10th Dan?

SamT

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Most of my experience with the martial arts is in Tang Soo Do, which is a Korean art. Under most Korean arts, the highest obtainable rank is 9th Dan, which I believe is because 10th Dan is viewed as perfect. To us, perfection is unattainable.

However, I've heard of 10th Dans in Japanese martial arts, and if you'll pardon my ignorance, what does it mean when one achieves 10th Dan? Does it mean that that person has perfected their art? Or does it mean something entirely different?

Thanks in advance.
 

arnisador

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It depends on the art! For some it's a unique rank for the grandmaster; for others, no. Ninjutsu and judo have super-ranks above 10th (with caveats--e.g., in judo you have to be dead first).
 

girlbug2

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In Kenpo it is indeed attainable for a grandmaster to achieve 10th degree. It does not mean perfect however. Beyond that I'm not sure what the specific requirements are.
 

dancingalone

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However, I've heard of 10th Dans in Japanese martial arts, and if you'll pardon my ignorance, what does it mean when one achieves 10th Dan?

These days it generally means you're looking at an organization head or an inheritor of a style, assuming this is a truly 'traditional' art. Personally, I don't really even pay attention to the rank of a person anymore, since ranks are so inflated. There there plenty of outstanding sensei out there who are lowly sandans or godans.

Here in the US, it seems like there's a 10th dan who created his own art falling out of every tree you shake. Overranked people are truly a pestilence in the martial arts.
 

pgsmith

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As Arnisador said, it depends upon the art. In order to get a better idea of the dan ranking system, it is necessary to have some information about where it came from. Jigoro Kano, the creator of modern judo, was the first to apply the dan, or step, ranking system to the martial arts. He was a school teacher and saw that the swim teams used this system. He thought it would be a good way of differentiating skill levels in his newly created judo. It proved very popular, and was adopted by the Japanese karate systems when they began to become prominent in Japan in the early 1900's.

Today, the majority of schools use a dan ranking system, usually consisting of ten steps. Ten is an arbitrary number though, and I know of at least one organization that is up to fifteen dan ranks. Many of the old koryu arts use both dan ranks and menkyo certificates, or don't have any dan ranking at all. The problem in any ranking system is that it is only applicable within a given system. There are many umbrella organizations which grant dan ranks. These are meant to maintain consistency across schools, usually for competition as in judo or kendo. Due to the veritable plethora of umbrella organizations within the karate community, it is very difficult to assign a skill level based solely upon dan ranking within a particular art. Since there is no oversight organization for the martial arts (thank goodness!), it is up to individual organizations to set criteria as to what constitutes a proper skill level for any particular rank.

Most people who aren't directly involved in the martial arts, and many who are, don't understand that any rank is irrelevant outside of the organization that granted it. Many older organizations that have well publicized (not to mention difficult) criteria for their rankings are acknowledged amongst themselves. A hachidan (8th dan) in kyudo with the all Japan kyudo federation would be granted the honor due to a hachidan within the all Japan kendo federation, as would a hachidan within the all Japan iaido federation. Organizations such as these are well known and familiar with each other. Meanwhile, if you take a hachidan from the American jujitsu Federation (just to pull a name out of my hat), they'd have no idea what to make of him although, being Japanese, they'd still be polite. :)

Therefore, it is pretty hard to answer your question without knowing the specific art to which you refer.

Hope that helps, and doesn't just confuse things!
 

Grenadier

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There are some ranking systems that are somewhat universally recognized by a large number of Karate-ka, though. If someone is willing to test with the USA-NKF or the WKF, he can obtain a dan ranking by performing the requirements, in front of the panel. Such ranks go from shodan through hachidan.

http://www.usankf.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=30


The USA-NKF even specifically states, that their ranking system is not meant to replace or promote any particular style of Karate, and that you have to hold at least an equivalent ranking in your own system, before being allowed to test for an equivalent ranking with the USA-NKF.

Still, just because someone holds a USA-NKF or WKF Dan certification doesn't mean that every Karate school will (or even should) accept their ranking. It's up to the school, of course.
 

thetruth

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It depends on the art! For some it's a unique rank for the grandmaster; for others, no. Ninjutsu and judo have super-ranks above 10th (with caveats--e.g., in judo you have to be dead first).


