This research is primarily from open sourced content such as wikipedia. I have modified and edited it a small amount. But this is meant loosely as a guide for your jumping off point if you want to chase after facts. If you feel something is wrong or in error, please, cite some references to help a claim of inaccurate information presented herein: This is just a loose reference, not to be taken as cannonical gospel. Please enjoy. Thank you. content as follows: The dan (段) ranking system is used by many Japanese organizations and Korean martial arts to indicate the level of one's ability within a certain subject matter. As a ranking system, it was originally used at a go school during the Edo period. It is now also used in modern fine arts and martial arts. Some Dan facts: Dan and Kyū ranks are indicated by belt color or by stripes on the belt Chinese for Dan is written in Traditional Chinese as 段 Simplified Chinese 段 Korean for Dan is written in Hangul as 단 and written in Hanja as 段 Japanese for Dan is written in Kanji as 段 and written in Hiragana as だん The system was applied to martial arts in Japan by Kanō Jigorō (1860–1938), the founder of judo, in 1883, and later introduced to other East Asian countries. In the modern Japanese martial arts, holders of dan ranks often wear a black belt; those of higher rank may also wear red-and-white and red belts. Dan ranks are also given for strategic board games such as go, Japanese chess (shōgi), and renju, as well as for cultural arts such as flower arrangement (ikebana), Japanese calligraphy (shodō) and tea ceremony (sadō). The Chinese character for the word dan (段) literally means step or stage in Japanese, but is also used to refer to one's rank or grade, i.e., one's degree or level of expertise and knowledge. In Chinese, however, the same character is spelled duàn, and was originally used to mean phase. Dan is often used together with the word kyū (級) in certain ranking systems, with dan being used for the higher ranks and kyū being used for lower ranks. History: The dan ranking system in go was devised by Hon'inbō Dōsaku (1645–1702), a professional go player in the Edo period. Prior to the invention, top-to-bottom ranking was evaluated by comparison of handicap and tended to be vague. Dosaku valued the then highest title holder, Meijin at 9 Dan. He was likely inspired by an ancient Chinese go ranking system (9 Pin Zhi) and an earlier court ranking system (nine-rank system), although lower numbers are more senior in those systems. Dan ranks were transferred to martial arts by Kanō Jigorō (1860–1938), the founder of judo. Kanō started the modern rank system in 1883 when he awarded shodan (the lowest dan rank) to two of his senior students (Shiro Saigo and Tomita Tsunejirō). Prior to this, martial arts schools awarded progress with less frequent menkyo licenses or secret scrolls. Originally, there was still no external differentiation (by belts or otherwise) between yūdansha ( what we now call black belt ranks) and mudansha (those who had not yet attained a dan grade). Different athletic departments within the Japanese school system were already using markers of rank, most notably in swimming, where advanced swimmers wore a black ribbon around their waists. In 1907, Kanō invented the modern keikogi (white practice uniforms), and formalized belts in white for mudansha and black for yūdansha to be used with the keikogi Ranks in Japanese Many arts use between one and ten dan ranks: Degree 1st Dan Shodan 2nd Dan Nidan 3rd Dan Sandan 4th Dan Yondan 5th Dan Godan 6th Dan Rokudan 7th Dan Shichidan 8th Dan Hachidan 9th Dan Kudan 10th Dan Jūdan In some martial arts, black belts are worn for all dan grades. In others, the highest grade (10th dan) wears a red colored belt. In Jūdo and Shotokan 6th to 8th dan may wear a red and white-patterned belt and 9th to 10th dan may wear a solid red belt. There is some variation even within styles. Generally, belts do not have markings that indicate the actual dan grade. Okinawan styles used gold bars to denote the various masters titles rather than grades after fifth dan. Thus one gold stripe designated Renshi (錬士), two designated Kyōshi (教士), and three designated Hanshi (範士). In the early 2000s, different Okinawan styles started using the stripes to designate individual dan grades above godan. Others, including may Uechi organizations, have followed suit, while others have not. In many styles shodan implies that the basics of the style have been mastered. At about sandan, the student may start teaching independently but under the supervision of his teacher. The license for this level is shidōin (指導員), literally "man of instruction/coaching", which is often translated as "assistant instructor." At about the grade of godan, the holder may receive a full teaching license: shihan(師範), literally "instructor/model." Traditionally, a holder may open his own school with this license. Many styles also have the separate teaching or "master" grades of