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.