Grades - Dan System

September 4, 2018

The grades or "Dan" system does not feature prominently in traditional Kobudo until recent times. By ancient traditions, the student continue learning and practice until deemed sufficiently proficient in aspects of technique, and physiological and psycho-emotional areas. At this stage, a "Menkyo" would be handed down to the student as a testament to his/her accomplishments.

 

Fast forward to modern times, and one could find the Dan system being quite prevalent. Why? In a way, grading or the "Dan" system serves as a measure or yardstick of one's technical progress (including physiological and psycho-emotional areas) in a Koryu. It also, by extension indicates the affiliation to a particular Head Dojo. 

 

What this means that while the Dan system do infer a certain level of proficiency, they aren't all encompassing. It also means ultimately, that one's progress is determined by oneself. Taking a step back and bring in family and societal commitments and one can see that it's meaningless to compare progress with others.

 

Rather than chasing Dan, or being a Seminar junkie, it would instead be more meaningful to practice mindfully and consider the meaning behind the various wazas. Make notes and seek clarifications on waza uncertainties. Build fundamentals through Kihon, connect the dots across the meanings in different wazas; uncover that which lies in plain sight but aren't immediately apparent. 

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