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04-21-2003, 01:27 PM
How do you feel about a 22 year old 3rd dan in aikido?

I am relatively new to the martial arts so I admit that my inexperience may be clouding my opinion, but a 22 yr old 3rd dan just doesn't seem right to me. At 22 does one have enough skill, wisdom, and experience to be 3rd dan? I was hoping that some of the people here with much more experience in the martial arts than I, could share their opinions.


04-21-2003, 02:06 PM
Thatīs when being affiliated with a major organization (Hombu, I.A.F. Iwama, Yoshinkan, Ki Society, etc.) comes in handy. Who graded him/her? How long has been training? In our organization we have 2 fifth dans in their early 30's and they began training in their teens (11 or 12 years old, canīt remember), do the math. So letīs say this particular 3rd dan began training nonstop at age 10 and graded as an adult at age 15-16 (shodan) 2 years later he makes nidan (18)...I say itīs possible as age and skill are not synonimous, but the question remains who recognizes his grade.

04-21-2003, 02:23 PM
Another question you might want to ask yourself is: what does his technique look like? Does it impress you? Ranking may only be recognized by one organization, but technique is technique, no matter who is doing it or how long they have been doing it. Although, the quality of his technique does not necessarily mean he is a good teacher (neither does the number of students he has indicate his skills as a teacher or an aikidoka).

I'm really just trying to say that age in relation to dan ranking isn't the only factor you should look at. (Disclaimer: I'm also not saying that this is what you ARE doing... I'm just rambling, really...)

04-21-2003, 09:09 PM
Well... AT least in Aikido you dont see any 10 year old black belts running around like in tae kwon do. :)

04-21-2003, 10:10 PM
Well... AT least in Aikido you dont see any 10 year old black belts running around like in tae kwon do. :)
haha! Yes, age does matter a tinsy little bit sometimes!

04-22-2003, 03:23 PM
I know of a teacher who started aikido at age 3, and is now ranked 6th Dan (rokudan). He is 38 and is through Kobayashi dojo - affiliated with Aikikai.

04-30-2003, 09:36 PM
I know someone who is 30 something and has his own weapons system and school, he is like a 5 dan or something in aikido, but he deserves it.

05-01-2003, 02:30 AM
In the system I practice you must be 15 to grade for shodan. Then one year must pass before nidan and another two years before sandan. So actually it is possible to be a sandan at age 18. I have met 18 year olds that could easily be sandan with regards to maturity, and I've met 50 years old that wasn't wearthy of a shodan in my opinion. It all comes down to a few simple rules and a judgement of the persons character.

Jeff R.
05-01-2003, 06:11 AM
Anyone can do techniques. (Broad generalizations are standardly illogical, but bear with me.) Anyone can throw a kick and a punch and twist a wrist. The point of the martial arts, though, is to place the kick or punch or twist exactly where it needs to go, when it needs to get there to be the most effective. Once this is accomplished, one should be looking at reaching Shodan. Afterward, technique is supposed to be second nature, only nuances are adapted as skill increases. From Shodan on, one should be delving into the philosophy, the spiritual, the "magic" of the martial art. I opened a school in my early twenties. I was teaching philosophy. Now that I am thirty-two, I look back and realize how much being a Shodan is like being a white-belt all over again, and that one needs LOTS of life wisdom in order to truly move into the dan ranking. There are, of course, special cases where a youth is especially gifted and has an "old spirit" with inherent wisdom (anyone familiar with Stalking Wolf?), but when rank is simply given as a matter of time-in-training, on a schedule, then I think seeing twenty-somethings at high dan ranks may be quite unsettling. If you're over thirty, you can understand. If you're over forty, I probably seem immature, and I apologize, and I would never assume to rank as a peer to an elder in spiritual maturity.

Regardless, I hope you're having fun in class.

05-01-2003, 06:53 AM
If the 22yr old is on par with the other Sandans in the school/style, and worthy of it, then so be it.

There is more to gradings than technique, I feel.



05-02-2003, 03:07 AM
It seems that an important part of the problem here is to decide whether 3. dan is a high grade or a low grade. Some seem to concider it such a high grade that life experience and maturity is a 'must', yet in some dojo's sandan isn't really thought of as much more than an indication of 5-6 years of practice. I guess it all dependes on what background you have with regards to organisation, dojo and sensei.

