THREE STAGES OF ADVANCING

We do not hold 'tests', 'promotions', or 'graduations'. The real testing takes place every day during class, where members are not only watched for how well they learn Karate movements, but also their attitude, motivation, and personal growth. We hold Shinsa quarterly, where those who meet the criteria may advance in rank.

1) SHINSA: Judging; examination; investigation. Your abilities are evaluated and you are certified the appropriate rank.
2) HAPPYO: Announcement; posting the Shinsa results. A time to congratulate those who have advanced in rank. Most obvious signs of the results are listing in the newsletter, nameplate moved up on the nafuda, and the new rank itself, which may now be worn.
3) KAISETSU: Explanation; interpretation; commentary on the Shinsa. An evaluation of one's strong points and weaknesses. This gives the student a gauge as to improvement, and should be viewed as a valuable learning experience.

* Important Note on Video Clips:

Many of the video clips displayed were taken at shinsa where Dan ranks and Ikkyus tested for higher rank. Each candidate goes through dozens of katas, at least 89 two-man ippon defenses, kobudo (Okinawan weaponry), several rounds of kumite (single and multiple-opponent sparring), and tameshiwari (wood breaking). Far from ideal, some kata clips may show hesitations, bobbles, even a bad move or two, all of which were addressed at kaisetsu.

* To the viewer: All candidates shown are tournament champions many times over. You may not see tournament-quality performances on all of these clips; shinsa more becomes a test of stamina and endurance. With this in mind, the video clips still give a fair representation of how each kata is performed.

Kobudo (weapons) videos are on the bottom right side of this page.
Underbelt (Kyu) Ranks:
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10th Kyu - White Belt 十級

10th Kyu - White Belt 十級
Kata: Ten-no-kata 5-count, Taikyoku Sho Dan, Taikyoku Ni Dan, Taikyoku San Dan. Students can earn 1, 2, or 3 black stripes on their white belt as they advance. Chest patch must be worn to test for 9th Kyu.

9th Kyu- Yellow Belt 九級

9th Kyu- Yellow Belt 九級
Kata: Ten-no-kata 4-count, Heian Sho Dan, Heian Ni Dan. Minimum training time: 3 months. Students may also receive a white stripe (9th Kyu-ho) - low version of the rank, or a black stripe (9th kyu-dai) - high version of the rank.

8th Kyu - Orange Belt 八級

8th Kyu - Orange Belt 八級
Kata: Heian San Dan, Heian Yodan. Minimum training time: 3 months. Students may also receive a white or black stripe on this rank.

7th Kyu - Blue Belt 七級

7th Kyu - Blue Belt 七級
Kata: Heian Go Dan. Minimum training time: 3 months. Students may also receive a white or black stripe on this rank.

6th Kyu - Green Belt 六級

6th Kyu - Green Belt 六級
Kata: Bassai Dai. Minimum training time: 6 months. Tournament requirement: should have at least one. Students may also receive a white or black stripe on this rank.

5th Kyu - Purple Belt (1 white stripe) 五級

5th Kyu - Purple Belt (1 white stripe) 五級
Kata: Tekki Sho, Tekki Ni. Minimum training time: 6 months. Tournament requirement: should have at least one. Back patch must now be worn. Students may no longer receive a low or high stripe on their belt, as this full Kyu-rank has a stripe.

4th Kyu - Purple Belt (full color - no stripe) 四級

4th Kyu - Purple Belt (full color - no stripe) 四級
Kata: Bassai Sho, Jutte. Both kata defend against bo attacks. Bo is taught at the next rank. Minimum training time: 6 months. Tournament requirement: should have at least one.

3rd Kyu - Brown Belt (3 white stripes) 三級

3rd Kyu - Brown Belt (3 white stripes) 三級
Kata: Tekki San, Ni-Ju-Shi. Weapons: Demura no Bo, Shushi no Bo. Minimum training time: 6 months. Tournament requirement: must have at least one.

2nd Kyu - Brown Belt (2 white stripes) 二級

2nd Kyu - Brown Belt (2 white stripes) 二級
Kata: Chinte. Weapons: Naihanchi no Sai, Kihon Sai, Kumi-sai (attacks) 1-10. Minimum training time: 9 months. Tournament requirement: must have at least two.