renshi, kyoshi, and hanshi. Generally, the lower dan grades represent greater knowledge and understanding of the art along with physical skill. The higher the dan grade, the more leadership ability, teaching experience, and service to the style play a role in promotion. In modern Kendo, the dan system was recently changed so that 8th dan is the highest attainable rank. Unlike Judo, all dan promotion within the All Japan Kendo Federation, International Kendo Federation and its member countries is by examination. Whereas dan grades are awarded for technical ability, there is a parallel shogo system awarding the higher teaching grades of renshi, kyoshi, and hanshi. Renshi and kyoshi are awarded by written examination while hanshi by election. Although the dan system is distinctly Japanese, it has been adopted by many other martial arts styles. The dan system and the well-known symbol of a black belt have been absorbed into common usage to represent a person with above-average or highly trained skills in a particular discipline. Chinese martial arts Since 1998, the Chinese Wushu Association together with the National Sport Commission and the Chinese Wushu Research Institute has established a graduation system based on nine Duan levels. In 2011 the Duan Wei system was changed and a set of style books was issued for duan wei 1-6 exams each level can be examined on preset forms and applications including partner forms the badge has also been changed to include the duan wei number i.e. 1-6. Entry level for experienced pracitioners has now been limited to 3rd Duan and below so as to tighten up the rankings. Symbol: 段位 Duan Wei "level" Beginning Level: So-called basic duans for students with some years of experience. 1. Qingying—yi duan: Bronze/blue Eagle 2. Yinying—er duan: Silver Eagle 3. Jinying—san duan: Gold Eagle Intermediate Level: Middle-level duans are for wushu students/coaches who are able to teach and have between 5 and 10 years wushu coaching experience depending on level applied for. Starting from 5th Duan, there has to be proof of a scientific work in wushu research, i.e. publications, DVD, training of Duanwei examined students. Sixth Duanwei, can use the title of Master as this is the highest technical grade. 4. Qinghu—si duan: Bronze/blue Tiger 5. Yinhu—wu duan: Silver Tiger 6. Jinhu—liu duan: Gold Tiger Advanced Level: Advanced level is only awarded to very experienced masters with excellent reputation in Wushu. The person awarded such a Duan is officially allowed to call himself "Grand Master". 7. Qinglong—qi duan: Bronze/blue Dragon 8. Yinlong—ba duan: Silver Dragon 9. Jinlong—jiu duan: Gold Dragon The term Dan was used on the badges up to 2005 when the term Duan was then used on the badges, however the term Dan was never used on the certificates of grade, the certificates always use the term Duanwei. Korean martial arts Some Korean martial art schools use embroidered bars to denote different danranks, as shown on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd danbelts above Korean martial arts lacked a grading system up until the Japanese annexation and then occupation (1910–1945) during which a variety of Japanese martial arts were introduced into the Korean school system, most notably judo, karate-do and kendo. After the occupation ended, newly emerging martial arts like taekwondo, tang soo do, soo bahk do and hapkido adopted the dan (단, 段) and geup (급, 級) ranks. The dan rank system is also used by baduk players. Nowadays, the Korea Taekkyon Association also issues dan ranks to taekkyeon practitioners. Someone who has received a dan rank is called a yudanja (유단자, 有段者). Someone who has received a "high" dan rank (6th Dan upwards) is called a "kodanja" or alternate spelling "godanja" (고단자, 高段者). In some Korean schools, most notably in Kukkiwon-style Taekwondo, there is also a poom system in place (품, 品; "pum" using standard Romanization). Practitioners who have not yet reached the age of 15 cannot test for a dan rank. For them, there is a system of four poom grades. After they reach the age of 15, their poom-grade can be changed to the corresponding "dan"-grade. They also cannot test for 4th degree black belt before the age of 19, because they must stay in 3rd degree for at least 4 years. Ranks in Korean When numbering the dan ranks, Sino-Korean numbers are used. Common names for the dan ranks are thus: Il dan (일단, 一段): first-degree black belt (also known as cho dan (초단, hanja: 初段)) I dan (이단, 二段): second-degree black belt Sam dan (삼단 三段): third-degree black belt Sa dan (사단, 四段): fourth-degree black belt O dan (오단, 五段): fifth-degree black belt Yuk dan (육단, 六段): sixth-degree black belt Chil dan (칠단, 七段): seventh-degree black belt Pal dan (팔단, 八段): eighth-degree black belt Gu dan (구단, 九段): ninth-degree black belt Sip dan (십단, 十段): tenth-degree black belt For most Korean martial arts, the dan ranks do not go past ninth dan, although on some occasions in some organizations, a tenth dan (십단, 十段) has been issued.