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Titles in Karate-Do

 

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The following are the list of teaching grades bestowed on individuals within Karate-Do, based on capability and/or rank.

 

 

Sempai

The relative version means Senior Grade and is used to address anyone older or of senior rank. While it can be applied among the yudansha e.g. a sandan might call a yondan by the title of sempai, it is unlikely, since they already have a title which supersedes it. Again, this form of the title is more appropriately used among the kyu grades. The absolute version is used to address people with the grade of shodan or nidan It is however worth bearing in mind that in systems where the titles are conferred rather than automatic, this title can also be applied to the rank of sandan or even yondan until he or she has been conferred the title of Sensei. Everyone from 10th kyu up to 10th dan would call such people (i.e. shodan and nidan holders, and sometimes higher) Sempai.

Sensei

Sensei "Teacher or One who has gone before": This title is by far the most often used title in karate and generally refers to someone of Yon-Dan level (4th Degree Black Belt.) Most will state that this is the most honorable title that a student can use when referring to the senior as their teacher. The title Sensei implies a close bond between the student and teacher's relationship.

Renshi

Renshi: "Senior Expert Teacher": This is the first of the three generally (Most Often) used teacher titles. Although this title is independent of rank, it is seldom given to anyone below the rank of Yon-Dan.

Shihan

Shihan: "Master or Expert Teacher": It is important to understand that the meaning Master as used in the martial arts is someone who has mastered the basic and advanced understandings {Principles} of a particular style or system, thus the title Shihan means someone who has mastered the basic and advanced techniques as well as the principles, concepts, and theory of their respective style of karate. The title Shihan does not mean that this person has stopped learning because they know all of the answers. On the contrary, they are considered to be the most serious and dedicated students in any style of martial arts. The title Shihan is generally considered to be an organizational title alone and has little meaning.

Kyoshi

Kyoshi: "Master Teacher, Teacher of Teachers": This is the second of the three generally (Most Often) used teacher titles. Although this title is independent of the ranking system, it is seldom given to anyone below the rank of Roku-dan and in most cases Shichi-dan).

Hanshi

Hanshi: "Senior Master Teacher": This is the third and highest of the three generally (Most Often) used teacher titles. Although this title is independent of the ranking system, it is seldom given to anyone below the rank of Hachi-Dan (8th Degree Black Belt)

Kancho

Literally, the word means Head of the Training hall and comes from the two words kan (training hall) and cho (head, leader). Effectively, this means Chairman. Mas Oyama held this title initially, and it was the title now used, among others, by Chiyako Oyama, Mas Oyama's widow. In the case of Kyokushin and related styles, the term Kancho can be used to signify the "head" of the organisation.

Sosai

This is a unique title reserved for Masutatsu Oyama. It means President, and was adopted by Mas Oyama in 1985 when he assumed additional administrative positions in the organisation.

 

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