Grading at Ikari Dōjō

The Ikari Dōjō grading structure is based on Bujinkan guidelines. The Bujinkan has 25 grades, which are roughly in line with other martial arts like Jūdō, Karate or Aikidō. Bujinkan grades are organised into two main levels, Kyū (級) [junior grade] and Dan (段) [senior grade].

For adults, Kyū level is broken up into 10 grades, from Mukyū (無級) [White belt] to Ikkyū (九級) [Green belt]. All adult Kyū grades are represented by green belt, with the option for women to wear a red belt instead. All adults also have the option to wear kaku obi instead. Students are free to choose any colour kaku obi with the exception of purple, gold and black. Under 18s Kyū grade belt colours are represented by yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green and brown. Both adult and under 18s can expect to grade every 3 months (every season).

Once a student reaches 1st Kyū, they begin to prepare for Dan grading. This can take time and is dependent on the student. In Ikari Dōjō, only students 18 and above can attain a Dan ranking. 

After Kyū level, a student reaches Shodan (初段) [1st degree black belt] and training is addressed on an individual basis.

Students are not restricted from taking a pilgrimage to Japan to train at Honbu Dōjō before reaching Shodan, however students need to remember that they represent Ikari Dōjō and need preparation so as to not dishonour the Dōjō.

Ikari Dōjō students are not allowed to accept gradings from other Bujinkan instructors and must respectfully decline any offer, citing this rule. 

Students joining the Ikari Dōjō with existing Bujinkan rank will require a formal letter to state their intention to join Ikari Dōjō and the reason why they left their previous instructor or why they wish to train at a different dōjō.

Students joining Ikari Dōjō with gradings in other martial arts will be looked at in a case by case basis. Previous experience in military, law enforcement, security or sports will be taken into account when considering grading speed.  

Bujinkan Grading Structure

The Bujinkan has nine kyū grades below the rank of black belt, starting with Mukyu (no grade/white belt) and then from Kukyu (9th kyu) to Ikkyu (1st kyu). Kyū ranks usually wear green or red belts: green for men and red for women, although there is some variety among teachers and dōjō (Female members of Ikari Dōjō may choose green or red). There were originally 10 dan grades, as with many other martial arts using the kyū/dan ranking system, but this was changed by sōke Masaaki Hatsumi to 15 dan grades of black belt. The grades are divided into three groupings; 1st-5th dan Ten (heaven), 6th-10th dan Chi (earth), 11th-15th dan Jin (man). The last five are further divided into the five elements; Chi (earth), Sui (water), Ka (fire), Fū (wind) and Kū (void).
Since there are generally only two belt colors, the practitioner’s rank is displayed by the color of the art’s emblem, called wappen (ワッペン, from the German Wappen), which has the kanji “bu”(武) and “jin” (神) on it. There are four kinds of wappen (9th to 1st kyū, 1st to 4th dan, 5th to 9th dan, and 10th to 15th dan) sometimes augmented with up to four silver or gold stars (called hoshi) above or around the emblem, representing the individual ranks.

At 5th dan (godan), practitioners submit to a test before the sōke to establish that they are able to sense the presence of danger and evade it, considered to be a fundamental survival skill. This is called the sakki. A practitioner ranked as godan or above has the option of becoming a licenced teacher (shidōshi). Ashidōshi is entitled to open his own dōjō, and hand out ranks up to 4th dan at the premises he wishes. A practitioner ranked as 1st to 4th dan may become a licenced “assistant teacher” (shidōshi-ho), if backed by and acting under the supervision of a shidōshi 5th to 9th dan or a person who has been given 10th dan(jūdan). In the Bujinkan a 10th to 15th dan is often referred to as a shihan.

In addition to the kyū/dan ranking system, a few select senior master practitioners have earned older menkyo kaiden certificates of mastery in individual school lineages. These menkyo kaiden certificates establish that the master practitioner has learned all that there is to learn about the particular lineage. Whereas the kyū/dan ranks are often made public, those select practitioners who have earned menkyo kaiden rarely divulge their status.

10th Kyū – Mukyū (無級)
9th Kyū – Kukyū 
8th Kyū – Hachikyū (八級)
7th Kyū – Nanakyū (七級)
6th Kyū – Rokkyū (六級)
5th Kyū – Gokyū (五級)
4th Kyū – Yonkyū (四級)
3rd Kyū – Sankyū (三)
2nd Kyū – Nikyū (二)
1st Kyū – Ikkyū (一級)
1st Dan – Shodan (初段)
2nd Dan – Nidan (二)
3rd Dan – Sandan (三段)
4th Dan – Yondan (四段)
5th Dan – Godan (五段)
6th Dan – Rokudan (六段)
7th Dan – Nanadan (七段)
8th Dan – Hachidan (八段)
9th Dan – Kyūdan (九段)
10th Dan – Jūdan (十段)
11th Dan – Jūshodan (十初段)
12th Dan – Jūnidan (十二段)
13th Dan – Jūusandan (十三段)
14th Dan – Jūyondan (十四段)
15th Dan – Jūgodan (十五段)

Shidoshi-Ho (
Shidoshi (
Shihan (
Soke (