Grading Criteria

The following grading criteria broadly apply to all divisions. There are some style-specific requirements and some styles such as Iaido typically have a shorter timespan and fewer Kyu grades than, for example Karate. The following are a guide.

1st Dan (Shodan)
Individuals who have passed an examination and successfully completed the training requirements as set by their division. Typically a minimum of 3 years training and a minimum age of 16. Some styles may award junior or cadet black belts.

2nd Dan (Nidan)
Individuals who have passed an examination and successfully completed the training requirements as set by their division. Minimum of 2 years after Shodan. Minimum age 18.

3rd Dan (Sandan)
Individuals who have passed an examination and successfully completed the training requirements as set by their division. Minimum of 3 years after Nidan. Minimum age 21.

4th Dan (Yodan)
Individuals who have passed an examination and successfully completed the training requirements as set by their division. Minimum of 4 years after Sandan. Minimum age 25.

RENSHI (polished teacher)
Minimum of two years since promotion to Yondan (4th Dan). Written essay or publication required. This is a shogo (teaching title) and is therefore not awarded on the strength of technical ability, but on reputation, experience and skill as a senior instructor. Minimum age 30. A “teacher of teachers” who other instructors look to for guidance.

5th Dan (Godan)
Individuals who have passed an examination and successfully completed the training requirements as set by their division. Minimum of 5 years after Yondan. Minimum age 30.

6th Dan (Rokudan)
This grade may be awarded on a time-served criteria without passing a physical examination, subject to the customs of the division. Minimum of 6 years after Godan.

KYOSHI (professor of the martial arts)
Minimum grade 6th Dan. Written essay or publication required. This is a shogo (teaching title) and is therefore not awarded on the strength of technical ability, but on reputation, experience and skill as a senior instructor. The ‘Kyo’ in kyoshi means philosopher or professor therefore this award signifies a teacher with a deep and thorough understanding of their art. A previous Renshi holder. Minimum age 40.

7th Dan (Nanadan)
This grade may be awarded on a time-served criteria without passing a physical examination, subject to the customs of the division. Minimum of 7 years after Rokudan.

8th Dan (Hachidan)
This grade may be awarded on a time-served criteria without passing a physical examination, subject to the customs of the division. Minimum of 8 years after Nanadan. Minimum age 50.

HANSHI (model teacher):
Minimum grade 8th Dan. Written essay or publication required. This is a shogo (teaching title) and is therefore not awarded on the strength of technical ability, but on reputation, experience and skill as a senior instructor. This shogo is awarded for outstanding service for development of martial arts. A person of outstanding character and proven leadership credentials. A previous Kyoshi holder.

9th Dan (Kyudan)
A very rare award for a senior and long standing headteacher. Minimum age 60.

10th Dan (Kyudan)
A very rare award for a senior and long standing headteacher. Minimum age 70.

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