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H. Trinh 07-13-2001 09:46 PM

Definition of "Dan"?
 
This is my first post on this forum. I'm relatively new to the world of Aikido.
I am fortunate to be a part of Karl Geis' school. Great instructors and students.
Anyway, I know "Dan" is a ranking but does it translate to "degree"?
So, a 4th Dan would be a 4th degree?

Thanks.

Greg Jennings 07-13-2001 11:23 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Originally posted by H. Trinh
This is my first post on this forum. I'm relatively new to the world of Aikido.
I am fortunate to be a part of Karl Geis' school. Great instructors and students.
Anyway, I know "Dan" is a ranking but does it translate to "degree"?
So, a 4th Dan would be a 4th degree?

Welcome.

"Dan" means like "rank" or "level". So, I guess it could mean "degree" as in "degree of achievement" rather than a "Bachelors Degree".

Specifically, they are black belt ranks.

My instructor has always translated "shodan" or 1st degree blackbelt as "beginning level". :)

Regards,

Kami 07-14-2001 05:42 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Originally posted by H. Trinh
This is my first post on this forum. I'm relatively new to the world of Aikido.
I am fortunate to be a part of Karl Geis' school. Great instructors and students.
Anyway, I know "Dan" is a ranking but does it translate to "degree"?
So, a 4th Dan would be a 4th degree?
Thanks.

KAMI : The need for a kyu/dan grading criteria emerged in the last century with Kano Jigoro Sensei in the Gendai Budo or Shin Budo systems.
One of the better explanations is this one by Malcom Tiki Shewan, rokkudan and disciple of Nobuyoshi Tamura Shihan :

"The KYU-DAN system is a relatively recent innovation in the disciplines known as Shin-Budo. It dates from the last century and the beginnings of the current century. We owe its popularization to Judo and Kendo. This system of ranking has its origins in the Neo-Confucionist philosophy known as Chu-Hsi.
[ Dan/ Kyu often miss integrity because they are often granted for other reasons than the real technical capacity of the practitioner. Thus they become the source of much dissension and internal fights within the discipline on behalf of ambitious people seeking titles and prestige. The modern disciplines too often attach an excessive importance to ranks. The result is that the main drive is the acquisition of ranks, whatever the means. Often it is the individual himself which chooses to be examined and he who makes the request of the rank he wishes to obtain, due to the tolerance of the examiners with respect to the appreciation of the techniques necessary for accession to the required rank.]
The text above was taken from the writings of Donn F. Draeger, one of the most qualified japanese budo researchers of our times. It exposes, in a explicit manner, the very common situation we find nowadays. Either we agree that this was the "original spirit" of those who created the Dan/Kyu system or we have to admit that it is a component of today's system. In any case, we see that participants are "running for grades", ignoring the deeper objectives of Budo, since if they knew about them, the attaining of grades would hold second place. From the moment such disciplines were open to the public, it became necessary to have a system to acknowledge technical capacity (not necessarily teaching ability ) of pratictioners at all levels. The total absence of real combative situations, in conditions of life and death (Shinken Shobu), allowed the evaluation of an individual in the midst of large groups, a thing impossible to understand in the past and that further developed today's error of equating that with teaching ability. This is all the more so due to the fact that the founders of most modern budo wished to disseminate budo to the masses throughout the world.
The beginning of competition also reinforces the need for a Dan/Kyu system in the expansion of those disciplines and almost all of them adopted competition as a means to rank practitioners. To understand better the reasons for the Dan/Kyu system, it is interesting to think about the rigid prejudices in japanese society. But it is enough to say that, in Japan, people are culturally obsessed with "titles", "rewards", "acknowledgement" and "levels" of an individual in society and so martial arts are understood and structured according to the model of japanese society.
Graduation in Aikido, as in all other disciplines, were decided by the founder, Morihei Ueshiba. O-Sensei, as we know, has evolved spiritually through his life and due to that modifications ocurred in his points of view. It is also clear that in no moment of his life he was preocupied with organizational or material questions.
The grading of his students was therefore given at the moment's inspiration and subject to his sole authority.
O-Sensei himself never received Daito-Ryu's Menkyo Kaiden and he didn't have, strictly speaking, in that period of his life, the habilitation to atribute the ranks of that school (this question isn't completely clear and there are some indications that he possessed that habilitation, even without a Menkyo, that is, the formal right to atribute grades. That would be typical of some situations we find in japanese budo history. ) Anyway, we know that he gave Aikido's Mokuruku to some of his first disciples and the presentation of a copy of his book, "BUDO RENSHU", often symbolized a "teaching certificate".
In 1931, Ueshiba Sensei opened Kobukan Dojo and since that date he had instructors that teached in other places. Those teachers had need of official grades and beginning from that time he began to give dan certificates. But it wasn't until Aikikai's foundation in 1948 that a formal Dan/Kyu system was implanted.
It is obvious that Master Ueshiba considered the 8th Dan as corresponding to the ancient Menkyo Kaiden and as such he bequeathed it to his better disciples, before and after the 2nd Word War. Some of his 9th Dan were given to people he loved or that had asked him.
This is something we must not forget : Due to his spirit of disinterest from material considerations, the question concerning the grades given to his great disciples -- I mean who really received what, when and why -- will never be completely known. But exactly because of that, he gave us, by his attitude, a wonderful teaching as to what should be our attitude concerning grades. The system exists (created by O-Sensei himself); it is adopted by Aikido throughout the World; and it can be of great value, provided that we are able to manifest the attitude of human beings spiritually free and guided by the spirit of Non-Attachment."
I guess this sums it up.
Best

