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  1. Afrin is offline

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    Posted On:
    8/10/2006 1:35am


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    the title "shihan" and the menkyo ranking system

    I was curious, was Shihan a formal rank in the menkyo ranking system? I know aikido uses the title shihan, but are there any other arts that do as well? Does judo? Also, does anyone have any resources about the menkyo ranks? I'm finding difficult to find good info on it.

    Given its loftiness, I'm surprised that there aren't more BS instructors calling themselves Shihan, O'Shihan, or Menkyo-Kaiden
  2. Doctor X is offline
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    Posted On:
    8/10/2006 2:41am

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    There are who do refer to them as "shihan."

    Milage may very, but to my knowledge--which I hope will be corrected by some of the people who actually live and study in Japan--the rankings were sort of teaching ranking rather than the dan grades we all know and love. I "think" dan grade is an influence of Judo--at least the belt system--but there is grading in a lot of other Japanese arts.

    ANYWAYS . . . there were/are:

    Shidoin
    Jun-Shihan
    Shihan
    Renshi
    Kyoshi
    Hanshi

    a while ago, I looked this up--checked the kanji which I am not sure how to recreate--based on my organization:

    SHIHAN: "instructor/master" The "shi" is the same ideogram as in "kiyshi" but NOT the Kiyshi we all know and love. This kyshi just means "teacher". The "han" is the same as in "hanshi" and means "model/example/standard" This makes "shihan" a "model/standard teacher" In my organization, you have to be godan or greater and be nominated for it.

    RENSHI: the "shi" is different from "shihan" and the same for the other instructor degrees. It means refers to a "military man"--hence bushi is a warrior and bushid is, of course, "way of the warrior."

    "Ren" originally meant "refine" as in "refining crude metals." It later means one who "trains, disciplines, practices."

    KiYSHI--7th-8th Dan

    "Kiy" here means "teacher/instructor," so the "instructor of military/martial-men"

    HANSHI--9th Dan

    "Han" means "model/example/standard"

    As with all grades and degrees they are only worth the man who has them and the organization that sanctions them. Researching this, I found a few styles that offer "menkyos" which seem like a way for the gaijin to become "special." In Okinawa, you cannot open your own school without a Shihan--this applies to my organization, and even the Mega-Dans display their shihan certificates. I am not 100% certain that is a law as opposed to a "just not done," but Okinawa--and Japan--are small enough that if some clown tried to start a school without any credentials they would be laughed/beaten off the street.

    Perhaps one of the posters who lives/trains there can correct me?

    The Renshi, Kiyoshi, and Hanshi tend to be "honorary" and based on teaching success--students you have brought up, contributions to the style, blah . . . blah. One teacher who is a 7th and officially a "Kiyshi, lists only that he is a "Shihan" on his business card--"all one needs to know."

    A Shihan is, as one person explained it to me, able to teach a class without the GrandPoohBah being present.

    So . . . with an organization that makes the effort to train teachers--rather than just promote dan grades--who consider how well the teacher teaches, et cetera, these can mean a great deal, and some would consider them more important than the dan grades.

    Or they can just be a pretty certificate to buy. That is why "milage may vary."

    Finally, to my knowledge, the Japanese/Okinawans do not refer to themselves with the title. "I am Shihan Yamaguchi" is just not done. Of course, you do not hear: "I am Yamaguchi Sensei"--"Yamaguchi Sensei desu" you will not hear! Someone will introduce you to "Yamaguchi Sensei" but not a "Yamaguchi Shihan."

    So . . . when you encounter "Shihan Woodrow Joseph Bloeme" this is another misguided Japanophile.

    --J. "That's SENSEI Shihan Soke to YOU!" D.
  3. Doctor X is offline
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    Posted On:
    8/10/2006 3:10am

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    Google to the Rescue:



    Shidoin



    Shihan



    Renshi

    Cannot find a large enough view of "Kiyoshi" to link.

    Kiyoshi



    Hanshi
  4. Afrin is offline

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    Posted On:
    8/10/2006 3:21am


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    interesting. I actually wasn't aware of the menkyo ranking system until recently. I hate to say it, but I am surprised that it isn't used more by BS artists to make themselves sound more lofty or legit. (perhaps they do and i'm un ware). Any references on the menkyo?

    As for Shihan, I get several impressions/connotations. One, as was pointed out, its denotation is that of model teacher or example and is a statement about their character; we are to emulate them. Another connotation is that it implies a rank that (I think) would roughly translate from a range of 6th dan to 8th dan, but Shihan would be less than a Grand Master. Perhaps Shihan would roughly connote "master"? Finally, it seems that that title is not easily awarded; that their may be people who are rokudans and above, but are not considered Shihan for whatever reason. just my impression thus far.

    And I also read the dan ranks and belts were a judo innovation.
  5. Doctor X is offline
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    Posted On:
    8/10/2006 5:31am

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    Quote Originally Posted by Afrin
    interesting. I actually wasn't aware of the menkyo ranking system until recently. I hate to say it, but I am surprised that it isn't used more by BS artists to make themselves sound more lofty or legit. (perhaps they do and i'm un ware). Any references on the menkyo?
    I do not have any. I defer to the guys who live/train in Japan. They can probably give a history. To my knowledge [Reading manga--Ed.] it was a "system" around for some time and was the traditional "ranking" for students and teachers. The Shidoin is like an apprentice instructor--"you can like show the basics while we drink over here"--and the Jun or Fuku-Shihan is like an "better" apprentice instructor! The impression I get is that a Shihan is someone who can teach you the system. A Renshi--"polisher of warrior"--is someone who can really make you good.

