What is a Shihan in the Bujinkan?

Fushichou

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Okay, I have yet to study in the Bujinkan, but I am interested in doing so and I'm trying to understand as much about the organization as I can before I join.

I understand Shidoshi-ho and Shidoshi (or at least I think I do), that anyone between 1st and 4th Dan can be sponsored by a Shidoshi and become a Shidoshi-ho and award up to one rank below their current rank through the training they offer, and once a member reaches 5th Dan they may become a Shidoshi and award up to 4th Dan through the training they offer.

However, what is the distinction between a Shidoshi and a Shihan, and are there any privileges that come with being a Shihan?

From what I can gather, you either become a Shihan at either 15th Dan, 10th Dan, or by consensus of Hatsumi-sensei and the other Shihan, and being a Shihan means you have a plaque with your name on it at the Bujinkan hombu dojo, and sometimes a Shihan will administer the 5th Dan test under the supervision of Hatsumi-sensei.

So, what do I not understand about the role of the title of Shihan within the Bujinkan?
 

DWeidman

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However, what is the distinction between a Shidoshi and a Shihan, and are there any privileges that come with being a Shihan?

From what I can gather, you either become a Shihan at either 15th Dan, 10th Dan, or by consensus of Hatsumi-sensei and the other Shihan...

The rule I like the most is: You aren't a shihan until the original shihan group refer to you as a shihan.

So, what do I not understand about the role of the title of Shihan within the Bujinkan?

Looks like you covered your bases pretty well. You understand it as well as most anyone does.

Be wary of anyone claiming to be a Shihan themselves. It is an honorific. Most round eyes with that title on their own web-page don't fit under my rule...

-Daniel
 

Grey Eyed Bandit

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However, what is the distinction between a Shidoshi and a Shihan, and are there any privileges that come with being a Shihan?

People have been known to say that you're a shihan when other shihan refer to you by that title.
My opinion is that you're a shihan when other shihan refer to you by that title even when you're not present.

As for priviliges, the most diplomatic answer I can give you is this - because there are no limits to how far you can progress within the Bujinkan, some people are bound to choose the easy way. Basically this means that assuming that all things are in order, you can be just as good or as bad as you want to be, and everyone could care less about which.
 

bljohnson

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A shihan is a senior instructor . You become a Shihan when you reach 10 dan but to do that you must have 3 letters of recommendation from other Shihan. Only 15th dans are allowed to give the godan test. Bujinkan goes up to 15 dan levels because this represents the 15 yrs Sensei Hatsumi trained with Takamatsu.
 

Tez3

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Methinks waiting for five years for an answer is a tad long. We have plenty of current threads and conversations going on.
 

stone_dragone

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While I completely agree that 5 years is too long & we have threads of interest that are newer, now this one has some new traffic too which is good, especially for those interested in the topic without the to time to dig through every post on this awesome forum.

As to the original topic - I'd assume that those three letters are sent autonomously (without prompting)? To me, asking for a letter for such a thing would be like asking for a title or promotion. It would seem that by the time someone gets to that level, Hatsumi would be considered their teacher, and unlikely to ask himself for a letter... Obviously, I'm not involved with the bujinkan or any -kan, so my responses are somewhat questions as well.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Chris Parker

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As the topic has been brought up, we might as well answer as completely as we can.

From a technical standpoint, any person ranked Judan (10th Dan) or above is considered a "Shihan" in the Bujinkan hierarchy (indeed, it could be taken that that is the highest rank, as the 11th-15th Dan rankings are really just subdivisions of 10th, not really 11th, 12th, 13th etc), with those who are at the top of that ranking (Jugodan, 15th Dan in common use, which is really Judan Kugyo Happo Biken, or 10th Dan "Void" Element Eight Methods of Secret Weapons) being considered "true" Shihan. Hatsumi has said that such 15th Dans are "born" from him, and therefore represent his art.

There is a school of thought within the Bujinkan, though, that rejects this description of what makes a "Shihan", primarily due to the almost non-existent requirements for attaining such rankings, instead choosing to, in a way, ignore Hatsumi's take on what he considers a "Shihan" in his organisation, and only applying the title to a group of senior Japanese teachers, referred to collectively as the "Shitenno" (almost literally "Four Heavenly Kings"), namely Nagato, Seno, Noguchi, and Oguri Sensei. The criteria is a combination of their length of time under Hatsumi (except Nagato), as well as a separate ranking to the Dan ranking, Menkyo Kaiden. Now here's where it gets a little tricky, as that really shouldn't have any relation to their position as a Bujinkan Shihan or not.

To explain...