1st Kyu - Brown Belt (1 white stripe) 一級

1st Kyu - Brown Belt (1 white stripe) 一級
Kata: Hangetsu, Jiin. Weapons: Kihon Tonfa, Pinan no Nunchaku, Demura kumi-bo, Kumi-sai (attacks) 11-20. Minimum training time: 12 months. Tournament requirement: must have at least two.

Ikkyu - Brown Belt (full color - no stripe)

Ikkyu - Brown Belt (full color - no stripe)
Not a formal rank. The last stripe is removed at Sensei's judgment. The belt now shows fully Brown, alerting the student to prepare for a Black Belt test at next Shinsa.
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White and Black Stripes on Belts

White stripes and black stripes may be placed on belts. A white stripe lowers the rank (showing closer to the White Belt end of the spectrum), and a black stripe raises the rank (showing closer to the Black Belt end of the spectrum). These stripes cannot be used past 6th Kyu Green Belt, as 5th Kyu and above have stripes assigned to them. From this rank on a student either passes or fails.

Black stripes ("-dai") on a white belt and white stripes ("-ho") on a color belt are used when a student has shown improvement, but does not meet the standards to reach the next full kyu. This serves as a visual reminder to the student and Sensei that they need a little more polish to come up to expectation for full rank.

A black stripe on a color belt ("-dai") may be awarded to a student with exemplary test results, making the student senior in that kyu. Students who do not test very well may also be given a "-dai" rank on the belt they presently hold.

Sho Dan-ho has graduated the kyu ranks and is an apprentice Black Belt, indicated by a white stripe on the end of the belt. This stripe is removed after the apprentice passes a test on Black Belt material for full Sho Dan.

Ni Dan-ho and San Dan-ho are not apprentice ranks; the member is already a full-fledged Black Belt. Higher degrees take many years, with much improvement needed. Ni Dan-ho and San Dan-ho are used if the Black Belt is not quite ready for the next full Dan rank, but no white stripe is placed on the belt. Within a year or so, assuming there are no problems, the member's rank automatically converts to full Ni Dan or San Dan.

"Kyu" (級) and "Dan" (段) Ranks

"Kyu" () indicates 'class', or 'grade'. "Dan" () indicates 'level', or Americanized as 'degree'. The following article appeared in the Autumn 1997 edition of Dō Gakuin News:

The difference between Black Belt (Dan) ranks and underbelt (Kyu) ranks can be related to class grades in school. When a child is in first grade s/he is called a first grader. The child has not yet learned all the curriculum for first grade. On completing first grade the child becomes a second grader, even though s/he has not yet learned second grade material. Being a second grader actually means the child has completed first grade and is now working on second grade material.

Kyu (under Black Belt) ranks in Karate work much the same way. A student begins training and is given White Belt. This means the student is now working within the White Belt curriculum. On successful performance during Shinsa (rank examination), the student is awarded Yellow Belt and may now work within that curriculum.

Sho Dan-ho is the first Black Belt rank (apprentice first degree, or level). This only means the student has graduated Brown Belt and now begins working on Black Belt material. After a minimum of one year's training the Black Belt then tests for Sho Dan (full first degree) on this Black Belt material. Unlike Kyu ranks and Sho Dan-ho, where the student is now first working on material within that rank, a Sho Dan has earned the rank and is a full first degree. To simplify the difference: an underbelt wears the rank they're working on, full Black Belts wear the rank they have achieved.

Ryukyu Bujutsu Kenkyu Doyukai

Ryukyu Bujutsu Kenkyu Doyukai
We are members of Ryukyu Bujutsu Kenkyu Doyukai (RBKD) under Shihan Toshihiro Oshiro, offering Yamanni Ryu Okinawan weapons training in bo, sai, and tunfa. These classes are a separate curriculum from our Shotokan karate with its own rank structure. Sensei Abrams is a certified Yamanni Ryu black belt. Sensei Gottwirt is a card-carrying RBKD member since 1990. This training is separate from our Dō Gakuin kobudo.
www.ny-nj-yamanni-ryu.blogspot.com.


www.ny-nj-rbkd.blogspot.com
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