Master and Grandmaster titles

Cirdan

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No one ( to my knowledge) is questioning you sir. I believe the insults from big bad Chris were meant for me... I think it's funny... internet tough guy.. they're all over. As for your post Cirdan, I don't know the literal translation either. And I'm certainly not going to judge a school based on its spelling...

Speaking about though guys, care to share some details about your training background? Your profile info is.. interesting.

7th Dan- ninjutsu
5th Dan- jujitsu
4th Dan- Aikido
 

Chris Parker

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Reading this thread, I see that most of you are speaking of TKD. I know very little of this system as I specialize in Japanese arts. Speaking from a Japanese standpoint, You become ELIGIBLE to become a Master at 5th Dan, once rank is reached you take master "classes" . Grandmaster is usually 10th Dan, but occasionally 9th Dan.

Hmm. No.

Look, in some systems, maybe… and that's really about all you can say… as well as pointing out, of course, that such terms are typically used in Western iterations of such arts, or by Western practitioners of such arts that don't understand the Japanese terms… I have come across exactly zero Japanese arts that use the term "Grandmaster", for example…

I don`t know any grandmasters in Karate either, however Ju Jitsu does use titles such as Renshi, Shian, Kyoshi and Hanshi. I don`t know their exact meaning however.

Some systems can use those titles, yeah. Largely, Shogo titles (Shihan, Renshi, Kyoshi, Hanshi etc) were popularised by the Dai Nippon Butokukai, which existed from the end of the 19th through to the mid-20th Century… which makes it rather modern, in all consideration. The Dai Nippon Butokukai, really, eventually turned into the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei, among other organisations, who have continued to use such terms within their various systems.

It's also interesting to note that such titles are not universally applied… Aikido's highest title is Shihan… which pretty literally means "teacher", or "model to be followed/example"… whereas in Kendo, it's Hanshi ("senior teacher", or literally "model warrior/gentleman", or "example of a person"). Other terms, such as Kyoshi and Renshi, are differing levels of teaching certification, which is really all the titles apply to. Again, though, the order, and application, varies from organisation to organisation, and are not all used in any one type of art. Within the Bujinkan, for example, you have yudansha (dan graded), Shidoshi-ho (junior teacher), Shidoshi (teacher), Shihan (senior teacher), a relatively recent addition of Dai Shihan (very senior teacher), and the Soke at the top (also known as Iemoto, and is really not "grandmaster", as much as "leader" of the ryu… or "caretaker" of it).

For the record, the translations are as follows:

Kyoshi (教師) - "teacher/teaching master"
Renshi (練士) - "Refined gentleman/warrior"
Hanshi (範士) - "Model gentleman/warrior"
Shihan (師範) - "Teaching model".

I found a forum and replied to it. I didn't realize that it was a TKD forum... and yes I was being very general. As mentioned jujitsu uses the title. As well as Aikido and ninjutsu.

No, Ninjutsu doesn't use "master" or "grandmaster"… the Genbukan uses the Kyoshi/Renshi/Shihan titles, whereas the Bujinkan doesn't use Kyoshi or Renshi… and Shihan is used differently, and largely personally (there are debates about exactly what constitutes a "shihan" in the Bujinkan, as some choose to only apply it to certain persons, and not others, seemingly against the direction of Hatsumi… which is odd). Aikido doesn't use the titles at all, with Shihan being used only in some organisations… and a unique title of Doshu being applied to the successor of Ueshiba Sensei (who is also afforded the title O'Sensei, or "great teacher"). Jujutsu only uses it in certain organisations, and again, largely Western ones.

I'll repeat my earlier question - what Japanese terms are you translating as "master" and "grandmaster'?

I've seen "Shihan" translated as "master instructor", although usually not as just "master." (I've also seen it translated as "senior instructor.") Different organizations have different rules for who is considered a Shihan. There are no universal rules matching the title to a given dan rank.

Yep.

I'm not sure what term you would translate as "grandmaster." I've seen people use the term to refer to the soke of a system, but I don't think that's an accurate translation. Even so, it certainly wouldn't map to a dan ranking.

