History of the Dan System
The systematic use of belt color to denote the rank was first used in Japan by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, who first devised the colored belt system using obi (sash), and awarded the first black belts to denote a Dan rank in the 1880s.
The Dan system has been adopted by most legitimate martial arts and recognized worldwide as the Black Belt ranking standard. Many styles award Shodan (1st Degree) through Judan (10th Degree). A number of styles (such as Bujinkan, created by Masaaki Hatsumi) include additional levels of Judan which for consistency are also referred to as 11th – 15th Degree. These are actually steps within the rank of Judan, as Shodan to Judan are the traditional Dan levels.
Generally, the Dan system has three levels:
- Black Belt: Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan
- Master: Godan, Rokudan, Shichidan, Hachidan, Kyudan, Judan
- Senior Judan: Jushodan, Junidan, Jusandan, Juyondan
- Grandmaster: Jugodan (Reserved for the Founder)
Shodan indicates skill in the basics of the style. At Sandan, the student is deemed capable of teaching, often with the title of Sensei. At Godan, they may receive certification as a Junior Master level practitioner.
Generally, the lower Dan ranks are validated on the basis of knowledge and physical skill. The higher the Dan rank, the more leadership ability, teaching experience and service to the style play a role in promotion.
As the founder and creator of the Venerable Art of Shaolin Kempo Karate, Great Grandmaster Villari (Jugodan) has created his Shaolin Kempo Karate Dan System.
1st Dan – Shodan
2nd Dan – Nidan
3rd Dan – Sandan
4th Dan – Yondan
5th Dan – Godan
6th Dan – Rokudan
7th Dan – Shichidan
8th Dan – Hachidan
9th Dan – Kyudan
10th Dan – Judan
11th Dan – Jushodan
12th Dan – Junidan
13th Dan – Jusandan
14th Dan – Juyondan
15th Dan – Jugodan