Shihan (師範?) is a Japanese term, often used in Japanese martial arts as an honorific title for expert or senior instructors. The term is frequently used interchangeably with English terms such as "master instructor".
In aikido the title, shihan, is used by the rank of 7th dan, that takes many years to achieve. It is sometimes associated with certain rights, such as the right to give out black belt (dan) ranks in the name of the organization. However, the title is generally distinct from the black belt ranking system (dan'i).
The use of the term is completely style or organization specific, as is the process of becoming a shihan. Within the Bujinkan it has been said that you become a shihan when the other shihan start calling you a shihan. although in other organizations it is achieved with obtaining a particular higher dan grade. In other organizations, for example Shodokan Aikido, the title is organizational and less strongly correlated to rank.
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