MikeE 07-14-2001 09:57 AM

According to Westbrook and Ratti's "Secrets of the Samurai" the term Dan is synonymous with "step".

Of course like all terminology it is subject to connotation of the user.

Yours In Aiki,

Mike

Nick 07-14-2001 11:33 AM

the kanji for dan literally means "carve steps up the cliff". "Sho" in shodan means "first" (sho also as in "shodo o seizu", control the first movement). So put two and two together and you have for shodan:

"The first step up a cliff".

Cheers,

Nick

H. Trinh 07-14-2001 07:27 PM

WOW! Thanks for the information. I didn't know that it was THAT in-depth. I have a good feeling that I will learn a whole lot here.

Thanks again!

HT

ccain85 02-06-2006 07:51 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
ok, i may sound like an idiot here, but, i understand shodan to be "first degree or step"; but why is it not ichidan. i mean, i have always counted in japanese with ichi, ni, san, etc. we use nidan, sandan, yondan, but where does shodan come from exactly?

Peter Goldsbury 02-06-2006 08:37 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Clint Cain wrote:
ok, i may sound like an idiot here, but, i understand shodan to be "first degree or step"; but why is it not ichidan. i mean, i have always counted in japanese with ichi, ni, san, etc. we use nidan, sandan, yondan, but where does shodan come from exactly?

SHO does not mean 'first'. It means 'beginning' ().

Dajo251 02-06-2006 09:26 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Hung Trinh wrote:
This is my first post on this forum. I'm relatively new to the world of Aikido.
I am fortunate to be a part of Karl Geis' school. Great instructors and students.
Anyway, I know "Dan" is a ranking but does it translate to "degree"?
So, a 4th Dan would be a 4th degree?

Thanks.

Dan. the shortened form of Daniel....ok sorry I couldnt resist

Mark Uttech 02-06-2006 09:40 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
It looks like Dan is a matter of degree.

ccain85 02-06-2006 10:21 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
SHO does not mean 'first'. It means 'beginning' ().

thanks :D

RebeccaM 02-06-2006 11:22 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Nick Porter wrote:
the kanji for dan literally means "carve steps up the cliff". "Sho" in shodan means "first" (sho also as in "shodo o seizu", control the first movement). So put two and two together and you have for shodan:

"The first step up a cliff".

That is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Can I steal that?

PeterR 02-07-2006 12:45 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Aikido-L veterans will know the true meaning of the verb "to Dan".

Peter Goldsbury 02-07-2006 01:00 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Rebecca Montange wrote:
That is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Can I steal that?

Yes. SHO can mean 'first', but only because it means 'beginning' and this is why SHODAN means first dan: because it is the beginning rank. Another reading, a Japanese kun reading, of SHO is 'iu-' and if you double it you get 'uiuishii', which has the meaning of innocent and unsophisticated. Yet another kun reading is 'hatsu-' and some of the compounds with this reading are usually associated with the beginning of the year. Thus you get 'hatsumode' (first shrine visit of the new year) and 'hatsuya' (first bath of the new year).

A consequence of the meaning of SHODAN as beginning rank is that there is an easily understood context for the constant assertion made here in Japan that a shodan does not really mean anything beyond the beginning of serious study of the art.

djyoung 02-07-2006 01:58 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Nobody has mentioned which Kanji it is exactly. I believe it is this one: 段
Is that correct?

Don_Modesto 02-07-2006 11:28 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Yes. SHO can mean 'first', but only because it means 'beginning' ....

Hi, Peter,

Herewith, ANOTHER archived post bearing the mark "PAG".

Peter, when ARE you going to write a book?!

As always, thank you for this.

DCP 02-07-2006 01:05 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Nick Porter wrote:
the kanji for dan literally means "carve steps up the cliff". "Sho" in shodan means "first" (sho also as in "shodo o seizu", control the first movement). So put two and two together and you have for shodan:

"The first step up a cliff".

Cheers,

Nick

I guess this is better than the first step off a cliff. :crazy:

Josh Reyer 02-08-2006 09:48 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

David Young wrote:
Nobody has mentioned which Kanji it is exactly. I believe it is this one: 段
Is that correct?

