and that Tohei Sensei was saying something like, "I have the honour to be a joke".

In my experience here, no one ever uses the Japanese equivalent of 'Master' self-referentially and you will never see the term, or 'Sensei', on meishi (business cards). Instead, you will see terms like 'Dojo-cho' (Dojo head), 'Kyouju' (Professor), 'Aikido Shihan' (Aikido Instructor), but all the holders of these titles can be referred to as 'Sensei' (always coming after the person's name).

In Japan I have never heard anyone referred to as 'Master' in aikido, and I personally think the title is best left unused, even when referring to very eminent teachers. There is far too much ego in the martial arts as it is, and especially in aikido, with its absence of competition. I have never, ever considered calling any of my own aikido teachers 'Master' (and they presently include 9th dan holders). When I talk to Moriteru Ueshiba, I call him Doshu.

Best regards to all,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 07-24-2002 at 11:25 PM.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-25-2002, 03:11 AM   #8
mike lee
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Cool paternal-like relationships

In Chinese martial arts, many people can be called "shifu," or master. It means something like a spiritual father. The direct translation is "teacher father."

The person can be young or old, male or female, have many students or no students, and still be considered (by some or many) to be a master.

A lot of it boils down to the individual relationship between the teacher "laoshi" and the "hsueh sheng" (student or "learn person").

The other day, one of my students came into the office where I work and greeted me as "master." The foreigners were all somewhat surprised, but the Chinese didn't even blink.

The reason is because the foreigners have all kinds of strange ideas about what it means to be a master, but the Chinese understand that, although it may have something to do with one's skill and time invested in a particular art, when a student uses the term, it simply means that the student-teacher relationship is of a higher order. It's largely indicative of the level of respect.

Another reason the student may have used the term "shifu" was not so much out of respect for me, but more out of respect for the old master that I study under.

Maybe he was also buttering me up. In the end, my student asked me for a short-term loan.

P.S.

Quote:
Anyone can use this title if they feel fit. Doesn't mean much though in my opinion.
The fact that someone refered to me as "master" meant a lot to me. It meant that maybe there is at least one person in this world that respects my years of training and the effort that I put into teaching aikido.

Last edited by mike lee : 07-25-2002 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 07-30-2002, 02:02 AM   #9
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My experience is similar to Peter`s, except I don`t get to talk to Doshu and I haven`t had the longevity in the art that he has. Most of the Shihan that I know are usually addressed as Sensei, I remember asking a 6th Dan once how I should address Endo Shihan, he said "Sensei". One exception that I hear regularly, Koyama Sensei, our Shihan is often referred to as Kaicho rather than Sensei.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 07-30-2002, 02:13 AM   #10
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Um

I refer to Nariyama Shihan as Nariyama Shihan.

There are a number of others in the dojo with who I use sensei.

None of the above refer to themselves by those titles.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-30-2002, 06:21 AM   #11
Kami
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Cool Re: Masters

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
When does one become a master? 6th dan, 5th dan, when awarded shihan status. I see a lot of confusing references to masters-e.g., 7th dan in one art, 5th dan in aikido. Aikido dojocho refers to as a master. I also see some setting up their own organization and becoming the master. It was my impression, that master was a title conveyed by the awarding of shihan-no matter what rank you hold. There are also master instructors for an organization vs. the aiki-kai. That is, you may be the master instructor or shihan for an organization but that does not mean you are recognized as a master instructor by the aikikai hombu dojo.

Anyone clarify this?
KAMI : There is a great confusion on the meaning of Shihan. Originally, SHIHAN was a term of respect for someone who was a remarkable master teacher. It wasn't given by an organization but by his students.

Later the Aikikai (but not every style of Aikido) created some titles for teaching certification (based on older formats) - FUKUSHIDOIN, SHIDOIN AND SHIHAN - concerned, not explicitly about "master teachers", but about levels of certification. It was never systematized by the Aikikai, so all the confusion ("when is one a shihan", "when are you a master", etc...). Each style, group or organization has its own criteria. And, it's important to remember, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo is not the DEFINITIVE organization. The Yoshinkai, the Shodokan, the Ki-Aikido, each has their own independent Hombu and do not follow Aikikai's injunctions.

