The seven current members of the Grading Panel of SOMA are as follows:
Hanshi Barrie Revell (10th Dan)
Kyoshi Gary Simpson (8th Dan) - Consultant
Renshi Tony Caruso (6th Dan)
Renshi Glen Middleton (4th Dan)
Grading fees are covered by the SOMA’s publication entitled: “General Requirements for the Promotion of Rank of Members.” This copyrighted document is held strictly in custody by the President and is available for viewing by appointment or at any official SOMA meeting.
Other members can be “co-opted” as required for specific grading assessments if the Panel believes it has insufficient knowledge or specific information to make an informed, fair and proper decision.
All ranks and titles are awarded on merit and are governed by the provision of the “General Requirements for the Promotion of Rank of Members.” This is based on internationally accepted budo and general martial arts standards. A list of titles and ranks currently in use (and those that have previously been used in the SOMA) are listed below along with approximate translations. SOMA only recognizes ranks and titles within the SOMA that have been accepted by the Grading Panel, passed by the Board and recorded into the Minutes. Members may claim ranks outside the SOMA from other organisations.
In alphabetical order, the approximate translations of titles that are (or have been) used in SOMA, are as follows:
Founder (Generic) – a founding member.
Grand Master (Generic) – the ultimate master of a style or organisation.
Hanshi (Japanese) – “polished master” (similar to a Professor – 8th to 10th Dan).
Kancho (Japanese) – usually the head of a style or an Association in a country or the world.
Kensei (Japanese) – Sword master.
Kyoshi (Japanese) – “polished teacher” (similar to a Master of Arts – 6th to 8th Dan).
Professor (Generic) – an acknowledged expert of his/her own style of a very large organization.
Renshi (Japanese) – “polished practitioner” (similar to a Bachelor of Arts – 4th to 6th Dan).
Sempai (Japanese) – assistant or assistant teacher or senior
can be a senior kyu grade (sub black belt) but most often a 1 st or 2nd Dan.
Sensei (Japanese) – literally “one who has gone before” or teacher – any rank.
Shihan (Japanese) – a collective term that can encompass Renshi, Kyoshi, Hanshi and the like
(in effect, a generic term that covers 6th to 10th Dan)
Sifu (Chinese) – teacher (Chinese equivalent of Japanese Sensei).
Sijo (Chinese) – literally “Ancestor” or Founder of Style
Tashi (Japanese) – “experienced practitioner” (most often a senior 3rd or 4th Dan)
Note: Not all martial artists of the rank of black belt qualify for a title. Some clubs simply do not use them and some only use the basic titles of Sempai, Sensei and Sifu. As a general rule, rank (or grade) is personal whereas a title is a mark of respect for what the recipient has done for others or for extra knowledge. However, some clubs use different systems. And anomalies can and do occur.