The concept of Soke, or Iemoto, is a fairly complex one… and not one that I think we need to go into on the TKD forum… for here, it's sufficient to say that the term in no way means "grandmaster"… in fact, the Soke of a number of systems aren't even practitioners (such as Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu). In short, it's the person who is responsible for the safe keeping of the system… the legal inheritor, so to speak.

I'm not a spelling major... I'm also not Japanese. I don't speak Japanese. Only the terms I was taught. All I can do is pass on what I was taught. I know for a fact the validity of my ninjutsu school, however the other two are American schools and I can only go from my experiences there and what I was told by the instructors.

Yeah… again, what school of Ninjutsu is this?

No one ( to my knowledge) is questioning you sir. I believe the insults from big bad Chris were meant for me... I think it's funny... internet tough guy.. they're all over. As for your post Cirdan, I don't know the literal translation either. And I'm certainly not going to judge a school based on its spelling...

Hmm… "big bad Chris"? I hadn't even entered into this thread before this… and I didn't spot anyone else named Chris in the discussions you were having… hmm…

Oh, and what Cirdan is saying is that "Jujutsu" is considered the correct romanization of "柔術", with the second character (術) not being able to be pronounced "jitsu". That would be a completely different word (実), with a very different meaning. Pretty much all authentic Japanese arts will use the correct transliteration, but many non-Japanese (or quasi-Japanese) variants use the older, incorrect spelling. It's even more apparent in Ninjutsu circles, for the record…
 

terryl965

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Real simple KKW standards is 4th is consider Master and 8th is consider Grand Master. It is what it is and every single person I know in Olympic taekwondo is mainly called coach, but the title stay in the dojaang. Last thing Sabanim is a school owner not Kwanjanim that is for the kwon leader only.
 

WaterGal

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Real simple KKW standards is 4th is consider Master and 8th is consider Grand Master. It is what it is and every single person I know in Olympic taekwondo is mainly called coach, but the title stay in the dojaang. Last thing Sabanim is a school owner not Kwanjanim that is for the kwon leader only.

Sahbum (사범) is Korean for "instructor". Kwanjang (관장) means "training hall chief".
 

Gnarlie

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Sahbum (사범) is Korean for "instructor". Kwanjang (관장) means "training hall chief".
My experience with Koreans to date is a preference for students to have a friendly first name relationship with them rather than a formal one. When we want to be formal (which they never demand, but is prudent in front of children and beginners, for example), we use master, not grandmaster. They also confer master upon other black belt instructors even below 4th dan when we teach children together. When visiting Koreans are present I refer to both them and our school leader as as second name + 'Sabeomnim'. I have noticed that korean visitors sometimes use 'Kwanjangnim' for our school leader,but this is not a title he requests in any way.

He doesn't use any master or grandmaster title when referring to himself, just his name. Even in writing, just his dan grade and academic qualifications.

It seems in keeping with our tenets (modesty) that titles are something that others should choose bestow upon a person at each individual occasion as appropriate, rather than being blanket applied.

People get too focused on it in my opinion. For the same reason, I don't wear stripes on my belt. People can see in me whatever qualities they like, based upon my behaviour at that time. Doesn't bother me if they line up in front of me, and I will defer by default if I don't know their grade, it really doesn't matter. And a good instructor can see from what I'm doing where I am at.
 

Balrog

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In our style, when you promote to 6th Degree, you become a Master Candidate. You are then evaluated by the Powers That Be with criteria over and above what was required for rank promotion, and if all the criteria are met, you are invited to join the next Master's class. You spend a year doing extra training, both physical and mental, then you are inducted as a Master Instructor. The process is repeated for 7th Degree and Sr. Master as well as 8th Degree and Chief Master. There is a totally different set of requirements for 9th Degree and Grand Master.

I went through the Master's training two years ago and SWMBO is going through it now. It's a reasonably grueling process and it really helps you understand a lot more about the title and the responsibility that goes with it.
 