Also, dan rankings ("when you get a 6th dan, you're a Shihan!")have nothing to do with teaching certifications.

And finally, mastery, considered as a personal achievement, depends entirely on the individual and on the people who consider him to be a Shihan. That's all.

IMO

Last edited by Kami : 07-30-2002 at 06:24 AM.

"We are all teachers, and what we teach is what we need to learn, and so we teach it over and over again until we learn it".
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Old 07-30-2002, 06:43 AM   #12
Chris Li
 
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Re: Re: Masters

Quote:
Ubaldo Alcantara (Kami) wrote:
KAMI : There is a great confusion on the meaning of Shihan. Originally, SHIHAN was a term of respect for someone who was a remarkable master teacher. It wasn't given by an organization but by his students.
Yes and no - in general Japanese use exactly how respectful the term is, who gets it and how they get it all depend on where you are and what you're doing.

Otherwise, the situation is pretty much as Ubaldo described it, it snuck into use at one point in the Aikikai and other schools but was, for the most part, never really formalized or systemized, which is where the problems came in.

I note that the current Aikikai regulations seem to state that one now has to be specifically certified by Aikikai hombu in order to use that designation - a number of non-Japanese were so certified recently. Despite that, however, I also note that just about any Japanese instructor with a certain level of status is referred to as "shihan" during the All Japan Aikido Demonstration put on by the Aikikai, and I'm fairly sure that they don't have the "official" certificates required for the non-Japanese instructors abroad...

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-30-2002, 08:12 AM   #13
Sherman Byas
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A qoute from one of my teachers, "Sensei is always fine."

A think some of this self-appointment comes from the fact that throughout much of current martial arts history if you were not in the "in crowd" no matter what your time of service/level of skill you would not get the proper rank. So, eventually some people started to promote themselves and so the overuse of the titles "MASTER" & "SHIHAN" has occured.
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Old 07-30-2002, 09:30 AM   #14
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Re: Re: Masters

Quote:
Christopher Li (Chris Li) wrote:
Yes and no - in general Japanese use exactly how respectful the term is, who gets it and how they get it all depend on where you are and what you're doing.

Otherwise, the situation is pretty much as Ubaldo described it, it snuck into use at one point in the Aikikai and other schools but was, for the most part, never really formalized or systemized, which is where the problems came in.

I note that the current Aikikai regulations seem to state that one now has to be specifically certified by Aikikai hombu in order to use that designation - a number of non-Japanese were so certified recently. Despite that, however, I also note that just about any Japanese instructor with a certain level of status is referred to as "shihan" during the All Japan Aikido Demonstration put on by the Aikikai, and I'm fairly sure that they don't have the "official" certificates required for the non-Japanese instructors abroad...

Best,

Chris
Hello Chris,

The title actually snuck into use in the Aikikai when they created the IAF and issued international regulations governing the admission to the new federation of overseas aikido organisations. Up to then the use of the 'shihan' title was guided by aikido custom in Japan (anyone 6th dan and above was a shihan). However, the person who actually drafted the international regulations had something of an agenda and added conditions to the use of the title ("chosen from those of 6th dan rank and above who are adept at practice and teaching"). That is, he wanted to do a bit of gaiatsu and pressure the Aikikai into changing the Japanese custom within the Aikikai: all part of tightening up the training and teaching regime in Wakamatsu-cho.

The international regulations were adopted in 1976 and soon became controversial: if aikido was truly universal, why were there different standards within the IAF between Japan and overseas. The plan to change the regulations again was first made in 1992 and the idea of having shihan certificates was again resurrected. Kisshomaru Ueshiba did not touch the issue, but Moriteru has grasped the nettle and begun to issue certificates. But only for overseas organisations.

So there are still different standards. Overseas you have to have a certificate: in Japan, especially for the All-Japan Demonstration, being 6th dan is enough. And no certificate has ever been issued to a shihan in Japan.

I have some sympathy for Moriteru Doshu. As a knowing Japanese friend said to me, Moriteru being Doshu is like a new wife being married into a traditional Japanese family, but with about 20 mothers-in-law, who all watch his every move. Of course, it was probably even more difficult for Kisshomaru in 1969, coming after his father.

