Belt Ranks from white belt to 10th degree Black Belt

                                                         Belt progress in most Japanese karate systems

 

A number of people have asked about the titles black belts and instructors receive as they train.  At each level of training becomes more challenging physically as well as mentally.  The black belt should be an active part of a recognized school and must also train diligently on his or her own.  Each of the titles should be awarded, as ranks are, by a qualified instructor of the appropriate rank, not taken as people often do.

 

Renshi – 5th  DEGREE BLACK BELT [12 to 16 years after 1st Dan] & 6th  DEGREE BLACK BELT [5 years after 5th  Dan] The  Renshi  title indicates a “polished instructor”  and may be awarded by an instructor who is earned the title of Kyoshi.

 

At times an instructor may have a student who is close in rank.  For example a 6th Dan may have a student who is a 5th Dan.  In some cases the use of the term, Renshi, may confuse lower rank students as to who is the higher ranking black belt.  At the rank of 6th Dan another term may be awarded to help clarify this situation.  Shihan is a Japanese term, often used in Japanese martial arts as an honorific title for senior instructors. The term is frequently used interchangeably with English terms such as “senior instructor”.

 

Various martial arts organizations have different requirements for the usage of the title, but in general it is a high title, 6th dan or above, that takes many years to achieve.  The title, like other advanced titles (Renshi, Kyoshi, and Hanshi) must be  awarded by someone who is at least a 7th or 8th Dan and who has been awarded the title of Kyoshi.  It is generally distinct from the black belt ranking system and in schools which are members of my association of dojos, the idividual must be a teacher of his or her own school and have promoted people to at least the rank of Renshi.

 

Kyoshi – 7th DEGREE BLACK BELT  [5 years after 6th Dan] & 8th DEGREE BLACK BELT [5 years after7th Dan] and should be at least 50+ years of age] The “Kyo” in Kyoshi means “professor” or “philosophy”. Therefore, Kyoshi equals a “professor” capable of teaching the philosophy of the martial arts.  An instructor who has earned the title of Kyoshi should award this title by a person who has earned the title of Hanshi and this person should still be active in a dojo and also train diligently on his or her own.

 

Hanshi – 9th DEGREE BLACK BELT  & 10th DEGREE BLACK BELT   The “Han” in Hanshi means “example, model” and indicates “a teacher that can serve as an ideal model for others”, or a “senior master”.  This is a very special title representing the highest levels of martial arts, a teacher of other teachers and demonstrates personal growth and an in depth understanding of the style.

 

The 9th degree should have at least 40 consistent adult years of diligent training in Isshin-ryu Karate in the dojo and continued study on his or her own.  Beyond this the individual should be respected by his or her peers and a valued part of the martial art’s community.

 

The 10th degree is reserved traditionally for the founder of the style.  The rank, title and responsibilities inherent in the designation may be handed down from the founder to an heir.

 

The systematic use of belt color to denote the rank was first used in Japan by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, who first devised the colored belt system using obi (sash), and awarded the first black belts to denote a Dan rank in the 1880s. Previously, Japanese Koryu instructors tended to provide certificates.[3] Initially the wide obi was used; as practitioners trained in kimono, only white and black obi were used. It was not until the early 1900s, after the introduction of the judogi, that an expanded colored belt system of awarding rank was created.[2] Other martial arts later adopted the custom or a variation of it (e.g., using colored sashes) to denote rank. This includes martial arts that traditionally did not have a formalized rank structure. This kind of ranking is less common in arts that do not claim a far eastern origin, though it is used in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

 

Relative rank[edit]

 

Two aikido black belts training

Rank and belts are not equivalent between arts, styles, or even within some organizations. In some arts, a black belt is expected in three years, while in others ten years may be common. Testing for black belt is commonly more rigorous and more centralized than for lower grades.

 

Ability[edit]

In contrast to the "black belt as master" stereotype, a black belt commonly indicates the wearer is competent in a style's basic technique and principles.[2] Since in many styles a black belt takes approximately three to six years of training to achieve, a possible analogy might be a bachelor's degree: the student has a good understanding of fundamental concepts and ability, but has not yet perfected their skills. In this analogy a graduate degree would represent advancement past the first degree. Brazilian jiu-jitsu would be a notable exception to this, as a black belt for a jiu-jitsu practitioner typically takes 7-12 years of training to earn, and a black belt holder is generally viewed as an expert in the art.

 

Another way to describe this links to the terms used in Japanese arts; shodan (for a first degree black belt), means literally the first/beginning step, and the next grades, nidan and sandan are each numbered as "ni" is two and "san" is three, meaning second step, third step, etc. The shodan black belt is not the end of training but rather as a beginning to advanced learning: the individual now "knows how to walk" and may thus begin the "journey".

 

As a "black belt" is commonly viewed as conferring some status, achieving one has been used as a marketing "gimmick", for example a guarantee of being awarded one within a specific period or if a specific amount is paid.[4] Some schools place profit ahead of ability when using these tactics and are sometimes referred to as McDojos or belt factories.[5]

 

Teaching[edit]

In some Japanese schools, after obtaining a black belt the student also begins to instruct, and may be referred to as a senpai (senior student) or sensei (teacher). In others, a black belt student should not be called sensei until they are sandan (third degree black belt), or the titles kyosa or Sabomnim in Korean martial arts as second degree or higher, as this denotes a greater degree of experience and a sensei must have this and grasp of what is involved in teaching a martial art.

 

 

Some martial art schools use embroidered bars to denote different levels of black belt rank, as shown on these taekwondo 1st, 2nd, and 3rd dan black belts.

Higher grades[edit]

In Japanese martial arts the further subdivisions of black belt ranks may be linked to dan grades and indicated by 'stripes' on the belt. Yūdansha (roughly translating from Japanese to "person who holds a dan grade") is often used to describe those who hold a black belt rank. While the belt remains black, stripes or other insignia may be added to denote seniority, in some arts, very senior grades will wear differently colored belts. In judo and some forms of karate, a sixth dan will wear a red and white belt. The red and white belt is often reserved only for ceremonial occasions, and a regular black belt is still worn during training. At 9th or 10th dan some schools award red. In some schools of Jujutsu, the Shihan rank and higher wear purple belts. These other colors are often still referred to collectively as "black belts".[4][6]



Request more information


Request More Information

Cancel

Let us e-mail you this Free Report


Cancel