Dan Grades and Titles

Dan Grades and Titles

Beyond the standard kyu grades there are are a series of grades applicable to black belts known as dans, also referred to as ‘degrees.’ This is a simple list of dan grades and titles. There may be some inaccuracies with the spelling, for which I apologise in advance – if you’d like to email the webmaster with the correct spelling please do so.

Please also note that the periods of time specified between dan grades follows the traditional system, the system used by us. Some clubs/organisations follow their ‘own path,’ hence the reason you’ll find 11 year old 3rd Dans populating the martial arts world and references to 13th, 14th or 15th dans. A confusing situation for both students and instructors.

1st Dan – Shodan
This is the first black belt. Usually takes 7 to 10 years to earn an IAJJ black belt and candidate must be 18 years of age. Cadet black belts (under 18) are designated ‘Shodan-ho’

2nd Dan – Nidan
Grade traditionally taken a minimum of 2 years after 1st Dan grading

3rd Dan – Sandan
Grade traditionally taken a minimum of 3 years after 2nd Dan grading

4th Dan – Yodan
Grade traditionally taken a minimum of 4 years after 3rd Dan grading

5th Dan – Godan
Grade traditionally taken a minimum of 5 years after 4th Dan grading – from this point on dan grades are usually awarded for services to the arts or organisation and focus on teaching skills rather than ‘endurance’ technique testing.

6th Dan – Rokudan
Grade traditionally taken a minimum of 6 years after 5th Dan grading

7th Dan – Sichidan
Grade traditionally taken a minimum of 7 years after 6th Dan grading.

8th Dan – Hachidan
Grade traditionally taken a minimum of 8 years after 7th Dan grading

9th Dan – Kyudan
Grade traditionally taken a minimum of 9 years after 8th Dan grading

10th Dan – Judan
Grade traditionally taken a minimum of 10 years after 9th Dan grading

Beyond 10th dan…well, if you follow this traditional formula you’ll see that it’s rare impossible to acheive a rank beyond 10th dan.

Teaching titles
This is a small list of dan grade teaching titles – once again apologies for any spelling inaccuracies:

Sensei – Usually accepted as meaning ‘teacher,’ but means ‘one who has gone before.’ Nearly always a black belt but doesn’t have to be.

Tashi – Not sure about this one, have heard it described as ‘polished or accomplished 2nd dan.’ but have also found find references of it being applied to 4th dans.

Renshi – “Polished teacher” or “he/she who trains.” In some clubs the title is applied to 5th dans.

Kyoshi – “Teacher of teachers” or “he/she who teaches” also used for 7th dans by some clubs.

Hanshi – “Master teacher” or “master” or “he/she who is an example” or the head of an organisation.

Shihan – “Master teacher”