View Full Version : Dan grade age

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Jim ashby
02-07-2003, 03:43 AM
There is an observation I have made in our Dojo/Association. That is, that the average age of the Dan grades is over 40. There are some notable exceptions but the 40 year average age stands. I'd be very interested to know if the average ages in other associations are this high and what you think the reasons for it are.
My own theory (and that's all it is, a theory) is that Aikido is a MA that one comes to after exposure to other MA's.
I would really appreciate any input.
Have fun

02-07-2003, 03:58 AM
I think our association would have a much lower avaerage age for dan grades. its probably closer to 30 for us

02-07-2003, 04:51 AM
Same here. Most of the shodans are probably around that age bracket, or even younger. The nidans are a bit older but the sandans and yodans are in their 40s and 50s.

02-07-2003, 05:26 AM
I know of a bunch of sandans and yondans in their 30's, and even a godan who hasn't yet turned 40. Seems like most of the shodans I know are late 20's early 30's.

02-07-2003, 01:16 PM
My ten year old has buddies his age who are dan grades in 'Take-the-dough'-type organization. One of his buddies had a dad who was saving up the $1,500.00 for his shodan test now that he has been going to class two hours a week for a year. And they think I nuts being happy at making yonkyu in 11 months.

02-07-2003, 01:44 PM
Most people I know take about 7 years to get to shodan, and then another couple to nidan, and then four to sandan, etc. Lots of folks start young, and I met a really nice girl at summer camp last year who was just 18 and a shodan; seems she started when she was 11 years old. Might be hard to progress (rank wise, not necessarily quality wise) as fast when you are older, particularly into the 40's. Don't know anybody in aikido who has received rank because of donating money (we all have to give money to Hombu dojo for our dan ranks if we are aikikai, but other than that...). I think rank is really arbitrary and doesn't necessarily reflect ability (although certainly it does sometimes, but not always).

just my $.02

but that was off topic.

02-07-2003, 01:44 PM
OK, this is for us in the UK, including myself, as I am moving back there soon:


6th Dan - 50's

5th Dan - N/A in UK

4th Dan - 40's

3rd Dan - 30's

2nd Dan - 30's

1st Dan - 20's

I hope that's of interest.

02-07-2003, 02:02 PM
Here are my theories:

I really think Aikido is a martial art for the socially/emotionally mature. Kids tend to like the high-flying, butt-kicking Martial Arts because of the flair and damage potential. Kids don't need an explanation of why a punch to the face or blocks are effective. Kids also tend to have trouble with the philosophy behind the art of Aikido.

Also, (still dealing with the maturity aspect of Aikido practitioners) I think aikidoka are more self-monitoring. Kids want the next higher rank RIGHT NOW. Mature people want better skills. Because of this, aikido practitioners may not "test" for the next rank as soon as they have the time in for promotion. Instead they train and train, then train a bit more and finally test when they feel they have the skills deserving of that rank.

Another thing is that people usually have to actively look around to find Aikido dojos and be willing to travel in order to train. Adults have cars and will travel. Kids may want to do a martial art and tell mom, "There's a TKD/Karate school right downtown." You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a TaeKwonDo school. Small towns normally have at least one TKD joint and big towns have multiple.

These are my theories why Aikido yudansha are older than other arts (based on my observations in this small part of the world)

02-07-2003, 02:23 PM
Mr. Pierson,

I think that you might have hit the nail on the head, at least for a good portion of the aikido population. Good point.


02-07-2003, 03:01 PM
Seven years to shodan? I almost feel bad I got mine after 3 short years (almost). I think itīs difficult to pinpoint an average age for yudansha ranks without a proper methodology. But the perception that we (yudansha) are older than the average martial arts students may prove to be correct.

02-07-2003, 03:06 PM
It took me 7 years to sandan, and I am still a sandan 7 years later.

(I did switch affiliations in 1999, though)

I will be 31 in March.

I think that a lot of people that are in "fighting arts" eventually make their way to Aikido, so that's why you see the age differences. Some people start with Aikido, some come to it eventually.


02-07-2003, 03:06 PM
well, it took me thirteen years to get mine, but that is because I switched styles, I lost all rank and started over again from scratch (at least rankwise). This comment about average time is from what I have observed. I imagine it is different from organization to organization. Three years isn't that unusual in some groups, and if you train a whole boat load, then it isn't at all unexpected.

aubrey bannah
02-07-2003, 06:45 PM
My teacher is in his late 30's & 6th dan.

