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Shihan, kengo, kenshi, hanshi, grand supreme vizier pooh-bah?  What are their meanings and how do they work in the Shorinjiryu Shinzen Kyokai?  Every organization tends to adopt a methodology of ranking which satisfies it's particular needs while keeping the following in mind: any ranking system should reflect a common standard so that those groups outside the organization understand the nomenclature.

The following system of ranking and titles has been put into effect and is used by the Kyokai.

Mudansha - under black belts

10 kyu white 5 kyu green
9 kyu white / stripe 4 kyu green advanced
8 kyu yellow 3 kyu purple
7 kyu orange 2 kyu brown
6 kyu blue 1 kyu brown advanced

A few of the schools that have large children population have adopted a slightly different belt system by utilizing a belt with a black or white stripe down the center (we recommend a black stripe). However, the order of the kyu remains the same.

Yudansha ­ black belts

As with the mudansha, there are ten levels called dans. When one looks at the concept of rank and title or honorific, we are required to quickly understand that rank and title are two separate entities. Of extreme importance is the understanding that titles are not automatically awarded with rank. All yudansha wear the black belt. Ceremonial belts are just that, ceremonial and are worn only during special occasions. Shodan through godan are based upon technical skill, while rokudan and over are honorary titles based upon age, accomplishments, dedication, writing, longevity, contribution and teaching with the minimum age of a rokudan being 40 years of age.

Kohai (shodan-ho) junior black belt (usually under 18 years of age)
Shodan 1st degree black belt Rokudan 6th degree black belt
Nidan 2nd degree black belt Nanadan 7th degree black belt
Sandan 3rd degree black belt Hachidan 8th degree black belt
Shidan (Yon) 4th degree black belt Kyudan (Ku) 9th degree black belt
Godan 5th degree black belt Judan 10th degree black belt

Belt Colors ­ Ceremonial

Kohai (shodan-ho) black/brown panels
Shodan black Rokudan red/white panels
Nidan black Nanadan red/white panels*
Sandan Tri-color (black, white, red) Hachidan red/white panels*
Yondan Tri-color Kudan red
Godan Red/black panels Judan red
*The red panels are larger than the white as the rank progress

Stitching on the solid black belt.

Shodan ­ Yondan gold
Godan ­ Judan red/black

Titles & Requirements

Title Meaning Rank Age Suggested Years
of Practice
Sensei - one who came before
- the instructor
sandan 25 10
Tashi expert yondan 30 15
Renshi polished expert godan
Kyoshi master teacher nanadan
Hanshi master kyudan
55 min
60 min
35 min
45 min
Shihan is a very special title used for the chief instructors of yondan or higher with twenty years of experience and covers a broad range of higher ranks and ages.
Sensei The title of Sensei is an honorable one and can be used at all advanced levels.

The growth and the strength of the Kyokai have been in its ability to bring together many of the schools of Shorinjiryu. In order to maintain the credibility and worldwide respect already achieved we have decided to formally make known these prerequisites and standards. We understand that there are certain individuals whose proficiency, acumen, knowledge and concomitant with highly proficient pedagogical skills may be the exception to these standards. In each case, a careful examination of the circumstances will be made.

Please understand that the Kyokai respects the individual ranks and titles of its members. We also understand that there are exceptions to the aforementioned guidelines. Those gifted individuals should not and will not be overlooked. The Kyokai, also, understands that individual instructors may have one rank and title within their own school and another within the Kyokai.