However where I come from a 3. dan is a pretty big thing (typically 12 years+ on the mat) and I would expect maturity and wisdom to be a prerequisite.

05-02-2003, 10:11 AM
If he's good enough for it, his age shouldn't matter. I guess it all comes down to how long you've been practicing - some older people only train for a few years and only get to green belt or something, so a younger person who trains intensively for longer and reaching dan grades isn't too un-understandable, if you know what I mean.......'~'

Nick P.
05-02-2003, 12:35 PM
Whenever I catch myself thinking "I am X-rank, my Y-technique should be better" or worse "That person's rank might not be fitting to the level of their technique" I remind myself it doesn't matter.

Jesse Lee
05-05-2003, 02:14 PM
I am on the same page with Nick, I remind myself it does not matter. It helps that a few months ago I saw a 17-year-old test for Nidan, and it was one of the most amazing and inspirational displays that any of us had ever seen. The test was administered by our 6th-dan Sensei.

I had the impression that this kid (who started over 10 years ago) had the advantage of not unlearning a lifetime of bad habits, which is how I feel about my own aikido training. So the younger the better, perhaps, and up to a reasonable point o/c. :)

05-28-2003, 09:06 PM
Well according to the Aikikai(Hombu)requirements it is possible to become a Shodan in just under a year assuming you practiced every day and were able to execute the techniques well....

As for me I will be going to Japan tomorrow for almost a year and intend to practice at Hombu. I will do my best and maybe I can become Shodan before I return to England again.

05-28-2003, 09:48 PM
Not sure about 10 years old but twelve no problem. Where I train children can get Shodan (some started Aikido training before 1st grade), of course when they move to adult class they start over but progress quickly.

Seems way too much is being read into a piece of cloth.

Exceptional under 17s can get what is called a student Nidan. I've seen some of the tests - wow! If I could move so well.
Well... AT least in Aikido you dont see any 10 year old black belts running around like in tae kwon do. :)

Peter Goldsbury
05-29-2003, 05:53 AM
The originator of this thread expressed unease with a 22-year-old 3rd dan and I checked the Aikikai's dan regulations.

For ranks awarded by examination, the minumum age limit for 1st dan is 15 and for 4th dan it is 22 (sic). The rules specify a minumum of 1 year's practice from 1st dan to 2nd dan (i.e., minimum 200 days of practice) and 2 years of practice (i.e., minumum 300 days of practice) from 2nd dan to 3rd dan and from 3rd dan to 4th dan.

The age requirement becomes tougher for dan ranks awarded by recommendation. Basically, you cannot be promoted until you have trained for the number of years equal to the numerical value of the next rank (i.e., four years from 3rd dan to 4th dan, five years from 4th dan to 5th dan, six years from 5th dan to 6th dan). But then things become tougher. Promotion to 7th dan requires 12 years of training since 6th dan and 8th dan 15 years of training since 7th dan. There are also some minumun age requirements: 33 for 6th dan, 45 for 7th dan and 60 for 8th dan.

All these conditions are governed by the magic formula 原則として 'gensoku toshite' = 'as a matter of principle'. This really means that exceptions can be made, as thought fit, to make the minimum conditions easier or, as is usually the case, more difficult.

Elsewhere in this forum there is a thread about ranks and one might well ask, what does it matter? I know from experience that irimi nage is just as difficult at 6th dan as it was at 1st dan, but for different reasons.

Finally, I believe the disciples of the Founder who went to live abroad and teach aikido were relatively high ranked and also relatively lacking in "experience". For example, K Chiba was a 5th dan when he arrived in the UK in 1966. He was 26 and took the UK by storm.

Best regards to all,

05-30-2003, 12:22 AM
If he wasn't wearing a belt, would you know he was that good? The first time I met one of the higher ranking dans in our dojo, he didn't even wear a uniform, and claimed to "play with aikido from time to time". However watching him for about 3 sec it was clear that it was a bit more than "from time to time"

05-30-2003, 02:13 AM
Personally I think that any rank is completly worthless if the person doesnot show the basic part of aikido to me: training. Most of the time when we start training any rank issues disapear anyway.