Menkyo Kaiden is (often) the highest licencing in a particular individual Ryu-ha, or school, and signifies the recipients authority to pass on and teach that particular Ryu. It has nothing to do with the Bujinkan art of Budo Taijutsu, which is what the Dan ranking is in. It's like saying that the best teachers of maths are those with degrees in chemistry. Unless those teachers are teaching the Ryu they're licenced in, it's not relevant to their position in the Bujinkan. And if they are teaching those particular Ryu, separate and individual apart from the Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu ideas and concepts, then they're not teaching Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, so the position is moot.

Now, this isn't to diminish the Menkyo ranking, just to point out that it's tangental, at best, to whether or not you are considered to be teaching the Bujinkan approach. For an example, even when a particular Ryu-ha is the yearly theme of the Bujinkan, the kata of the Ryu in question are used more as a "jumping off" point, with the concepts and ideas explored from there, while being perfectly valid from a Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu point of view, often contradict the actual Ryu the kata is taken from itself.

So, the answer is simply that, to be a "Shihan" in the Bujinkan, you just need to have a rank of 10th Dan or higher, although that isn't followed even by everyone in the Bujinkan itself. And to be awarded Judan, all you need is to be nominated by one Shihan, and have that seconded by two others. And yes, that is something that a number of people have asked for, rather than waiting to be put forth, which can lead to some very fast promotions. One of the fastest that I know of is one Craig Brogna (http://craigbrogna.com/), who started training at age 23, sat for his Godan (5th Dan, which allows you to be an official teacher, or Shidoshi, and is the only physical test in the Bujinkan, a sensory test involving a sword strike from behind that you need to avoid) two years later at age 25, and three years after that was nominated and awarded his Judan. That's zero to 10th Dan in 5 years. And one of the main reasons seems to be his teacher, one Chris Carbonaro, who also got Judan in less than 10 years.

That test for Godan, by the way, is this:

And same again, but with some less-successful candidates....
 
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skuggvarg

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Here is my personal opinion on who is and who isnt a Shihan.

A Shihan is beyond grades and naturally never reveals his grade or chase grades. He never calls himself a Shihan and would never fall to such low levels as to use his status to earn money. The phrase "my name is my grade" comes to mind. He has vast knowledge and experience in the ryu-ha he is part of, having recieved teachings directly from the head of the ryu-ha (of course he speaks and reads japanese). That, and yeah one more thing, this is martial arts so he should naturally be able to put you down with little effort. Else there is a high risc he is a "false" Shihan :)

Regards / Skuggvarg
 

Chris Parker

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Here is my personal opinion on who is and who isnt a Shihan.

That's really the thing, though, Richard, it's your personal opinion. Now, that's perfectly valid, and shows your values, and where your respect goes, but that only applies to yourself and your personal usage of the term, rather than the actual usage of the term itself. Additionally, it's a little flawed, to be frank.

A Shihan is beyond grades and naturally never reveals his grade or chase grades.

As a Shihan is the highest ranked, chasing grades isn't really relevant, nor is the idea of "revealing" your grade. If you're a Shihan, then your grade is known. And no, it's not "beyond grades", it's a title applied to the most senior (highest graded) instructors.

He never calls himself a Shihan and would never fall to such low levels as to use his status to earn money.

That's a good ideal, but really has nothing to do with whether or not the individual is a Shihan.

The phrase "my name is my grade" comes to mind. He has vast knowledge and experience in the ryu-ha he is part of, having recieved teachings directly from the head of the ryu-ha (of course he speaks and reads japanese).

Which brings us to the idea of what they are a Shihan of... if it's of the Ryu, then yes. If it's of the Bujinkan (not the Ryu), then no.

That, and yeah one more thing, this is martial arts so he should naturally be able to put you down with little effort. Else there is a high risc he is a "false" Shihan :)

Regards / Skuggvarg

A little more detail may be needed to put that into context, after all, just being able to "put you down" doesn't mean the person has the first clue about the Bujinkan's methods... and it doesn't take into account a range of, say, weaponry skills. Skill with a Bo, for instance, doesn't really mean that you can "put someone down", and being able to "put someone down" doesn't mean you're skilled in the art itself.

I might also point out that the criteria you've listed can be applied to people that aren't Shihan without much issue, for instance Kacem Zoughari (according to his fanbase).

Kacem is a Godan, although that isn't used as a selling point for the invitations he receives to teach seminars, and, by Bujinkan standards, he can certainly be said to not be "chasing rank". According to the fanbase, again, Kacem has "vast knowledge and experience in the Ryu-ha... having received teachings directly from the head of the ryu-ha", and he speaks and reads Japanese as well. Many are also convinced that Kacem has no problem "putting someone down" either.

So he fits your description without too much issue... but is he a Shihan?
 
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