Anyway, for me titles like shihan etc do not matter, but fairness--Japanese and non-Japanese aikidoka being treated equally by the Aikikai--does matter.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-30-2002, 09:46 AM   #15
Sherman Byas
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Why don't they just issue an official edict that states that anyone who is 6th dan and above is now a shihan? Japanese or not, certificate or not. I think that would take a the title flap out of the picture. I truly feel for Doshu.
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Old 07-30-2002, 09:50 AM   #16
mike lee
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Cool name game

I don't recall anyone in aikido actually being given the title "master," although some people have been refered to as such in formal and informal settings, and in media reports.

As far as I know, shihan means "teacher of teachers."

I think that this would mean, therefore, that if one is, for example, a 6 dan in a dojo, he/she, while certainly being considered a sensei, would not necessarily be considered a shihan, although it seems that Hombu Aikikai now does this somewhat automatically, with the exception of for foreign devils.

If, on the other hand, an individual had reached a certain level of proficiency, coupled with a sufficient number of years in the art, and had a large number of sensei and a number of dojo under his control, then I think he would either officially or unofficially be refered to as a shihan. In this sense, it seems to be a somewhat political or even militaristic title.

I think that it would sort of be like a division commander in the military.

Last edited by mike lee : 07-30-2002 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 08-05-2002, 04:04 PM   #17
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Masters

Quote:
Goldsbury Peter (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
I have some sympathy for Moriteru Doshu. As a knowing Japanese friend said to me, Moriteru being Doshu is like a new wife being married into a traditional Japanese family, but with about 20 mothers-in-law, who all watch his every move. Of course, it was probably even more difficult for Kisshomaru in 1969, coming after his father.
For sure I wouldn't want the Job .
Quote:
Goldsbury Peter (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
Anyway, for me titles like shihan etc do not matter, but fairness--Japanese and non-Japanese aikidoka being treated equally by the Aikikai--does matter.
I agree - if you're going to use a title (any title) then it ought to be applied equally across the board or there are inevitably going to be problems.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-05-2002, 04:37 PM   #18
Bruce Baker
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Skill verses humility

Since the introduction of the word 'Shihan' into the western martial arts vocabulary, it has been a race to rise in the dan ranks to become the vaunted 'teacher of teachers' or 'master teacher'.

People have mistaken the respect of the old wise teachers who have spent their life to teach and practice their martial art, for the symbolism of being called 'president', 'general', or 'admiral'.

I could be mistaken, but I had thought that it was a term reserved for our elder teachers who had by the years of practice and teaching earned the title of Shihan by virtue of being a teacher of teachers who has earned the last three dan levels of particular martial art. This title is endowed to these teachers in their final years of retirement during the late years of their fiftys to early sixtys.

However, with ego's running amuck and the race to be recognized as masters of particular arts, the term has been bandied about as an equalization of teachers to show they are the peers of other teachers who are called 'shihan' by their students.

Most REAL shihans are very adverse to strut and preen in the peacock manner, in fact they show great humility as their former students who become teachers are a testiment to their true martial spirit.

Most real shihans have forty or more years into a practice.

If you return to 'Master', well ... That is usually a term used for naming a practictioner who has great skill between the ranks of 3rd dan and 7th dan.

I think a lot of people are considered shihan at 7th dan in Aikido, but there are very few who insist they be call by anything but their first name when not in the dojo.

Most prefer 'Sensei'.

As far as running away ...

Your skills will help you to be aware of when a situation is easily overcome, verses being suckered into an ambush.

If you are looking for a fight, then Aikido is the wrong art for you.

After reading the latest articles in Aikido Online, I think your understanding of what Aikido leans towards would be more readily understood by reading July's online issue.

Basically, there is a duality of preaching love for your religion, while there is an exception for love of humanity. Hence the opening to defend yourself, creating a zone of safety that is martial arts priority to maintain your life.

Or ... in finding the conncection to our religion, that love of life will carry us to understand the need to use and have martial arts as our defensive/offensive art.
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