Dirty Dog

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Real simple KKW standards is 4th is consider Master and 8th is consider Grand Master.

Well, it would be "[r]eal simple" if the KKW were the be all and end all of TKD. It's not.

It is what it is and every single person I know in Olympic taekwondo is mainly called coach, but the title stay in the dojaang. Last thing Sabanim is a school owner not Kwanjanim that is for the kwon leader only.

That is incorrect. The title is "sabum", not "sabumnim". The -nim is an honorific indicating respect, and is only applied by others, never by oneself.
The translation of "sabum" is "teacher", and of "kwanjang" is "headmaster" or "leader of the school". "Kwan" means school.
So what you've said above is "[incorrrect translation of teacher] 'respected school leader' is for the school leader only". Yeah. Sure. That would most often be the person who owns the school.
Now, if that person considers their school to be subservient or guided by someone else, it would certainly be their prerogative to NOT use the title of Kwanjang. It's certainly their prerogative to use it, though, since all it really means is 'the person who runs the school'.

Personally, I think of the kwanjang as the head of the system, but I recognize that this is NOT the real translation of the terms, and that others are free to use them differently. Especially since we are (as I've said before) trying to impose western concepts on eastern terms.
 
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Spookey

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Well, it would be "[r]eal simple" if the KKW were the be all and end all of TKD. It's not.

Now, if that person considers their school to be subservient or guided by someone else, it would certainly be their prerogative to NOT use the title of Kwanjang. It's certainly their prerogative to use it, though, since all it really means is 'the person who runs the school'.

Personally, I think of the kwanjang as the head of the system, but I recognize that this is NOT the real translation of the terms, and that others are free to use them differently. Especially since we are (as I've said before) trying to impose western concepts on eastern terms.

Sir, I couldn't agree more with your post!

I am a 5th Degree Black Belt w/ International Instructor License from both World Taekwon-Do Alliance and Korea Taekwondo Oh Do Kwan. Although I am the gym owner, I still consider my gym an extension of my instructors gym family (kwan) as well as our associations. Accordingly, I am the "Sabum" or Master of the School (Coach to most of my students) yet I as well as my students respect my instructor as Kwan-Jang. Furthermore, we all respect GM Kong Young Il as "Chong Kwan Jang" of the W.T.A and GM Han, Myung Hak as "Chong Kwan Jang of Daehan Taekwondo Oh Do Kwan.

In our instance, we are actually trying not avoid imposing western concepts into eastern traditions!
 

Archtkd

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Well, it would be "[r]eal simple" if the KKW were the be all and end all of TKD. It's not.

That is incorrect. The title is "sabum", not "sabumnim". The -nim is an honorific indicating respect, and is only applied by others, never by oneself.
The translation of "sabum" is "teacher", and of "kwanjang" is "headmaster" or "leader of the school". "Kwan" means school.
So what you've said above is "[incorrrect translation of teacher] 'respected school leader' is for the school leader only". Yeah. Sure. That would most often be the person who owns the school.

And it gets more complicated if you really want to stick to the Kukkiwon brand. Strictly speaking, the Kukkiwon will only consider sabum (teacher of teachers) to be folks who, in addition to being 4th dan and up, have taken the leadership academy course and test (jidoja yunsuwon) at the Kukkiwon’s World Taekwondo Academy in Korea (and rarely offered by the Kukkiwon in some other nations, including the U.S). That course is held for foreigners -- thanks largely to the efforts of the late GM Al Cole -- once a year in Korea around July. Once you have successfully completed that course you also take the "Sabum Gye Gyuk Jung" exam (only if you hold 4th Dan Kukkiwon and above). If you pass that test, you are granted certification from Kukkiwon, which states that you are a qualified "Taekwondo Sabum", or Taekwondo master Instructor. There are 3 classes of Sabum -- 3rd, 2nd and 1st.

