Rank. Or in my case, the lack thereof.

“What belt are you?”
“How long will it take to make black belt?”
“how often can you get promoted?”

… Probably the most common questions anyone receives relating to any sort of martial art. If you ask me I’ll proudly say, “white”, “I don’t care”, and “I don’t know”.

While I’m certain it’s quite common for the fly-by-night McDojo’s popping up in strip malls to happily answer all those questions, I have the distinct impression that it would be rudely impetuous to ask such questions in a traditional Japanese dōjō.

I’m there to learn. I’m there to study & get better. I’m there not to strive for some end-goal, a black belt, and then be done. I’m there just to strive. If I study for three more years before Sensei even mentions a test… Fine. Just as long as I’m still learning. If I wear my white belt until it goes threadbare and I have to replace it with another white belt… Fine.

But to sort of answer the “belt question:”

From what I’ve been able to gather, Yamate Ryū Aikijutsu has three belt colors for mudansha (students below a black belt.) White, green, and brown. Each of the belts has a lower or upper level, indicated by a stripe of the next higher level on the belt. So, the first test I pass will reward me with a green stripe on my white belt, etc. There are a total of 6 kyū levels, counting backwards. So I am a 6th-kyū, called a rokyu, a white belt. A white belt with green tips is a 5th-kyū, a gokyu, and it pretty much falls apart in my head at that point until we get to the dan levels.

The black belt levels start with shodan, and count in degrees in ascending order. Beyond that, I’m not too certain. It’s way too far away for me to worry about, and, as I already wrote, it’s not the reason I’m there.

Monday night, Brad Sensei told the other white belt that she was coming up on her first test. He looked to me and said, “you’ll have a bit to go, yet.”

Good… It was only two weeks ago that I fell over into a rack of bokken while trying to get out of sieza!

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