I believe that the current grandmaster of a style should be 10th dan. This rank can be taken by their successor when they pass away. If a founder/grandmaster passes away before they name a successor then regardless of what happens I don't believe anyone should ever be able to take that rank. They should show respect for them. All of this ***** about being ranked by ones own organisation/students is deplorable and makes a mockery of the martial arts. It then becomes an ego issue. As for the ranks above 10th dan such is Ninjitsu, well I believe that they would need to have a very tight reign on the way people are ranked as this could cause more issues. I don't want to comment too critically on this as I am unaware of the inner political workings of the Bujinkan.

Cheers
Sam:asian:
 

Senjojutsu

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High Dan Ranks Rant #1:
Long ago and far away the used to teach arithmetic to elementary school students. You use to learn that eight is twice as much as four, and that ten would be 2 1/2 times as much as four (Now they care more about diversity & self-esteem in school). However for the few adults still here, the one major trouble with assigning numeric values to ranking is the inherent quantification involved because of arithmetic. So your styles tenth dan must be superior to this other styles fifth dan. Knowledgeable industry people know this is not true, but damn - those 15th dan ninja must be able to walk through walls, eh?

As noted by Mister Smith, Japanese TMA have used titles/licenses to denote a hierarchy that was not numeric. How many people on this board would know if a Duke title outranks a Baron within European nobility hierarchy. Therefore you get into adjectives that are themselves are quantifiers; master becomes grandmaster, which then becomes great grandmaster.

Also some Japanese koryu headmaster succession protocols deal with other factors. Such as family line inheritance - or other lifestyle criteria outside of just pure performance/merit. BTW, the correct answer on the Duke vs. Baron example is - as a true-blue American I dont believe in European titles of nobility!
:)

High Dan Ranks Rant #2:
When people talk about tenth dan ranks or fifteenth dan ranks, my two immediate thoughts are:
1) What criteria were used and by whom in awarding such high rank?
2) Just as important, what requirements were used in awarding your preceding awarded rank, as in how did you get your 6th dan rank or 13th dan rank?

This year in early May in Kyoto, Japan a ranking examination within the disciplines of Jodo, Iaido and Kendo was done by a major organization. This was a keystone event because there were dozens of 7th dan participants trying for their 8th dan ranking.

The success (pass) rate of the dozens who tested during this Kyoto event was under six percent (6%) in each of the three martial arts. Think about that!

Now as a grizzled MA veteran, somehow, I know perhaps some organizational politics may have been involved in some minor manner within these promotions.

But compared to these self-promoted I founded my own style rankings, well to be polite, just get out of the floor and show me your skill level with techniques, or lead a seminar and show me your teaching abilities.

Also as long as I am in a judging mood, after the seminar lets go to the pub and have a brew or two, see how you interact with others within a social setting. Is the Chosen One 10th dan holder a pompous cheap bastard who stiffs the waitress?

end rant
:soapbox:
 

Grenadier

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So your styles tenth dan must be superior to this other styles fifth dan. Knowledgeable industry people know this is not true, but damn - those 15th dan ninja must be able to walk through walls, eh?


It depends from one style to another, of course.

I doubt that they could walk through walls, but if someone were appointed a 15th Dan by Hatsumi sensei, for example, I would feel quite comfortable in saying that they must be pretty darn good.
 

Hyper_Shadow

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I believe that the current grandmaster of a style should be 10th dan. This rank can be taken by their successor when they pass away.

That's pretty much what a Mankyo Kaiden is. A certificate of total transmission, these are usually given when someones given everything they've got and are ready to pass the ryu on.

Is the Chosen One 10th dan holder a pompous cheap bastard who stiffs the waitress?

Never stiff the waitress, especially if you intend to eat or drink there again. Last thing you want is 'less than amiable' service.:whip1:
 

Pacificshore

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I like to equate 9th dans and above as CEO's of any large organization. It doesn't mean any one of them have prefected their art, it just means that they have met whatever "goals" necessary to obtain that ranking. Sometimes obtaining such ranking can be done through self promotion (and we can often time figure those types of "CEO'S" upon hearing them speak and refer to themselves in the 3rd person ;), or age vs. time in the arts), or by a vote of your peers, etc.