Yes, it is. Incidently, here's "shodan": 初段

Mark Freeman 02-08-2006 10:10 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Peter Rehse wrote:
Aikido-L veterans will know the true meaning of the verb "to Dan".

Does that mean you can give someone a right "danning"? :D

Mark Freeman 02-08-2006 10:25 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
A consequence of the meaning of SHODAN as beginning rank is that there is an easily understood context for the constant assertion made here in Japan that a shodan does not really mean anything beyond the beginning of serious study of the art.

There can't be many things in life where you have to practice for so long just to get to the bottom of the cliff! :)

Thanks for your posts Peter, and like Rebecca I would also like to use your explanation.

Cheers,
Mark

Josh Reyer 02-08-2006 11:27 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Mark Freeman wrote:
There can't be many things in life where you have to practice for so long just to get to the bottom of the cliff! :)
Cheers,
Mark

Well, compared to the States, at least, it seems like people are expected to fly through the kyuu ranks, here. Perhaps it's because they view it as the "beginning level", it's not given the same weight as it is in the U.S., where "black belt" is synomous with "expert".

To provide some examples:
The Twin Cities Aikido Dojo says on their website:

Quote:

A black belt indicates not an expert, but a senior student.
But then they say:

Quote:

On average, students practicing at least 3 hours per week and applying themselves seriously take about 6 years to achieve the rank of shodan.
Contrast this with my instructor, who seems to believe (and expect) that coming once or twice every week (the dojo is only open Sat-Sun), and testing at the regular 4 month intervals, students should be able to make shodan in less than 2 years.

Or the belt requirements:

5-kyuu, USAF (from TCAC's website)
1. Shomenuchi Ikkyo (omote and ura)
2. Shomenuchi Iriminage
3. Katatetori Shihonage (omote & ura)
4. Ryotetori Tenchinage
5. Tsuki Kotegaeshi
6. Ushiro Tekubitori Kotegaeshi
7. Morotetori Kokyuho

Compared to Hombu Dojo's:
1. Shomenuchi Ikkyo (omote and ura)
2. Katatetori Shihonage (omote and ura)
3. Shomenuchi Iriminage
4. Suwariwaza Ryotetori Kokyuhou

My own dojo's requirements (which apparently are taken from the Aikikai's Ibaraki Dojo):
1. Shomenuchi Ikkyo (omote and ura)
2. Katatetori Ikkyo (omote and ura)
3. Katatetori Shihonage (omote and ura)
4. Suwariwaza Ryotetori Kokyuhou

Shodan tests seem to be universally comprehensive, though:

USAF:
1. Katatori Menuchi-5 techniques
2. Yokemenuchi-5 techniques
3. Morotetori-5 techniques
4. Shomenuchi-5 techniques
5. Ryotetori-5 techniques
6. Koshinage-5 techniques
7. Tantotori
8. Hanmi-Handachi (Ushiro Waza)- 5 techniques
10. Tachitori
11. Jotori
12. Henkawaza
13. Freestyle-4 persons

Hombu:
Unarmed techniques (sitting, sitting vs. standing, standing techniques for strikes, thrusts, all forms of grasping: shoulders, elbows, collar, wrists and hands; all techniques from the rear)

My dojo:
Yokomenuchi ikkyou through gokyou (standing and sitting)
3 hanmi-handachi techniques
3 shihonage techniques
3 kotegaeshi techniques
3 kokyuu-nage techniques
3 iriminage techniques
3 koshinage techniques
3 ushiro techniques
3 kaiten-nage techniques
3-person freestyle
3 tantodori techniques
3 jotori techniques
3 tachidori techniques

I imagine there are a fair number of ikkyuu and nikyuu in the U.S. who are as good as shodans here in Japan.

Mark Freeman 02-08-2006 11:48 AM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
The many paths that lead to the bottom of the cliff may be of different length, but when you get there and look up, no matter which path got you there, it looks increadibly high and steep, eh?

Regards,
Mark

Josh Reyer 02-08-2006 12:22 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Mark Freeman wrote:
The many paths that lead to the bottom of the cliff may be of different length, but when you get there and look up, no matter which path got you there, it looks increadibly high and steep, eh?

Regards,
Mark

Indeed!

ccain85 02-09-2006 10:46 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
i was taught to count in aikido as follows:

ich 1
ni 2
san 3
shi 4
go 5
roku 6
shich 7
hachi 8
ku 9
ju 10

can anyone tell me then why we use nidan, sandan, godan, rokudan, but not shidan(yondan), etc?

akiy 02-09-2006 10:53 PM

Re: Definition of "Dan"?
 
Quote:

Clint Cain wrote:
can anyone tell me then why we use nidan, sandan, godan, rokudan, but not shidan(yondan), etc?

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7826

-- Jun


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