The Grading System
Kenryukan has a system of kyu and dan rankings that facilitate ease in recognition of achievement. This system of ranking is similar to other schools but there are a few discernible variations. A student progresses through ten kyu ratings before being recommended for black belt or dan rating. At each level the student must demonstrate proficiency for that particular level. Each student should keep a record of promotions, tournament participation and other special events for the use in writing a resume when recommended for junior black belt or black belt grade. Yudansha-Mudansha as described below translates as "the trainee with dan ranking and the trainee that does not have dan ranking".
The mudansha (non black belts) are graded in descending order from tenth level (jukyu) to first level (ikkyu). The colors are arranged from light shades to dark. Therefore, the following represent the ranking of the mudansha: tenth and ninth (jukyu and kukyu) white, eighth (hachikyu) yellow, seventh (nanakyu) orange, sixth (rokkyu) blue, fifth and fourth (gokyu and yonkyu) green, third (sankyu) purple, second and first (nikyu and ikkyu) brown.
The solid colored belt indicates an adult rank. The striped belt indicates a junior rank. A single red stripe indicates advanced placement at that rank level. Multiple stripes indicate further advancement at that rank level. An ikkyu whose belt has a broad black stripe at the end with a narrower white stripe through the center is the mark of a shodan ho—one who is recommended for black belt.
Kohai Shodan and Kohai Nidan
Kenryukan has a special grade of junior black belt or Kohai-Shodan that is awarded to those students whose proficiency is of extreme quality but whose age does not satisfy requirements. This student is allowed to wear a brown and black paneled belt. There are two levels of Junior Black Belts. Upon attaining the required age the junior black belt will go through a re-certification process before being awarded the full black belt at age eighteen.
Yudansha/Dan: Black Belt
The yudansha (black belt) are ranked in ascending order from first-degree black belt (shodan) to tenth degree black belt (judan). In Japanese, the word dan can be literally translated as step or grade thus representing yet another level of education and training. All yudansha wear the coveted black belt. Gold stitching indicates the rank Shodan through Sandan. Yondan degree and higher, the stitches are usually red.
As with the mudansha, there are ten levels called dans. When one looks at the concept of rank/grade and title or honorific, we are required to quickly understand that rank and title are two separate entities. Of extreme importance is the understanding that titles are not automatically awarded with rank. All yudansha wear the black belt. Ceremonial belts are just that, ceremonial and are worn only during special occasions. Shodan through godan are based upon technical skill, while rokudan and over are honorary titles based upon age, accomplishments, dedication, writing, longevity, contribution and teaching with the minimum age of a rokudan being 40 years of age.