“The journey is more important than the destination”

There are no formal grading examinations or grading fees to pay at the Meikai dojo. Grades are awarded the old way eg; when you have put in the time and effort, shown increased understanding of your art, and demonstrated good character, then you will be awarded your next grade.

Different arts use different numbers of Kyu and Dan grades, but most Japanese arts broadly agree on ten years to third dan.

Meikai martial arts and shiatsu classes follow the Kyu/Dan Grade system (see below).  There are two types of training uniform, one formal, the other not so; these are composed of either a karate ‘gi’ and appropriate coloured belt or the same coloured t-shirts with dark jogging bottoms.  All levels of dan grade wear either a white gi  and black belt or a black t-shirt.  Which uniform one prefers to train in is a matter of choice, although for events such as demo’s all students should have a gi and appropriate belt available.

Top tips! Chasing grades is not conducive to learning – relax, enjoy your training, and they will come to you. Likewise, pride in your new grade is natural but should be kept firmly in hand.

Humility is of the essence.

Top tips: Skills learned at a dojo are perishable. Technique and sensitivity need constant work to maintain, as do strength, stamina and flexibility. They can degrade quickly and are not always easily re-acquired.

After gaining any grade, it is necessary to continue to attend regular sessions; to de-stress, to refresh techniques and learn new ones practicing with seniors, and to pass on valuable insight and expertise to less experienced students.

It is an essential attribute of a ‘Way’, that it adds to our own depth of understanding and personal emotional development to learn to heal both ourselves and others, and to teach.

Remember – these are Life-Arts.  Study has only just begun at 1st dan, and students are expected to have understood this by then.

The Dan grade system works by differentiating students, according to several criteria, into either Kyu (junior) grades, or Dan (senior) grades.

  • 3rd kyu; novice; white belt or shirt
  • 2nd kyu; scholar; green belt or shirt
  • 1st kyu; initiate; brown belt or shirt
  • 1st dan; Degree level; black belt or shirt
  • 2nd dan; Experienced practitioner.
  • 3rd dan; Teaching level.
  • 4th dan; Doctorate.
  • 5th dan; no equivalent
  • 6th dan a Professorship – mastery of the art.
  • 7th – 10th dan have no real Western analog, they are based on a profound level of understanding and on what one has given back to the Arts.
“You hold the belt up, not the other way around”

martial arts maxim


Kyu grades; Students generally spend a minimum of a year at each kyu grade, if they attend regular, twice weekly, classes.

1st dan should be regarded as no more than an affirmation of one’s ability to coordinate the body in the manner required by the art, and to have gleaned an inkling into the real reasons we train.

Further Dan grades generally take about 3 years between each grade at the lower end, but for the higher grades it depends on how much one puts back into the arts.

Dan grade certificates are issued in the form of Practitioner, Advanced Practitioner, or Tutor etc, or as Shodan, Nidan, Sandan,..  as the student prefers.  They are a formal qualification, and may be used for insurance purposes and hall/therapy room hire etc.