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Karate Titles

In many Karate organizations, 10th dan tends to be the highest level. This rank is usually reserved for the founder or leader of a Karate style.

  • Dai-Sempai: dai meaning “big” or great” and often used in the context “big brother of the class” (usually given to a 1st kyu brown belt and junior black belt)
  • Senpai/Sempai: means “mentor” or “senior” often used to indicate an assistant instructor (usually 1st and 2nd dan)
  • Sensei: means “one who came before” or has walked the path before and often used to indicate a fully capable teacher (usually given at 2nd or 3rd dan but can be given later)
  • Shihan: is a master title for a senior instructor (earlies given at 4th dan) and equivalent to a doctorate degree
  • Renshi: is a master title meaning “polished expert” (usually given at 6th dan)
  • Kyoshi: is a master title meaning “teacher of teachers” (usually given at 7th dan)
  • Hanshi: is a master title for the head master of a style
  • Soke: is the absolute head of a style
  • Shodai-Soke: is the founder of a style

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