To me there’s one underlying principle that should be followed for you to call yourself a “Master”. It’s what I refer to as “creating something from nothing”. Most practitioners are basically followers of someone or something. Albeit, some may be very youthful, powerful and earnest and have more energy than others, possibly displaying excellent technique, but they’re still followers.For instance, those of us, who seek depth to our training, by seeking the “meaning” of our kata are still “following” the path of the creator of the original kata. Also, there are those individuals who bastardize the original kata and create what they call “their” way of doing the kata and call themselves masters and may even promote themselves to high degrees.
I look at individuals who achieve the rank of 6th dan and above as dedicated, generally older individuals who found a way to make their kata continually be effective even if they are 45, 50, 60 years old and possibly older. Those high ranks, as most of us know, are tied to character, age, time in grade and the ability to still do kata correctly. But are they Masters?
I believe they are not. What about the individuals who are or were great fighters, the one’s who, in the past, dedicated their youth to beating up all comers? The notion that you’re a master because you won a few matches, or even many matches, in a contest is absurd. Everyone and anyone can be beaten on a given day given the right circumstances. Also, the contrasting view applies. You can beat anyone in a contest on a given day with the right circumstances. Those of us who’ve competed know what those circumstances generally are.