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Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Grades

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/25 Traditional Culture ,

Just like other martial arts, practitioners also are ranked by kendo grades.

Kendo Grades

Technical achievement in kendo is measured by advancement in grade, rank or level. The kyū (級) and dan (段) grading system, created in 1883, is used to indicate one’s proficiency in kendo. The dan levels are from first-dan (初段 sho-dan) to tenth-dan (十段 jū-dan). There are usually six grades below first-dan, known as kyu. The kyu numbering is in reverse order, with first kyu (一級 ikkyū) being the grade immediately below first dan, and sixth kyu (六級 rokkyū) being the lowest grade. There are no visible differences in dress between kendo grades; those below dan-level may dress the same as those above dan-level.

kendo diploma

A 7-dan certificate/diploma. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Eighth-dan (八段 hachi-dan) is the highest dan grade attainable through a test of physical kendo skills. In the AJKF the grades of ninth-dan (九段 kyū-dan) and tenth-dan are no longer awarded, but ninth-dan kendōka are still active in Japanese kendo. International Kendo Federation (FIK) grading rules allow national kendo organizations to establish a special committee to consider the award of those grades.

All candidates for examination face a panel of examiners. A larger, more qualified panel is usually assembled to assess the higher dan grades. Kendo examinations typically consist of jitsugi, a demonstration of the skill of the applicants, Nihon Kendo Kata and a written exam. The eighth-dan kendo exam is extremely difficult, with a reported pass rate of less than 1 percent.

Kendo Grade Advancement Requirement

Requirements for dan grade examination within FIK affiliated organisations.
Grade Requirement Age requirement
1-dan 1-kyū At least 13 years old
2-dan At least 1 year of training after receiving 1-dan
3-dan At least 2 years of training after receiving 2-dan
4-dan At least 3 years of training after receiving 3-dan
5-dan At least 4 years of training after receiving 4-dan
6-dan At least 5 years of training after receiving 5-dan
7-dan At least 6 years of training after receiving 6-dan
8-dan At least 10 years of training after receiving 7-dan At least 46 years old

Kendoka Titles

Titles (称号 shōgō) can be earned in addition to the above dan grades by kendōka of a defined dan grade. These are renshi (錬士), kyōshi (教士), and hanshi (範士). The title is affixed to the front of the dan grade when said, for example renshi roku-dan (錬士六段).

Renshi (錬士) – Required grade is 6-dan. After receiving 6-dan, one must wait 1 or more years, pass screening by the kendo organization, receive a recommendation from the regional organization president then pass an exam on kendo theory.

Kyōshi (教士) – Required grade is renshi 7-dan. After receiving 7-dan, one must wait 2 or more years, pass screening by the kendo organization, and receive a recommendation from the regional organization president then pass an exam on kendo theory.

Ranshi (範士) – Required grade is kyōshi 8-dan. After receiving 8-dan, one must wait 8 or more years, pass screening by the kendo organisation, receive a recommendation from the regional organisation president and the national kendo organisation president then pass an exam on kendo theory.

What are your thoughts about kendōka grading? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

References:

1. Kendo. Wikipedia.

2. Featured Image from Wikimedia Commons

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