    As for Shihan, I get several impressions/connotations. One, as was pointed out, its denotation is that of model teacher or example and is a statement about their character; we are to emulate them. Another connotation is that it implies a rank that (I think) would roughly translate from a range of 6th dan to 8th dan, but Shihan would be less than a Grand Master.
    In English it has been translated as "Master Instructor"--someone kick Cody--and depending on the style is usually at godan. This is a bit of a misnomer, because non-Japanese think it means you are a "master." Not the case at all!

    Finally, it seems that that title is not easily awarded; that their may be people who are rokudans and above, but are not considered Shihan for whatever reason. just my impression thus far.
    It will depend on the style and organization. I have one of Donn Draeger [PBUH--Ed.] books which describes the testing for an Iai-do school. My organization demands actual teaching experience for "such-and-such" years and all of that. Another demands a research project. This can all be crapolla, of course, if there is no work behind them! So you do get self-declared "shihans" or schools awarding their own. In my organization, they only promote above godan if you teach--even to godan you should be teaching even if it is at your teacher's dojo. So they award the teaching rank with the dan grade. Another large organization decided to make separate specific requirements. It is "six, and one-half a dozen another." You are correct that in some systems one who is not interested in teaching may never seek such degrees.

    I believe one of the "things" about the Bujikan is that getting dan grade is easy--heck they have . . . like . . . what? Fifteen of them? But the actual teaching licenses are another thing entirely.

    And I also read the dan ranks and belts were a judo innovation.
    I do not know about the term "grade"--which is what "dan" means. I know it exists in other non-martial arts--such as, yes, caligraphy--met a girl who is a yondan in that! The belt system is Kano/Judo. I do not know if he created the kyu system as well--it may have existed. I think traditionally there were students and teachers. Once the system expands it became better to designate levels. In a small school . . . everyone knows everyone else . . . you do not need such external trappings.

    My organization basically had teaching licenses--"you . . . go teach!"--until the Japanese government required all recognized styles to take the dan-kyu system of some type.

    --J.D.
  6. MONGO is offline

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    Posted On:
    8/14/2006 2:40am

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    Shihan and those ranking systems are all within the Japanese traditional system. Dan certificates can be printed for distributing rank but the Menkyo system falls under a purely Japanese system of management and would very hard to fake seeing as there would need to be a legitimate lineage of Koryu and 1 recognized head of a lineage.

    Things that just can't be faked if someone asks even the simplest of questions with regard.
  7. Doctor X is offline
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    Posted On:
    8/15/2006 5:33am

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    Interesting, if you do not mind, I have a few questions.

    Technically, karate is not a Japanese system. Depending on what Creation Myth you believe--depending on the style--various Glorious Grand Poohbahs studied stuff in China, borrowed stuff from people who went to China . . . knew someone who was Chinese, worked together . . . blah . . . blah . . . blah--then spat out some systems. Bottom line is that none of the official styles on/from Okinawa are Japanese. At best, they are Okinawan and based in part or even very little of stuff taken from China.

    Eventually, styles on Okinawa were recognized by the Japanese government. Neat.

    So . . . how do they issue menkyo if they are not, as you put it, a legitimate lineage of Koryu?

    Again, these are recognized organizations, not "Joe-Bob's American Shaolin Gojukan Karate-Jitsu."

    --J.D.
  8. MONGO is offline

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    Posted On:
    8/19/2006 1:36pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    They have menkyo (license) but it is usually formed around the established dan system. There should not be the other traditional systems of menkyo ----Okuden, Menkyo Kaiden and the such.

    If there is licensing systems for a traditional lineage, it is maintained by the org and often a large governing body.
  9. Doctor X is offline
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    Posted On:
    8/19/2006 4:52pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by MONGO
    They have menkyo (license) but it is usually formed around the established dan system. There should not be the other traditional systems of menkyo ----Okuden, Menkyo Kaiden and the such.
    THAT makes sense. The licenses I have seen say "menkyo"--"license, diploma"--oooo! I can use the new upgraded font function!:

    免許

    I can only write about my own "Head Office," but they consider the first three licenses--shidoin, jun-shihan, shihan--which require a minimal dan rank, teaching experience, and recommendation--as seperate. Their licenses read:

    免許状

    Or "menkyojo"--"official license."

    The senior dan grades are given to those who teach so the later licenses sort of go together with them.

    So is "kaden" this: 家伝

    "family history/tradition?"

    Thanks.

    Now that I can make this **** work, the Kanji for all of this is:

    Shidoin: 指導員

    Jun-Shihan: 準師範

    Shihan: 師範

    Renshi: 錬士

    Kiyoshi: 教士

    Hanshi: 範士


    which is based on my books on Japanese. It seems the "renshi" I linked previously is different from this one--that kanji refers to teacher rather than "refiner" or "polisher" which is the traditional meaning I am aware of . . . what do you expect from an Aikido site [Stop that.--Ed.]

    --J.D.

    [Edited because he is "t3h suk" at Japanese.--Ed.]
    Last edited by Doctor X; 8/19/2006 4:58pm at .
  10. MONGO is offline

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    Posted On:
    8/20/2006 1:20am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    It is perfectly appropriate for a Japanese organization to have traditional ranks if it is maintained by the Japanese and affiliated along a series of succession like the old family lineages (be it Koryu or Gendai).
    It would make no sense for Rexkwondo to find a family lineage to find rankings of the traditional sort.
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