How do Iaido/Iai Gradings work?

Discussion in 'Koryu Bujutsu' started by gman7410, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. gman7410

    gman7410 Valued Member

    Sorry if this is an inept question. But does Iaido use the 10 Kyu - 10 Dan grading system that Judo, Karate and Jujutsu use?

  2. Bronze Statue

    Bronze Statue Valued Member

    Every ryu, if not every group, could likely be different. Some do not use any ranking at all.

    If the group operates under the auspices of the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei, then they'll be likely using kyu-dan ranking, from kyu ranks through 8th dan.
  3. gman7410

    gman7410 Valued Member

    Thanks. Do the ones that use that system usually start at 10th Kyu or lower?
  4. Bronze Statue

    Bronze Statue Valued Member

    Not to my knowledge.

    Most groups I've seen test from 3rd kyu through 1st kyu, and then the dan ranks. Sometimes in some dojos you'll see kyu ranks as low as 6th kyu, but AFAIK those are in practice only awarded to children.

    Maybe this link will be of more help?
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  5. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    In the British Kendo Association, gradings below ikkyu (from rokkyu) are done at club level. However, many clubs do not do this. My own club does not bother with kyu grades and all I do is run mock gradings when I think a student is ready for ikkyu.

    Ikkyu and above are done by national panel. Depending upon country and the number of kodansha they can field, gradings can be done up to 8th dan which is the last of the dan grades in the ZNKR.

    In the UK we can grade up to 5th dan as we are fortunate enough to have a plethora of 7th dans. At Euopean events where all the Euro 7th dans come together with a number (often 4) of 8th dans from Japan, it is possible to grade up to 7th dan. 8th dan needs to be done in Japan.

    All of the above is specific to countries mentioned. In the UK, we try to emulate the ZNKR's grading model.
  6. gman7410

    gman7410 Valued Member

    OK so in the UK dojo gradings are done from 6th Kyu to 2nd Kyu then 1st Kyu to 8th Dan are National. That's basically what I wanted to know.
  7. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Not quite. SOME clubs in the BKA grade from 6k to 2k. Not all.

    1k is the first official grading.
  8. gman7410

    gman7410 Valued Member

    This is a rather radical difference. Some have Kyu grades and others have only one. You get some variation is Karate, Judo etc but its much more subtle, like some clubs start at 10th Kyu and others at 9th.

    Are the grading levels for 6th - 2nd really "small" as presumably people that just go straight for the 1st Kyu grade will need to know that others have learned at 6th-2nd Kyus as well?
  9. Kogusoku

    Kogusoku 髭また伸びた! Supporter

    Koryu iai in Japan without seitei; What's a kyu grade? :evil:
  10. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Haha yes Steve, but OP is UK based and UK is predominantly ZNKR iai.


    To take 1k a practitioner needs to know all 12 of the seiteigata to what I would call a 'beginner level'. There is no curriculum for gradings below that, unlike a lot of arts.
  11. gman7410

    gman7410 Valued Member

    Ahh ok. So all some dojos do its split the same curriculum down into smaller chunks then as opposed to making a novice learn all 12 in one go.

    Is the curriculum much smaller in Iai compared to Karate, Jujutsu, Judo then? As it generally takes 5-10 years to grade to Shodan in these. If there is only a single student grade then presumably Shodan is reached relatively quickly and is considered a fairly "junior" grade in Iaido?
  12. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...


    As Steve says, there is a lot of koryu that have nothing to do with ZNKR seiteigata. However, ALL iai schools in the BKA that study seitei iaido ALSO do a koryu (usually either Muso Shinden-ryu or Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu).

    Now, to answer:

    Seitei iaido is simply 12 kata. Add to that the 60ish koryu waza and you have a lifetime study. Some people make the study of seitei iai their single purpose in life - and I strongly disagree with this. Seitei has a very important place in iai but koryu iai is where the magic is, IMHO. To practice both is the ideal as far as I am concerned. Others would disagree, but that should be for a separate thread, really.

    No, a novice learns all 12 kata from day one. When they first start, they may have a go at two or three kata in a lesson, or just a single kata. Some days they will run through all 12. Depends upon level of beginner-ness.

    Ikkyu is usually attempted at the 18-month stage. Shodan is a beginner grade, yes. Yondan is the first of the serious grades and rokudan is the first of the senior grades. This is very obvious from the failure rate at yondan and rokudan. Serious dropoff from previous grades. Quite often you will see 100% pass rates at early grades but never at upper grades.
  13. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Grrr double post.

    Whereabouts are you in the UK, GMAN?
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2010
  14. gman7410

    gman7410 Valued Member

    So when would Shodan be attempted 2-3 years?

    This probably explains why I have seen countless people online with 4,5,6,7 dan grades (which are rare in other arts) and kids with dans in Iai. As Nidan and Sandan in other arts are considered senior instructors whereas 4-5th dan are in Iai.

    South suffolk
  15. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Shodan is attempted around the 2 yr mark. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later, depending upon the person. Rarely before 18 months though. All depends when they pass ikkyu (three month mandatory gap between 1k and 1d).

    While 4dan and 5dan are the first of the more senior grades, 95% of teaching at national seminars is done by 6dan and 7dan practitioners.

    I would SERIOUSLY recommend a chap near you in West Wickham named Martin Clark (6dan). One of my fave teachers.
  16. gman7410

    gman7410 Valued Member

    LOL I've already emailed him!
  17. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Good stuff. Let us know how you get on, and say hi to him from Scott in the Midlands.
  18. gman7410

    gman7410 Valued Member

    Yea I may head over there and check him (and Iaido) out as his dojo is 13 miles from my house a live in clare, suffolk.

    So you do Iaido then? How long for? What grade?

    I do already have a Shinken. It's a bit better than a wallhanger but probably laughable by a MA's standards. Its fairly well constructed but even I can tell the balance sucks.
  19. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Done iai formally for about 11 or so years. Yondan.

    A decent shinken is a delight to use and the balance is god-like. Iaito (zinc-alloy blunt blades) are a decent copy but once you've used shinken it is difficult to go back to iaito.

    Very few beginners use shinken here in the UK. They are reserved for those, er, who are daft enough to use them (myself included).
  20. gman7410

    gman7410 Valued Member

    Yea, i'm guessing Yondan is informally the minimum grade for practising with shinken isn't it?

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