At any rate, many if not all have made some significant contributions into their art, and at some point in time no longer take an active teaching aspect, but dessiminates the information through their executives beneath them. Hope this makes some sense :)
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Most of my experience with the martial arts is in Tang Soo Do, which is a Korean art. Under most Korean arts, the highest obtainable rank is 9th Dan, which I believe is because 10th Dan is viewed as perfect. To us, perfection is unattainable.

However, I've heard of 10th Dans in Japanese martial arts, and if you'll pardon my ignorance, what does it mean when one achieves 10th Dan? Does it mean that that person has perfected their art? Or does it mean something entirely different?

Thanks in advance.
I'm not too familiar with tenth dan rankings in Japanese martial arts, though I don't believe that kendo ranks go above eighth or maybe ninth. With taekwondo, I have a hard time taking most who claim tenth dan seriously. For one, it is supposed to be posthumous. Please note: I don't mean that I can't take their skill seriously; they may be fantastically skilled practitioners, but oddly, nearly every advertisement that I see with a tenth dan master pictures some guy who's younger than I am, and at forty one, I am not that old. Traditionally, both in JMA and KMA, there are age minimums for certain ranks. Ninth dan is generally over forty in KMA.

Daniel
 

Keikai

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Within my own style of ju jutsu there are age restrictions on what grade can be awarded. We grade to 3rd dan via technique and above that you need to be of a certain age and have done something significant to improve your own knowledge and skill as well as contribute to both the art and your school.

Minimum ages start with 30 for 4th dan, 45 for 7th, 60 for 9th and 70 for 10th. You don't have to die to get that one but my teacher was 80 odd and while offered a 10th dan remained a 9th.

While he was a "grand" man and master the thought of the term "grandmaster" makes me cringe at the best of times. What on earth is a "grandmaster"? What does it signify? My own view is one of a person with more ego than substance particuarly when they award themselves and insist on the "title"..
 

Daniel Sullivan

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I view the term 'grand master' the way I view the term 'upper management'; you have authority over or have trained up other, lower ranking masters and possibly own multiple schools.

Daniel
 

nadia

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Grandmaster is a Title.
sure, half the grandmasters today are complete frauds but speaking about their lies on public forumns is not going to change that.

rather demonstarte to people and those masters what a true Martial artist is about.

Our Honour, respect, Skill and Passion.

I have experience in Judo and karate where your goal is to acheiev higher belts and i do admit that this is the wrong aim.

this is why i balance my walking of the way by practising Taji Gong where the only titles are
Junior student
student
senior student
teacher
and then our deceased sifu Kenny Gong, may his wisdom live on...

so yeh, ignore rank, title's and other such labels, just judge people on thier technique and honour code.

some fraud looking masters are actually very skilled and some are not, dont judge until you know.
 

hpulley

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I don't think most students even know the difference between a shodan belt and a godan belt. It doesn't really matter as accomplished martial artists show what they know by demonstrating, not by parading a belt around. Ranks are not to be ignored, IMO, but they are not the most important thing. I've been helped by some excellent kyuu belt senpai and conversely I've found some dan grade senpai to be very poor teachers, even though they are very proficient at their own art.

In the two schools where I have some experience (one is judo/BJJ, other is karate/kobudo/taiji) the ranks up to about yondan (4th black belt) are mostly based upon a person's ability and after that it is more based upon what you have done for the art rather than what it has done for you. Of course even in the kyuu ranks you help your kohai so really everyone is teaching to a degree but of course the dan grade senpai lead the class during the warmups and basics and they train the lower kyuu grades for the kihon. My karate dojo's sensei is a godan (5th) and he is very good but for him to proceed to rokudan he would need to do some original work, write a book, etc. but he is improving all the time and introducing new (to the dojo, old from Asia) techniques and if he can manage to put them into writing/pictures I'm sure he can make that book. The head sensei of the organization which is across Canada plus a dojo or two in the USA is a kudan (9th).

