The use of the term is specific to a school or organization, as is the process of becoming a shihan. In aikido, the title shihan often is granted to teachers when they reach 6th dan.  It is sometimes associated with certain rights, such as the right to give out black belt (dan) ranks. However, the title is distinct from the black belt ranking system (段位 dan'i).
Within the Bujinkan, practitioners become a shihan when the other shihan start calling them a shihan, although in other organizations it is achieved with a certain dan grade. For example, in the Shudokan Martial Arts Association, the prerequisites of the shihan rank are: at least two years study beyond reaching 6th dan and completion of a written essay, magazine article, or book (2000 word minimum) about any aspect of budo or bujutsu. In other organizations, such as Shodokan Aikido, the title is organizational and less strongly correlated with rank.
- Aikido Journal definition
- Aikido World Headquarters ・ International Regulations
- Meik Skoss. "Shihan and Hanshi". Koryu.Com. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
- "Shudokan Martial Arts Association ranking system". Retrieved Feb 2, 2015.
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