The Shinkyudo Karate Ranks and Titles

Ranks and titles are a natural part of the Martial
Arts; for just that very reason. It is military in
nature and all military organizations use these to
maintain discipline and order. Experience and
longevity are rewarded. The weak drop away and
only the strong fill the upper ranks. Over time, the
style will “bring the cream to the top.” In the British
Army, during the Napoleonic Era, an officer could
literally purchase his next promotion. We do nothing
of the sort. Rather, ALL our promotions are of the
“battlefield” type. That is, your mental, physical and
spiritual levels are tested and your rank (belt) is
awarded accordingly.

The history of the belt ranking system is generally
traced back to Master Funakoshi. He adapted it,
from Judo. It is universally used in virtually all forms
of traditional Martial Arts. Styles have slight
variations but they all start with a white belt and
culminate with a Black Belt. The colors below BB
start with white and gradually get darker until the
mystical level of black is achieved. After that, stripes
are added to the BB to denote additional levels

The style of Shinkyudo Karate is no different. We
also use the colored belt ranking system. We believe
that it is a proven motivator. Students, of any level,
use it to set short-term goals. This “stone-
stepping” also allows the instructor, through the
testing process, to set the pace of progression,
based on the individual students current mental,
physical and spiritual ability.

Karate is not for everyone. People do not get
“passed on” just because they show up. Progress
and dedication must be demonstrated at every level.
We give the student the opportunity to test at
every level and require a promotional board sit for
ranks above blue belt. This is why Karate students
bow to someone of a higher rank, no matter what
style. They know that this person has earned that
rank and respect them for the work that they did to
achieve it.

Our style has adopted a 9 Kyu / 9 Dan belt ranking
system. We feel that more levels would dilute each
level and render the incentive program moot. To
have less than nine levels would not provide
sufficient stepping-stones and lose the advantage of
a short-term goal program. In other words, it
seems to be just the right compromise.

After the colored belts comes Black Belt. We use
nine levels of these, as well. By having an equal
number of levels of BB, we show symmetry. This
comes from the principle of opposites, represented
in the symbol of Yin and Yang. By not having the
mystical level of 10th Dan, we point out that no one
has truly learned everything and must continue to
strive to climb the mountain.

There are titles associated with each rank from
Brown Belt through all BB levels. These titles also
provide the student with a system of respect; based
on age, experience and accomplishment. No title is
more revered; however, than Sensei; that is,

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Following is a breakdown of our ranking system.
9th Kyu – KuKyu – white – awarded when starting
8th Kyu – HachiKyu – yellow
7th Ky – NanaKyu – orange
6th Kyu – RokuKyu – blue
5th Kyu – GoKyu – green
4th Kyu – YonKyu – purple
3rd Kyu – SanKyu – brown (1 stripe)
2nd Kyu – NiKyu – brown (2 stripes)
1st Kyu – IkKyu – brown (3 stripes)

The stripes on the brown belt are white, to remind the student
of their humble beginnings The title of, Sempai, senior student,
may be used. They can also be addressed as Mr., Miss, etc.

1st Dan – Shodan
2nd Dan – Nidan
3rd Dan – Sandan
4th Dan – Yondan
5th Dan – Godan - Shihan
6th Dan – Rokyudan – Shihan / Renshi
7th Dan – NahNahdan – Renshi / Kyoshi
8th Dan – Hachidan – Kyoshi / Hanshi
9th Dan – Kudan – Hanshi

The stripes denoting the rank on the BB will be gold for 1st
through 4th Dan. For 5th and above, they will be red. No
special belts are issued for any BB rank.

The titles associated with the various levels of BB are awarded
separately from the actual rank. These titles may be awarded
at any Yudansha level but are generally done so in the manner
laid out above. The following is a brief explanation of these

Sensei – teacher, one who has gone before. May be awarded
at any BB level.
Shihan – master, teacher of teachers. 5th & 6th Dan
Renshi – master, senior teacher. 5th & 6th Dan
Kyoshi – master, teaching master. 6th & 7th Dan
Hanshi – master, model for all masters. 8th & up
Kaiso – founder. Outside the ranking system.

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