In Judo Canada it is similar and ranks above 4th dan indicate that you are advancing the sport on more than a local level. The higher the dan, the higher the advancement of the sport and they are more honorary than anything. There may be an exam for kodansha but it is more a demonstration of ability than anything else. Most old judokas of such a high rank don't participate in randorii anymore but they can teach very well. Even in kyuu ranks Judo Canada is all about participation points so you must either compete or help out in tournaments, etc. and this only increases with the dan grades. This actually turned me off from it as I wanted a martial art, not a sport but it is what it is.
 

pgsmith

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sure, half the grandmasters today are complete frauds but speaking about their lies on public forumns is not going to change that.
Probably not, but more information is ALWAYS a good thing! :)

If a person is thinking of joining a martial arts class, I'm sure they would Google the instructor. If the instructor is a fraud, and his fraudulent practices are being discussed on the internet, this will show up in that search. If the prospective student decides that that the instructor is talented enough that his lies don't matter, then so be it. However, it can prevent someone from going to said instructor in complete ignorance, and only finding out later that he was a fraud.
I have experience in Judo and karate where your goal is to acheiev higher belts and i do admit that this is the wrong aim.
Not necessarily. It depends upon what you are in it for. It is very much like saying that your aim should not be to win games in the local recreational basketball league. If you are practicing a competitive sport, which many judo and karate dojo are about, then you should compete to win. In order to compete properly, you should advance in rank so your competition is at the same level. Therefore, your goal should be to achieve higher ranking. However, if you are in a traditional MA dojo where competition does not play such a large part, then knowledge and personal improvement should be your goal.
 

Brian S

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Within my own style of ju jutsu there are age restrictions on what grade can be awarded. We grade to 3rd dan via technique and above that you need to be of a certain age and have done something significant to improve your own knowledge and skill as well as contribute to both the art and your school.

Minimum ages start with 30 for 4th dan, 45 for 7th, 60 for 9th and 70 for 10th. You don't have to die to get that one but my teacher was 80 odd and while offered a 10th dan remained a 9th.

While he was a "grand" man and master the thought of the term "grandmaster" makes me cringe at the best of times. What on earth is a "grandmaster"? What does it signify? My own view is one of a person with more ego than substance particuarly when they award themselves and insist on the "title"..

I'd like to echo this quote! The age thing really has gotten lax. 30yr old 8th and 9th dans? I guess it comes from 5yr old shodans!!??
 

yorkshirelad

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I'd like to echo this quote! The age thing really has gotten lax. 30yr old 8th and 9th dans? I guess it comes from 5yr old shodans!!??
In Japanese Koryu arts some of the practitioners were awarded a Menkyo Kaidan certificates in their teens. Examples of this include, Takamatsu sensei (13 years old) and Tanemura Sensei of the Genbukan (15 years old). If tenth dan is reserved for the Soke, then Menkyo Kaidan would be approximately equivelant eighth or ninth Dan. The restriction on age for most koryu is a relatively recent phenomenon.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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In Japanese Koryu arts some of the practitioners were awarded a Menkyo Kaidan certificates in their teens. Examples of this include, Takamatsu sensei (13 years old) and Tanemura Sensei of the Genbukan (15 years old).

Menkyo/kaiden is a pre-organization practice.

Most organizations will consider you a master at fourth or fifth anyway. In some organizations, you can reach fourth dan by the age of fifteen. It really depends on the org, but there is no dan equivalent to a menkyo/kaiden.

If tenth dan is reserved for the Soke, then Menkyo Kaidan would be approximately equivelant eighth or ninth Dan. The restriction on age for most koryu is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Of course the age/dan is recent. The whole kyu/dan system in the martial arts is recent, less than a hundred years. Also, when Koryo arts were founded, you didn't have millions of practitioners worldwide looking to get involved. Dealing with a worldwide membership count wasn't an issue at the time; the school was based in one location with maybe a few senior students teaching in the same region.

Tenth dan doesn't automatically make you a soke equvallent. Some systems go up to 15. There is only one soke at a time, whereas tenth dan is usually conferred to you by an organization or you have gone out and started your own org and promoted yourself to 9th or 10th dan.

Modern orgs that use the kyu/dan system exercise complete control over the nature and practice of the art. You don't inherit sokeship at any dan. The 'soke' in a modern MA is a board of directors or the head of whatever organization regulates the art.

Daniel
 
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