One of the first things that springs to mind when people think of martial arts is the belt ranking system. Originating with Judo, and now used almost universally within martial arts organisations from all over the word we have this idea of progressing through colored belts, gradually becoming darker until we reach the Black Belt at the end.
This system is fairly modern, and only came into play during the early 1900's. Before this grades weren't displayed in this way, written licensing systems were in place, as can be found in many other Japanese institutions outside of the martial arts.
These varied depending on the school, and still do to this day. Sometimes certificates were given or scrolls awarded. Different terms were used to describe the various levels, Menkyo, Mokuroko, Shoden, Chuden, etc, and again these varied depending on the school in question. While some were more common than others, to understand the progression you would have to be familiar with the system for that particular Ryu.
Example scrolls & license from the Hontai Yoshin Ryu, Takagi Ryu
Motoha Yoshin Ryu Licensing
Within Motoha Yoshin Ryu we follow one of these traditional licensing systems, as follows;
- Shidoin Menkyo (License to teach, under supervision)
- Shoden no Maki (Entry Gate / First Level Transmission Scroll)
- Chuden no Maki (Middle Gate / Mid Level Transmission Scroll)
- Okuden no Maki (Upper Gate / High Level Transmission Scroll)
- Menkyo Kaiden (License of Full Transmission)
These Transmission Scrolls are very important as signify a higher involvement in the Ryu and also the ability to teach without supervision.
They are only awarded where students have shown both the relevant level of skill and understanding, as well as the integrity to develop a sense of trust from Soke and their direct Sensei. Only Soke can award these licenses.
In addition to this we also operate a Dan grade system, mainly to give relevance in the modern world and following the example of the mainline, however Soke advises that this is secondary to the licensing system, and once achieved that is what should be referred to.
The Dan grades are referred to as follows;
- Shodan / 1st Dan
- Nidan / 2nd Dan
- Sandan / 3rd Dan
- Yondan / 4th Dan
- Godan / 5th Dan
- Rokudan / 6th Dan
- Nanadan / 7th Dan
Nanadan (7th Dan) is the highest dan ranking Soke has awarded within the system, we do not have 10th Dan, or 15th Dan as is the case in some other organisations.
We have no colored belt or kyu grades. Before Shodan (First Step) students simply wear the white belt received with their training uniform.
Please note; Shodan and Shoden are not the same thing. Shodan is the 'first step' within the Dan ranking system, whereas Shoden signifies the first level of transmission within the Ryu (see above section regarding traditional licensing) and is a more senior rank within the traditional licensing system.
We also have no further show of rank other than the black belt worn. For example stripes or tabs on the belt to show different dan rankings are not used, different color striped belts such as black/red or red/white are not used. Everyone from Shodan to Nanadan (7th Dan) will wear the same with humility, Yasumoto Sensei himself wears the same as everyone else.
Country heads may wear a dark blue keiko-gi during Taikai, however this signifies their position as a country head, not their rank. Someone of higher rank may not be the head of their country. Hakama are also not used as a sign of rank (as is seen in some other organisations) but will usually identify the wearer as the Sensei of a Dojo.
Shodan, the first level where black belt is worn is also not seen as the end for us but far more literally the First Step. At this stage students have shown enough dedication to practice and have developed enough skill in the basics to begin training at a higher level.
While Shodan doesn't form part of the traditional licensing system, it is a key milestone within the Ryu, as it is this point where students are officially accepted into the Ryu by Soke. This would be the equivalent of Kirigami* in some traditional licensing systems.
*Kirigami (Cut Paper) is a certificate that rather than rank showed affiliation and a level of training with a particular Ryu. A Samurai looking to become a retainer for example could present Kirigami to show that they had received some martial training.
While we don't operate a colored belt system within our regular training or within Motoha Yoshin Ryu, we do have an informal belt system in place for students practicing our Junior Syllabus.
We generally grade students once per year, with the idea of progressing them to Motoha Yoshin Ryu practice when they are old enough as per our Junior & Teen Page
The order for this is as follows;
- White / Ungraded
- Red / 8th Kyu
- Yellow / 7th Kyu
- Orange / 6th Kyu
- Green / 5th Kyu
- Blue / 4th Kyu
- Purple / 3rd Kyu
- Brown / 2nd Kyu
- Brown/Black / 1st Kyu
As gradings are spread far apart, students may not always go through this system one belt at a time, where they have progressed above their level belts may be skipped to put them at the correct level for their ability at the time of grading.
Class Times & Location
Tuesday 19:00 - 20:30
Friday 18:30 - 20:00
The Old Gym
Crondall, Farnham, Surrey
Please note, we do not accept 'walk in' students.
If you would like to attend practice please make contact first to introduce yourself and discuss your requirements.
Please contact us for more information