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Grades and Ranks FAQs

1.  What is the Traditional Bujutsu system of grading?


There are three basic levels of achievement:

  • Okuiri

  • Mokuroku

  • Menkyo

Finally, there is the honorary title of Menkyo Kaiden, which can be compared to the title of Sumo Yokozuna. It`s an honorary title, not an actual rank. Once the title has been given to an individual it cannot be taken away. The highest rank in sumo is Ozeki. After that you can receive Yokozuna as a 'extra' but it is not an actual rank. Similar is true with the Menkyo Kaiden status of Shindo Muso Ryu.


Traditionally, when a student takes an examination, there is no guarantee they will successfully pass. I have known instructors who have not passed a student because of the careless way they wore their hakama or because they wore a ring on their finger, despite their good technique.


Furthermore, it is possible to take an examination, and be given a lower rank. My instructor always says that he judges students on how they perform on the day of the exam. It does not matter how much they have practiced or how many years they have been studying. What matters is how good you are on the date of the exam.


When a student is stripped of their rank completely and "kicked out" of the Ryu, so to speak, it is called Hamon.


Finally, there are several "middle" ranks added to the traditional system such as,

  • Okuiri-sho (Pre-Okuiri)

  • Sho-Mokuroku (Pre-Mokuroku)

  • Go-Mokuroku (Post-Mokuroku)

One of the reasons these ranks were added were to give a student some acknowledgement of achievement if they did not meet the requirements for a rank. They were intended to give the student time to improve and polish their technique before re-taking the exam for Okuiri or Mokuroku. 


The Shindo Muso Ryu Menkyo rank covers the schools of Jodo, Kenjutsu, Tanjo, and Jutte. Although Isshin Ryu Kusarigama and Ittatsu Ryu Hojo Jutsu are taught within the SMR curriculum, Menkyo rank for both martial arts is separate.



2.  What is the grading system in Shinto Muso Ryu Jo Jutsu?


The grading system today uses both the Kyu/Dan System and the traditional system. 


Certificate Japanese Explanation
** Nyumon-sho 入門書 Certificate of admission to SMR, the individual is an official member
Kyu ranks 1 - 8 級書 Certificate of rank: 8th Kyu - 1st Kyu
1st Dan 初段書 Certificate of 1st Yudansha rank (completed up through Ran-Ai)
** Shoden-sho 昇殿書 Certificate of admission to Inner Sanctum, the individual is accepted as a Denshi (student) to a specific instructor
2nd Dan 二段 Certificate of 2nd Yudansha rank (completed up through Kage)
3rd Dan 三段 Certificate of 3rd Yudansha rank and receive title of Renshi (Completed up through Gohon no Midare)
** Higi-sho 秘儀書 Certificate of admission to Secrets
4th Dan 四段 Certificate of 4th Yudansha rank and receive title of Kyoshi (Completed up through Okuden)
5th Dan 五段  Certificate of 5th Yudansha rank and receive title of Hanshi (Completed all related Koryu)
** Okuiri-sho 奥入書 Certificate of admission to final teachings
Sho-Mokuroku 初目録 Certificate of 1st teaching license
Go-Mokuroku 後目録 Certificate of 2nd teaching license
Menkyo 免許 Full Teaching license, and learned 1st of the five Gokui kata
Menkyo Kaiden 免許皆伝 License of Complete Transmission, Menkyo license stamped upon completion of all Gokui kata

** Note: There are four stages to Menkyo as shown in bold. Each is a deep and deliberate commitment on both the part of the instructor and the student. The instructor will teach all required skills, techniques and knowledge, both oral and written.



3.  Why was the Dan system added? 


The Dan system was implemented in the 1970s to allow foreigners who could only practice Jodo for a short period of one or two years before leaving Japan, or for other short-term members, to progress towards some specific goal and receive some level of achievement.  In the traditional system, members had to be recommended for a grading by their instructor, and takes about five years just to achieve Okuiri.



4. Examples of the standards and criteria required to achieve Kyu ranks include:

  • 6th Kyu requires the knowledge of the 12 Kihon and 12 ZNKR Seitei Jodo Kata.


  • 1st Kyu requires the 12 Kihon, 12 Kendo Renmei Seitei Jodo Kata, 12 Omote Kata (both Uchidachi and Shidachi), and knowledge of the Shinto Muso Ryu Curriculum


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