What is a Shihan?
Shihan (teacher, model) is an expression out of Budo. The Shihan is – not only in Budo – a teacher of teachers or a professor; but is often also simply translated as master. Shi can be translated as teacher or expert, whereas Han as wise or example/model.
The Shihan is a grandmaster of martial arts. If he presides a style direction or a school, he’s also been called Saiko Shihan (highest teacher, preserver of the style). The title Shihan is awarded and cannot be taken by graduation. Together with the title Hanshi (9th and 10th Dan), it’s the highest title that can be earned in a martial art. Depending of the martial art, the minimum qualification is the 7th Dan. A Saiko Shihan which has been awarded the 9th Dan, receives at the same time the title of Hanshi Saiko Shihan.
Other teachers of a style direction can also receive the title of Shihan, if they also, as the Saiko Shihan, consign themselves to the preservation and the spread of this style. The minimum qualification therefore but is the 5th Dan, what implies the conclusion of the normal learning curve.