Of couse in the U.S and many other parts of the world you can do whatever you want. You don't have to have any rank in taekwondo or any martial art to open a dojang and call yourself a taekwondo kwanjag-nim, sabum-nim, or 15th degree Supreme God-Grandmaster. Also, you do not need to have any rank in taekwondo to be a taekwondo (WTF style sparring) coach.
 

skribs

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My limited understanding is that there is a minimum rank to be master, but just being that rank doesn't make you a master.
 

wildpsyd

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Is this only a TKD forum? I thought this was a forum for a practitioner of any system of martial art? Anyway...

In my Isshin-ryu school (Okinawan not Japanese), we do use honorifics as mentioned above but they aren't tightly assigned to a specific black belt rank but roughly correspond to them and seemingly modified by number of years practicing:

Renshi - expert instructor - 4th Dan and above

Shihan - chief instructor - 5th Dan and above

Kyōshi - master instructor - 6th Dan and above.

Hanshi - teacher of instructors - 8th Dan and above.
 

toddfletcher

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In TKD (WTF type) 4th Dan is a Master. Grandmaster, in my experience, is a person who is of sufficient skill and experience to train masters.

However, and as has been said, they are all just titles that only have meaning within an organization. Consider this... if a 2nd Dan where to take his training and alter it enough to be considered a new version of TKD outside any existing organization - open a school, teach and ultimate train students to mastery of his new style - he would likely consider him self the 'Grand master' of his style. That is essentially where all the first grandmasters came from.
 

Tony Dismukes

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However, and as has been said, they are all just titles that only have meaning within an organization. Consider this... if a 2nd Dan where to take his training and alter it enough to be considered a new version of TKD outside any existing organization - open a school, teach and ultimate train students to mastery of his new style - he would likely consider him self the 'Grand master' of his style. That is essentially where all the first grandmasters came from.
Yeah, that's pretty much where the plethora of "Grandmasters" in various modern arts came from. A bunch of guys realized that by heading out on their own and re-branding their practice as "JoeBob's White Mantis Kempo-jitsu", they could jump from 2nd Dan to 10th Dan and put "Grandmaster" on their business cards.
 

Tez3

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Yeah, that's pretty much where the plethora of "Grandmasters" in various modern arts came from. A bunch of guys realized that by heading out on their own and re-branding their practice as "JoeBob's White Mantis Kempo-jitsu", they could jump from 2nd Dan to 10th Dan and put "Grandmaster" on their business cards.


I'd prefer to keep a very low rank and then rebrand etc. I'd impress everyone with my skill and knowledge then people would say 'wow if you can do all that at such a low rank imagine how effective this style is, we have to do this!" :D
 

toddfletcher

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JoeBob's White Mantis Kempo-jitsu

Hey thanks! you just came up with my new style name. I might add Do at the end to make it sound authentic. LOL. Reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite.

On the serious side of this point. I have had this discussion with fellow practitioners. I know several organization heads (grandmasters) that insist everyone train 'their way'. But I can't help think that they did not get to where they are by following the system they want everyone else to follow. Is it not the initiative to challenge convention while still holding to correct traditions that breed innovation?
 

toddfletcher

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You misspelled "KKW". Hope this helps.
The WTF has nothing whatsoever to do with rank or titles. You really ought to know this.

I realize you are trying to differentiate between the federation and kikkiwon, but the general point is still made as the two are related. If one is a member of the WTF, you are likely to have your rank and title established by Kikkiwon - as oppose to being apart of the ITF or whatever other flavor of organization.
 
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Dirty Dog

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I realize you are trying to differentiate between the federation and kikkiwon, but the general point is still made as the two are related. If one is a member of the WTF, you are likely to have your rank and title established by Kikkiwon - as oppose to being apart of the ITF or whatever other flavor of organization.

Except, of course, that the WTF doesn't have individual or schools as members. It's membership is wholly made up of National Governing Bodies that regulate Olympic competition.
You can be a member of the KKW and your rank will (not likely, WILL) be issued by the KKW. Same for the ITF, GTF, ATA or any other org that sets standards and issues rank. The WTF is not one of those.
 
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