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Kendo Ranking System

by jim
(Boston, MA)

I would like to know how the rankings go from beginner to Dan and the time frame of each.


Answer: I started from no kyu and kyu started from the 10th kyu. And my dojo in Japan used to give us two grading exams a year until we became 2nd kyu. We had to go to the official 1st kyu grading exam held by the federation we belonged to.

Since I was a child back then, I don’t know if the grading exams up to 2nd kyu were official or unofficial. However, I am sure that the 1st kyu grading exam was official.

I think that I had to wait one year to challenge 1st dan after getting 1st kyu. It may be different now, even in Japan. So please check it with your federation.

Kendo dan ranking system should be regulated by International Kendo Federation (FIK). If a federation you belong to is an affiliate of FIK, it basically follows the regulations and rules FIK. However, it looks like that each federation has its own criteria for kyus and dans.

If your federation does not belong to FIK, your federation cannot issue an official certificate. Some federations have written criteria but most of the time, there are no written criteria. It is all up to the grading panels you get at the day of grading.

Again, this varies from federation to federation so please DO check how it works with your federation.

I am not too sure about the time frame for kyus, but you have to wait for certain years between dans. If I am right, you have to wait for the number that you hold as dan.

If you hold 1st dan, you have to wait for one year before challenging 2nd dan. If you hold 4th dan, you have to wait for four years before challenging 5th dan. I am 5th dan now so I have to wait for 5 years to be eligible for 6th dan grading.

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