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Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture
Shotokan 11th Dan

Hi all

Due to living longer there might be plans to create 11th Dan. What's your view about it? My opinion below. Reaching age of seventy you really care or be bother wearing 10th or 11th Dan? Spending most of your life training being respected and awarded highest grade you should care less about belts.

More I train and mature less interest I have in belts, certificates and awards. I enjoy training , teaching and travelling that comes with being respected and recognised as a valued member of martial art tribe.

Kind regards



JuhaK's picture

There are people who have been 1st kyu 10 years and someone who have gained 1st dan in 6 months. Therefore I really don't care what kind of belt others have. To me belts are just a set of personal goals which helps me staying motivated and keeps me training. That is how human mind works, it is easier to stay motivated if there is always a new achievement to receive. I wouldn't mind if some club has 30th dan or something in their syllabus. Just have to keep in mind that their 30th dan isn't any better than 5th dan in some other club.

Tau's picture

It is a fair point. If life expectancy increases then maybe this should be considered. I think it's generally agreed that reaching 10th dan should take about sixty years. I was fortunate enough to train in Iaido with Fuji Sensei in Inverness. He was 75 years old and had been training for seventy years. Sadly he's no longer with us but I could well have seen him training for another ten or more years. So why shouldn't there be an 11th dan?

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture


I have no problem with amount of dans, I know few organisations that give 11th dan and 12th. In Ninjitsu you have 15. But I don't see why 10 years make a difference? Really 70 year old is obsessed with grades? 

Kind regards


PASmith's picture

Reminds me of that bit in Spinal Tap....

"These dans go up to 11"

"Why not just make 10th dan louder?"

".....these dans go up to 11..."

I can see some merit to it but I'd hate to see it go the way of Ninjutsu...where (IIRC) Hatsumi added extra dans because the quality control was so bad people were getting to 10th dan quickly and easily so the Bujinkan was getting full up at the "top".

Part of me also likes the simplicity of  the menkyo kaiden system. A simple binary student/instructor recognition.  

Anf's picture

As life expectancy increases, does our physical ability also increase?

As an aside, the only 11th dan I'm aware of is Master Ken. He's great, but he is just a comedy character.

Tau's picture

Anf wrote:
the only 11th dan I'm aware of is Master Ken. He's great, but he is just a comedy character.


Don't you realise Ameri-Do-Te is the world's most effective martial art? Your Karate is bullshit!

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

There is guy in Poland (correction he is 10th Dan). During communism time he achieved 7th kyu in Shotokan and got enlightment creating his own system. Claiming he is next reincarnation of Daruma. There is a Hi Jutsu teacher who have been awarded 11th after his death also in Poland.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

While the dan grading system originally had no upper level, Judo capped it at 10th dan and most other systems do the same.

An 11th dan based on greater life-expectancy strikes me as ridiculous. I see no pressing need to mark the distinction between the very small number of 70-year olds plus who achieve 10th dan and those marginally older. It’s a bad “solution” to a non-existent problem.

All the best,


tubbydrawers's picture

I know this might be off subject a tad, but there is no way i am getting a 11th Dan! I can't even get to grade to 4th dan with my current association due to me being outspoken with regards to the way they do Bunkai / self protection methods!

So yeah, I agree with Iain thats its ridculous.