Sho-Go – Master’s Titles

SHO-GO is the masters title-system set up by the Dai-Nippon Butoku-kai (greater Japan Budo Encouragement Federation established in 1895 in Kyoto). It is consist of three ranks, Renshi, Kyoshi and Hanshi. The sho-go awarded by the All Japan Karate Do Federation (shitokai) and World Shitoryu Karate do Federation (WSKF), will consist of the three similar ranks and are therefore classical ranks/titles similar to Samurai titles given under the auspices of Japan’s Imperial Family during feudal times. The award of sho-go is based on each individual’s knowledge, teaching ability and the outstanding development of character through the study of the karate. Therefore it is important to realize that in the modern approach to karate, these titles/ranks are much more difficult to achieve than the conventional Dan grades and are not automatically assigned with rank or seniority. The holder of these titles must also have made significant contributions to the karate community at large.

The title/sho-go may or may not be given to a Fellow on application, or may be awarded after the fellow has been in fellowship for some time. The three awarded by the All Japan Karate Do Federation (shitokai) and World Shitoryu Karate do Federation (WSKF). as previously stated are:

  1. Renshi 
    which may be awarded to 6th Dan and above, holding Shihan Degree, over 35 years old. And a thesis. A subject concerning technique, tactic or philosophy (minimum 800 words). If you pass the thesis, you can try practical skill about your thesis.
  2. Kyoshi 
    which may be awarded to 7th Dan and above over 48 years old and 6 years after 7th Dan and 6 years after Renshi. And a thesis. A subject concerning technique, tactic or philosophy (minimum 1200 words). If you pass the thesis, you can try practical skill about your thesis.
  3. Hanshi 
    which may be awarded to 8th Dan and above over 58 years old 10 years after 8th Dan and 10 years after Kyoshi. And a thesis. A subject concerning technique, tactic or philosophy (minimum 2000 words). If you pass the thesis, you can try practical skill about your thesis.

The meaning of the sho-go

The character “Ren” means “polished, tempered” and “shi” means “person”. Thus Renshi indicates a “polished instructor” or expert. Renshi may be awarded to the modern rank of 6th Dan or above.

The “Kyo” in Kyoshi means “professor” or “philosophy”. Therefore, Kyoshi equals a “professor” capable of teaching the philosophy of the martial arts. Kyoshi may be awarded to the modern rank of 7th Dan and above.

The “Han” in Hanshi means “example, model” and indicates “a teacher that can serve as an ideal model for others”, or a “senior master”. Hanshi may be awarded to the modern day rank of 8th and above.