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Rainhill Kase Ha Shotokan Karate Academy

Dan Grades

Very few karateka I know would ever say that achieving a black belt was the primary reason they joined a dojo. Yet for any student, earning a black belt can indeed be the by-product of their years of effort; all they have to do is train long enough, and hard enough.

In Shotokan karate a black belt or dan ranking is a individual achievement that they will remember for the rest of their life, and even though karate is not a team sport, it is virtually impossible for any student to reach the black belt level without constantly training in the company of others.

Unfortunately, many students having reached the rank of Shodan (1st degree black belt) consider this to be "the end of their journey" and stop training. In reality, the opposite is true, as a black belt is only the first step down a truly long and wondrous path for those who have the discipline to walk it.

"Starting out wearing a white belt made of cotton, the student progresses through the Kyu ranks until they find themselves on the threshold of their Sho Dan grading.
Finally, upon passing their grading, they are a "black belt" at last and will now wear this colour of belt for the remainder of their martial arts career.
As the years pass and their belt has been tied and untied a countless number of times, the student will look down one day late in life and notice that all the black colouring has worn off. Their belt is now white again.
The beginner has now become the master, who after a lifetime of training has in the end come to see the truth, that they have always been a white belt, the colour was always just an illusion, something to feed their ego until, when after many years of physical, mental and spiritual training, the time came when ego no longer mattered.
In Shotokan karate it is not the colour of the belt around your waist that makes you a success; what does make you a success is how well and how true you pass on the knowledge that you have come to possess to those who follow you down the Shotokan road. If you can ever truly come to that realization then your circle will indeed be complete".

There are ten dan levels that can be awarded in Shotokan karate. The ten dan levels are awarded in the following order starting from the lowest rank, Shodan (1st Dan) and going to the highest rank Judan (10th Dan).

The following are the basic Dan examination requirements and standards, of the ESA and these requirements are subject to change at anytime. All students should familiarize themselves with the various requirements for each belt level prior to turning in their grading application. If you are unfamiliar with any of the kihon, kata, or kumite required for your next belt level, you should not attempt to grade, but instead you should continue to train until you feel comfortable with all of the requirements. If in doubt speak with your sensei.

  1. Shodan or 1st Dan.
  2. Nidan or 2nd Dan.
  3. Sandan or 3rd Dan.
  4. Yondan or 4th Dan.
  5. Godan or 5th Dan.
  6. Rokudan or 6th Dan.
  7. Schichidan or 7th Dan.
  8. Hachidan or 8th Dan.
  9. Kudan or 9th Dan.
  10. Judan or 10th Dan.


  1. Dan Grades may only be awarded to student over the age of 16 years.
  2. Persons taking dan grades must apply a minimum of 28 days prior to the examination.
  3. Dan grade Examinations are only conducted on specified courses.
  4. There is a requirement at all levels for qualifying courses to be attended.

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Shodan (1st Dan)


  1. Forward kizame tsuki, oi tsuki, gyaku tsuki back age uke gyaku tsuki, uraken forward mae geri, jun tsuki, gyaku tsuki.
  2. Forward kizame tsuki, oi tsuki, gyaku tsuki back soto uke, yoko enpi, otoshi uraken, gyaku tsuki forward yoko kekome geri, uraken, gyaku tsuki.
  3. Forward kizame tsuki, oi tsuki, gyaku tsuki back uchi uke, kizame tsuki, gyaku tsuki forward mawashi geri, gyaku tsuki, uraken uchi.
  4. Forward kizame tsuki, oi tsuki, gyaku tsuki back gedan barai same hand uraken, gyaku tsuki forward ushiro geri, uraken, gyaku tsuki.
  5. Forward kizame tsuki, oi tsuki, gyaku tsuki back shuto uke , mae ashi mae geri, nukite.
  6. Mae geri / yoko kekome same leg kicking.
  7. Mae geri / mawashi geri same leg kicking.
  8. Yoko keage / yoko kekome same leg kicking.



"Your belt is a visual symbol of your past effort and dedication, so wear it with pride".

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