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#197157 - 09/06/06 04:52 PM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: Ed_Morris]
Dereck Offline

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10416
Loc: Great White North
Thanks Ed ... not that post, the previous longer one. Smart ass.

#197158 - 09/06/06 11:59 PM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: Ed_Morris]
ITFunity Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/15/06
Posts: 2053
Thanks for the link. However, niether your post, the link or anyone else's post has explained the reasoning behind why 10th degree is the terminal rank in the WTF/KTA or Kukkiwon.

Sorry for being so persistent, but I am truly trying to find out if there is a stated/documented reason why 10th degree is the highest.

If I have been remiss, or have just missed where it was posted, kindly redirect me to it.

#197159 - 09/07/06 12:29 AM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: ITFunity]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
I'll type slower...


#197160 - 09/07/06 12:24 PM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: Ed_Morris]
ITFunity Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/15/06
Posts: 2053

Sorry, I don't mean to be a pain. I do realize that this was posted.
However, Taekwon-Do's original ranking system had 8 gup levels & 9 black belt levels. Since modern day Taekwon-Do did not exist till the 20th century, I would agree that much did come from & evolve from the other Arts practiced at the time. Since the Japanese had colonized Korea, the influence of the Arts of the Japanese Empire were very strong.

Now there is a specific reason for why ITF Taekwon-Do has 9 levels of black belts. I would copy my previous post, but do not know how. One may scroll above to find it.

So ITF Taekwon-Do does not copy, as they have 9 compared to 10 levels.

MY question is still unanswered:
What is the reason behind the WTF/KTA & Kukkiwon using 10 degree ranks?

If your answer remains they copied off the Japanese, then that is fine, but then I would ask WHY did the Japanese decide on 10?
Is there any specific reason written/documented for the use of 10 as their terminal degree?

If one does not know the answer, that is fine, as I do not know it either. That is why I am asking. But so far, no one has offered an explanation that goes at the heart of the question. Please forgive me for attempting to seek knowledge.

I would say we are beating a dead horse, but we are not, as no one has yet offered an answer, so I continue.

#197161 - 09/07/06 02:31 PM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: ITFunity]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
ok, so you can accept TKD followed suit from Japanese arts influence. next step: "WHY did the Japanese decide on 10?"

answer: according to
"Sometime shortly after he (J. Kano) decided to form his own jujutsu style, Dr. Kano also revised the ranking system, creating ten steps with relatively short intervals to keep judo students interested in progressing through the various technical levels."

why 10? I never got a chance to ask Dr. Kano, so I don't know. In order to have to look at was there any significance to the number '10' in Japanese culture during the 1880's ? perhaps it being during Japan's moderization period (Meiji), that he decided a on a more universally and mathematically accepted base '10' than a number held on local superstition or religious belief. who knows.

thats one part of the question...the other part is easier to answer...'why does ITF have 9 dans?'


According to General Choi, "The reason for nine black belt degrees is that the number three is a powerful number in the orient, and therefore three threes must be the most powerful."

...unless of course, someone comes along with 3*3*3 = 27th dan. Then THEY are the most powerful. lol

I think in the General Choi case, it was a matter of carving out a national identity which was unwantingly heavily influenced by the Japanese. so instead of following exactly...they change it to nine and make something up to make it sound significant and by design. also shortly after, the belt colors came attached with symbolic stories.

can't blame them for wanting to carve out national identity after being nearly assimilated by Japan...but it still carries over into today with the TKD 4000+ years old claims based on a cave drawing discovered showing a guy lifting his leg..."see! it's TKD!!".

anyway...some direction for further reading if you want...hope that at least brings you closer to what you are trying to find out.

#197162 - 09/07/06 02:34 PM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: ITFunity]
laf7773 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 4065
Loc: Limbo
The question has been answered. There is no written "reason" for the use of 10 dan grades. In the "old days" in Japan ranking, if you want to call it that, was in three primary levels shoden (not to be confused with shodan), chuden and okuden or low, middle and high level. Some would argue there was a fourth level, hiden, that was taught only to a select few or in some cases only one student who was to become the inheritor of the system. As was pointed out the current dan grade system was developed more to develop a rank structure most likely for political reasons within the system.

One explanation i have heard is that Kano stated at one point that there was no limit to the dan level an individual could attain. If someone were to attain a level higher than 10th dan they could be awarded rank higher than 10th dan, but since no one was ever awarded rank higher than 10th dan the Kodokan effectively took on a 10 dan rank structure. Since this was the first rank system of it's kind other systems simply followed suit instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. It wasn't till recent years that various "systems" began to go out side this imaginary boundary and take on various rank structures.

I don't know anything about the ITF but i would imagine their reason for only having 9 dan grades may have something to do with 10th dan being reserved for that organizations original founder and is not to be reissued leaving 9th dan it's highest attainable rank.

Hope this answers your question better and this horse can die in peace now.
Enjoy life while you can, you never know when things will change.

#197163 - 09/07/06 02:38 PM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: laf7773]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772

One explanation i have heard is that Kano stated at one point that there was no limit to the dan level an individual could attain.

finally! a justification for my 'Nth Degree' !!! lol

#197164 - 09/07/06 02:45 PM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: Ed_Morris]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote by Ed Morris -


...unless of course, someone comes along with 3*3*3 = 27th dan. Then THEY are the most powerful. lol

OMG don't give them any ideas, Ed!
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

#197165 - 09/07/06 02:57 PM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: MattJ]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
I realize I'm jumping into this quite late as I normally don't get into rank issues, but I have some thoughts that might assist.

One no organization needs to explain how its structured to junior members. Then again junior members can always go elsewhere.

Second the link between the Korean systems and the Japanese systems will never be explained or justified to anyone. After 50 years of being crushed by Japan (just check out one the on line Seoul newspapers and still see articles about those times) under no circumstances do the Koreans feel any need to explain anyting to anyone. Just one wanting to know the answer is no reason that they'd ever care to give you one.

The inter-relationship of Japanese structures on the Korean arts, while there, are too painful to ackknowledge.

Put youself in their shoes, they still despise Japan, and always will once you understand what japan did.

So why 9 versus 10 dans, is unknowlable.

But 10 isn't a standard. Some Japanese systems only have 5, others 9 or 10, and the Nijutsu dudes have gone to 15 recently. Kano's Judo has 12 though only up to 10 have been awarded so far.

From my perspective the strongest dan structure will be the 6*6*6. When reached will signify the end of all time and what the holder of such grand rank really is.. a devil.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#197166 - 09/07/06 03:54 PM Re: Tenth Level Black Belt [Re: Victor Smith]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
Victor, I have 6 letters in each of my first,middle and last names...coincidence? mwahaha

one last thought on the subject...time between grades.
1st to 2nd dan - 2 years
2nd to 3rd - 3 years
3rd to 4th - 4 years

so 1st to 10th would be a rough minimum of:
2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10 = 54 years.

add to that, the age you start plus time it takes for kyu ranks. ...say, another 10 years minimum.

so a 10th dan (by even the roughest estimates) would be in their 60's.

this rough guideline (for the 10 dan system) seems reasonable and is sortof an accepted outline. but as victor says in so many words ....'meh'.

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