6.1 Grading overview

A grading is awarded to recognise:

  • a kendoist’s reaching a certain level of skill
  • the potential the kendoist shows for the future
  • the level of skill displayed by correctly performing the techniques and exercises asked for by the grading panel

Ranking system

The ranks/grades of a kendoist start from 8th Kyu grade ( in New Zealand ) and end with 8 Dan ( degree ) black belt. The kyu grades ( with 8 being the lowest and 1 the highest ) indicate a “beginner” and depending on how well the kendoist studies and practices their Kendo, it will take from 1-2 years to get 1st Kyu.

The Shodan ( 1st degree ) is usually known as “black belt” ( although no belts are worn in Kendo) and indicates the kendoist is a serious practitioner. There are fixed rules determining how many years must pass between the awarding of dan grades.

A kendoist is recognised internationally as a “teacher” when they reach the level of 6th dan.

Format of grading

A grading session is controlled by a panel of experienced kendoists. The grades of each member of the panel and the number of kendoists on the panel is usually determined by the grades which people are trying to attain. For example, a panel of three ni dans or higher may award kyu grades, but to award a shodan requires a panel of five judges of sandan or higher.

Results are announced after all kendoists have completed the techniques and assignments required by the panel ( it is acceptable for the grading panel to confer privately before deciding on final grades).

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