Ranks in our system are divided into two major categories: kyu (unranked) and dan (ranked). Those holding kyu grades are sometimes referred to as mudansha (no-dan-person) and those holding black belt grades are referred to as yudansha (have-dan-person).
If you have experience in another system of martial arts, please let us know up front. Depending on your grade and the nature of your prior training, we may allow you to wear your existing rank (with the understanding that you will hold no actual commensurate authority or responsibility in the dojo until you have achieved that rank by going through our curriculum). That said, most new students, regardless of their years of experience in other arts, opt to begin anew with a white belt.
Everyone, even your instructors, started at white belt. At this level, you will spend a lot of time learning tandoku undo (moving your body efficiently and correctly), ukemi (falling and rolling safely), musubi renshu (a way of learning to deal with people putting force through your body), atemi waza (striking techniques — the first section of the Junanahon Kihon no Kata [17 technique basic kata]), and tanto (knife) evasion.
After a minimum of 80 hours of training, you may be eligible for promotion to 4th kyu.
At this level, you will see an increase in your ability to move your body efficiently, both solo and with a partner. Your falling and rolling skills will also be improved. At this point, you will begin learning hiji waza (elbow techniques — the second section of the Junanahon Kihon no Kata), weapons, and our system of randori.
After a minimum of 100 hours hours of training, you may be eligible for promotion to 3rd kyu.
At this level, you will see a further increase in all of the abilities developed at the previous ranks. We will also begin teaching you tekubi waza (wrist techniques — the third section of the Junanahon Kihon no Kata) and more weapons.
After a minimum of 120 hours hours of training, you may be eligible for promotion to 2nd kyu.
At this level, in addition to polishing the skills learned earlier, we will begin to teach you uki waza (floating techniques — the forth section of the Junanahon Kihon no Kata), and more weapons.
After a minimum of 140 hours hours of training, you may be eligible for promotion to 1st kyu.
At this level, we begin teaching you owaza juppon (10 Big Techniques — a new kata which emphasizes a different kind of timing from the basic kata). We also continue with weapons and add multiple attacks to randori.
After a minimum of 120 hours hours of training (for a total of 580 hours), you may be eligible for promotion to shodan (1st degree black belt).
It is possible to achieve 1st degree black belt in 2-3 years of regular, dedicated training. Putting on a black belt does not mean you’re an expert, however. In fact, the Japanese word for 1st degree black belt is shodan, which means “beginning level.” At this level, you have a basic competency in our basics and, as our Chief Instructor says, your ukemi should be good enough to safely train anywhere in the world. Black belt holders at 4th dan and above are recognized as teachers and are addressed as “sensei.”
These ranks are for the senior-most members of our group. Wear of the red and white belt is optional, however, and members in these grades may instead choose to wear a black belt. At this time, only one person in Jiyushinkai holds the rank of 8th dan.