Two of my children received their JNR Shodan aged 14 each after 7 yrs training. Looking back at the kid's training, its hard to see where it could have been advanced. The JNR Shodan also promotes them to normal 1st kyu. The oldest student to obtain 1st dan was over 60. People have joined our club that are brown belts with seven yrs training, they were rock solid in some technique's but still did not know why the different Aikido technique's works. There is something to be said for grading to be part of the training syllabus. Myself, I found a different understanding with various technique's after gradings and am begining to think this is what Sensi wants.

02-07-2003, 08:10 PM
My current sensei is a 35 Sandan (around 20 years in Aikido).

Hope it helps.

Plus KI!

02-08-2003, 01:15 AM
Being a "soft" art, aikido is something that takes more time than "hard" styles to learn. We don't just work with movement but connection and energy as well and I believe that it takes more time to be able to even understand what is really going on. Even though we pay our dues by advancing slower early on it pays of in the end. Those are some of the reasons why I believe that Aikido dans tend to be older than other styles. I have heard of people getting their shodan in less than a year in aikido but I am curious as to how much they really understand.


02-08-2003, 08:29 AM
If I'm not mistaken, there's a minimum age for shodan and yodan under the Aikikai. I think it's 15 for shodan and 22 for yodan.

02-08-2003, 08:38 AM
The shodan is not proof of mastery (altough basic technical knowledge should be expected), itīs a proof of commitment, real learning and understanding begins at this stage, thus shodan is just the starting point.

Jim ashby
02-08-2003, 12:59 PM
Thanks for all the feedback. Just for the record I'm 42 and I've been training for about 12 years and I attained Nidan in 2000. Please keep the info coming!!

Have fun.

02-08-2003, 01:17 PM
something else to consider: aikido doesn't have any visible indication of rank, except for the hakama and maybe the colored belts used in some dojos. Other than that, once you become yudansha, the only indication of rank (if it matters to the observer) is the skill displayed by the aikidoka when practicing. This and the lack of competition probably contributes to aikido's lack of appeal among teens. I guess it takes a certain level of maturity to practice something with no chance of getting trophies and medals for it.

02-10-2003, 03:46 AM
My roomate is 23, currently 2nd dan as of a few months ago. He got 1st dan at 18 I believe.

02-10-2003, 06:18 AM
Nice reading...

Yudansha Ranking (http://www.aikidofaq.com/practice/yudansha_ranking.html)

Plus KI!

Avery Jenkins
02-10-2003, 06:21 AM
I started training when I was 32, and am now 45 and 2nd kyu (took a break for a few years for that whole starting-a-family-and-new-profession thing).

At the pace I'm going, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be pulling a Leonard.


E. Winters
02-17-2003, 02:50 AM
I earned my 4th dan when I was 29. I think in general aikido yudansha are older because the philosophy is very advanced and most younger people cannot grasp the concept of fighting and not hurting another. I suppose throwing someone in a kokunage is not as gratifing as kicking somebody up-side da head.

Have fun training!

02-17-2003, 06:33 AM
Hi Eric,

quick question on your rank; how many years did you take to reach 4th dan? Did you start training when you were a teenager? Typically it seems to me that it takes about 20 years to get to 4th dan.



E. Winters
02-17-2003, 11:52 AM
Hi Rachel,

I got my 4th dan in 10.5 years. I trained like a crazy and was uchi deshi for 1.5 years. I started at 19 and got my 1st dan in 2.5 years ( I was uchi deshi for six months before I earned my black belt and for another year after). A year after my 1st dan and at the end of my uchi deshi training I earned my 2nd dan. 3 years later I earned my 3rd dan and 4 years after I earned my 4th dan (I have been training for 12.5 years).

best wishes,


02-17-2003, 12:12 PM
Thanks Eric,

That is amazingly quick, but it sounds like you worked your tail off on it! Thanks for sharing. I am always curious about how long it takes folks. I started training 20 years ago and it took about12 years to get my shodan (but then I started over again in a different style 10 years ago), and its been another 7 and I am hoping to test for my 3rd dan sometime this year. I tend to be a bit behind the curve though, as most folks I know who have been training as long as I are 4th dans, and most who are 3rd have been training around 15 years. (oh, I did a two-year stint as kenshusei too)

Anyone else?

02-20-2003, 04:58 AM
Depends on how you look upon it. I took up aikido in 1993 or 1994 (can't remember - turbulent days). Had a break from 1995 to 1999 and got back into the game, so by now it's probably 4 or 5 years and counting.... :D Since I've finally gotten started on the whole grading-thing i MIGHT get my shodan in 2005 - that'll be 7 years of training. On the other hand - if my wife talks me into yet another child, then it'll probably be closer to 2008 or 2009... I'll let you know when it happens ;)