“Thinking About “Dan,” by Seishiro Endo

“Grading is a means of objectively evaluating one’s capacity and progress by one set of standards. However, I believe that such a viewpoint has no relevance to seeking the Tao. For how far and how deep one has gone are internal questions that only the practitioner can answer. I have come to believe that it is impossible to measure each person’s depth in their pursuit using a fixed standard.”

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  1. …then there’s the old question of ‘if a tree in the forest falls, and nobody hears it, did it make a sound?’ Promotion is also a matter of being noticed.

  2. Grading should not be taken too seriously – each grade is more of a point of departure, than a point of arrival. Within each grade there is considerable variablility, not only in terms of quality, but also in terms of capacity.

    Historically, our obsession with grading can be traced to the ‘gendai’ era, a relatively modern development within martial arts as a whole, and a reflection of a somewhat rigid militaristic age.

    It is essentially an administrative device, which permits organisations to exercise control, license, derive income from practitioners, and provide structure to what is taught and learned. Like any other tool it can be used well or poorly.

    In many instances grading can be used politically, restricting membership or limiting opportunities for promotion and advancement.

    It is a form of standardisation. I agree with Endo Sensei, insofar as individuals do not come in standard forms.

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