Member of

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Rank & Titles

Title [Shugo]


Credential & Grade



Sacred Fist.

  • No credential,
  • Honorific title in reference of Chojun Miyagi.


  • Master of the house.
  • Highest instructor of a specific Ryuha or Kaiha
  • Owner of the Dojo
  • Honorific title
  • Not necessarily of grade.


  • Regional Head
  • Director.

Also Branch / Regional Representative per association.


  • Founder
  • Senior Advisor

Honorific title.

O’Sensei & Dai Sensei

  • Greatest Teachers,
  • Highly regarded
  • Respected teacher
  • Honorific title in reference.
  • Honorific title spoken in reference of those deceased.


  • Master
  • Founder of a Ryu-Ha.


Saiko Shihan [or Shuseki Shihan]

Head Shihan.

Head Shihan to a specific group of Shihan of an organization.




Expert License of:

  • Renshi
  • Kyoshi
  • Hanshi

5th Dan and higher if designated by the qualification by virtue of endorsement by the

  • [A] Association of Chief Instructors or
  • [B] Administration Head of an Association.

License [not title] is by award and certification or letter, not by Dan grade alone.



  • Senior leader to Model Instructors, to be modeled after.
  • Exemplary Illustrious.
  • Shihan License Certification,
  • Separate from that of Dan grade alone.
  • Of being 8th, 9th & 10th Dan.

Japanese associations Hanshi license holders wear Black Belt w/ Red facing out-Black facing in.

Okinawa association Hanshi License holders wear Black Belt with three Gold stripe.



  • Master, Teaching instructor [teacher of teachers].
  • Eminent Instructor; Master Instructor.
  • Shihan License Certification,
  • Separate from that of Dan grade alone.
  • Of being 6th & 7th Dan.

Japanese associations Kyoshi license holders wear Red stripe above White stripe facing out-Black facing in- Belt [Japanese].

Okinawa association Kyoshi License holders wear Black Belt with two Gold stripe.



  • Senior Expert, Professional, Training instructor.
  • Highly trained; High Attainment
  • Shihan License Certification,
  • Separate from that of Dan grade alone.
  • Of being 5th & 6th Dan.
  • Japanese associations Renshi license holders wear White stripe above Red stripe facing in-Black facing out- Belt.
  • Okinawa association Renshi License holders wear Black Belt with one Gold stripe.




    • San Dan & higher instructors,
    • License [not title] is by award and certification or letter,
    • Not by Dan grade alone.


    Upper Grade Yudanasha.

    • Experienced Grade Sensei Menkyo;
    • Preamble to Shihan Menkyo system,
    • 4th to 5th dan.


    Middle Grade Yudansha.

    • Beginning Grade Sensei Menkyo;
    • Preamble to Jokyo Menkyo;
    • 3rd to 4th Dan.

    Fuku Shidoin

    • Lower Grade Yudansha
    • Assistant to Sensei.
    • May be of either Ni [2nd] Dan or San [3rd] Dan
    • Acting as an assistant to Sensei.



    San Dan, not of/or becoming Sensei


    Secretariat to a Senior Instructor.

    • Usually of San Dan or higher grade.
    • Either Administrative or Instructional.


    • Senior Student
    • Senior to yourself.
    • Sho, Ni & San Dan, Black Belt,
    • Those senior to yourself.


    Student equal to your own grade, status and level.


    Shodan Ho

    Conditional Black Belt.

    Having met the requirements of Shodan grading however under review [usually for one year] for continued dedication to training and to fulfill moral and other standards.

    Shonenbu Shodan

    Junior Black Belt.

    • Under Sixteen years of age
    • Mmeeting the requirements of Shodan.
  • This grade holder must retest for Shodan when they come of age.
  • Hokai

    Students below Dan Level.

    Mudansha, 9th to 1st Kyu.


    Junior Student.

    [meaning Junior to yourself].

    Uchi Deshi

    Personal Student.





    Chukyu [Chukyu Sha]

    • Post Secondary Grade
    • Intermediate Kyu Level

    Intermediate Level Learning Grade.


    Regarding a person[s] holding Dan grade.

    • Shodan & higher,
    • Black belt holders.
    • Shokyu [Shokyo Sha]
    • Ryodo
    • Secondary Grade or Grade two
    • Lower Kyu Level
    • Secondary Level Learning Grade, As in
    • Shodan, Of advanced Kyu grading.


    1st kyu to 10th Kyu.

    Non Black Belt Holder.



    Entry Level Learning Grade.

    Mukyu or Shodo

    Beginners Grade or non Kyu grade holder.

    Non Grade Holder.

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    Shihan Humphrey Skosana's Kuyu kai Karate South Africa teaches the traditional Goju-ryu karate of the late Osamu Hirano (Saiko Shihan) of Japan.