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    The first yudansha

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    NBK

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    The first yudansha

    Post by NBK on Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:51 am

    Was reading an old thread about gido taiso, OP from Ippero, and he linked to this interesting paper (Japanese only):
    Historical study of Gido Taiso
    On pg 20, there's a table derived from Oimatsu sensei's history of judo.

    The top right column noted 'Meiji 43' (which is 1910) notes
    New students entered this fiscal year: 844
    Total students: 11,407
    Yudansha (judo sho dan rank and above holders): 1,150

    If I read it correctly, the chart indicates there were no yudansha before 1910; I thought it was quite a bit earlier than that.

    But think of the administrative requirements to produce paperwork for over 1,000 people scattered around Japan, as everything was centralized in the Kodokan then.

    So, it starts with about 10% of judoka having dan ranks, but by Showa 8 / 1933, the last entry, over half of the 76,823 registered judoka have dan rank.

    This speaks to the question earlier of what a shodan means in Kodokan judo - a serious beginner only, not a master.

    NBK

    DougNZ

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    Re: The first yudansha

    Post by DougNZ on Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:24 am

    NBK wrote:
    This speaks to the question earlier of what a shodan means in Kodokan judo - a serious beginner only, not a master.

    NBK

    That is very insightful, thank you NBK.

    I remember in the 1980s when Bob Jones was promoting his Zen do kai (a modern type of karate) in Australia.  He had 5,000 students and 3,000 of them were black belts.  Under his Jet Black system, one could get a black belt in six months (training about six times a week).  Otherwise it took about 3-4 years.  At the time it was met with ridicule - as something of a McDojo - but, of course, the '70s and '80s was when the legend of the super-human black belt was cemented and Zen do kai was very much the exception.  

    The thing is, nothing much is new when one delves back in history.

    The proportional growth in black belts from 1910 - 1933 shows that there was a different focus at the Kodokan compared to that during the recent decades in the West. The journey was promoted actively there whereas it was very hard to see 'life after shodan' in the West. Shodan at the Kodokan was the beginning of steps up a mountain whilst in the West it was almost the pinnacle.
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: The first yudansha

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:19 am

    NBK wrote:
    On pg 20, there's a table derived from Oimatsu sensei's history of judo.

    The top right column noted 'Meiji 43' (which is 1910) notes
    New students entered this fiscal year: 844
    Total students: 11,407
    Yudansha (judo sho dan rank and above holders): 1,150

    If I read it correctly, the chart indicates there were no yudansha before 1910; I thought it was quite a bit earlier than that.

    ---snip---

    NBK


    Not sure what you meant there, but as you know Tomita became the first shodan in August 1883, with Saigô Shirô being awarded shodan second. By October 1904 Nagaoka and Yokoyama became the first Kôdôkan schichidan-holders. Mifune became a 5th dan in 1909, and Isogai a 6th dan in August 1904. If I recall correctly, the departure from completely handwritten dan-rank certificates by Kanô himself for all dan-ranks even occurred before 1910.

    In addition, Kanô issued qualifications in Kitô-ryû, to several people including to Tomita, Saigô, and Yamashita, though several of them at that time still held a different name (as you know, that is not uncommon in Japan; Tomita still went by the name of Yamada, and Saigô still went by the name of Hoshina). Of course these were not "certificates" like Westerners understand that term, so these did not say that so and so were awarded this rank, but instead it was simply the first scroll of Kitô-ryû. Kitô-ryû did not typically use kiri-gami which is more what Westerners understand under certificate, although some branches [this applies to Kanô's own Takenaka-ha] of Kitô-ryû do have a separate "permission to instruct menkyo". Since Kitô-ryû was not a sôke-system this is understandable. Even Tenjin Shin'yô-ryû is not consistent over the ages, certainly not what different branches are concerned.


    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:27 pm; edited 6 times in total


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    BillC

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    Re: The first yudansha

    Post by BillC on Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:47 am

    NBK wrote:Was reading an old thread about gido taiso, OP from Ippero, and he linked to this interesting paper (Japanese only):
    Historical study of Gido Taiso
    On pg 20, there's a table derived from Oimatsu sensei's history of judo.

    The top right column noted 'Meiji 43' (which is 1910) notes
    New students entered this fiscal year: 844
    Total students: 11,407
    Yudansha (judo sho dan rank and above holders): 1,150

    If I read it correctly, the chart indicates there were no yudansha before 1910; I thought it was quite a bit earlier than that.

    But think of the administrative requirements to produce paperwork for over 1,000 people scattered around Japan, as everything was centralized in the Kodokan then.      

    So, it starts with about 10% of judoka having dan ranks, but by Showa 8 / 1933, the last entry, over half of the 76,823 registered judoka have dan rank.

    This speaks to the question earlier of what a shodan means in Kodokan judo - a serious beginner only, not a master.

    NBK

    Mr. Natural,

    A couple of things you might be able to comment ... or speculate ... about.

    - Of the 11,000 students, how many were children, how many adults? Would you guess it was a youthful bunch at least?
    - If one assumes that yudansha leave the planet at a rate slower than the rate at which they are produced ... the proportion of dan grades should increase.

    For the purpose of arguing with local leadership about expenditure and allocation ... I charted the members of our yudanshakai ... kyu and dan grades ... and found that there were as many or more adults enrolled at any given time as there were kids. This I would not have guessed at first glance. But if you think about it, the proportion of "lifers" might be small, but they persist in judo for the duration ... we just said goodbye to http://www.pacificsouthwestjudo.com/?p=604 yesterday for example, he was pushing 80.

    - I've noticed, as many people have, that there is a tendency for people to reach shodan and quit. It does not happen very often that a nidan, sandan, etc. who put in their time and their paperwork take to the couch entirely. They may get caught up in life for a few years, they may only show up once or twice a week, but they do come back. No data just something I observe to be true.

    As to what a shodan means in Kodokan Judo ...

    - What does it mean in other martial arts? In shodou for that matter?

    - When were those ranks first awarded?

    Cheers.

    Bill


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    NBK

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    Re: The first yudansha

    Post by NBK on Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:08 pm

    BillC wrote:
    NBK wrote:Was reading an old thread about gido taiso, OP from Ippero, and he linked to this interesting paper (Japanese only):
    Historical study of Gido Taiso
    On pg 20, there's a table derived from Oimatsu sensei's history of judo.

    The top right column noted 'Meiji 43' (which is 1910) notes
    New students entered this fiscal year: 844
    Total students: 11,407
    Yudansha (judo sho dan rank and above holders): 1,150

    If I read it correctly, the chart indicates there were no yudansha before 1910; I thought it was quite a bit earlier than that.

    But think of the administrative requirements to produce paperwork for over 1,000 people scattered around Japan, as everything was centralized in the Kodokan then.      

    So, it starts with about 10% of judoka having dan ranks, but by Showa 8 / 1933, the last entry, over half of the 76,823 registered judoka have dan rank.

    This speaks to the question earlier of what a shodan means in Kodokan judo - a serious beginner only, not a master.

    NBK

    Mr. Natural,

    A couple of things you might be able to comment ... or speculate ... about.

    -  Of the 11,000 students, how many were children, how many adults?  Would you guess it was a youthful bunch at least?
    -  If one assumes that yudansha leave the planet at a rate slower than the rate at which they are produced ... the proportion of dan grades should increase.  

    For the purpose of arguing with local leadership about expenditure and allocation ... I charted the members of our yudanshakai ... kyu and dan grades ... and found that there were as many or more adults enrolled at any given time as there were kids.  This I would not have guessed at first glance.  But if you think about it, the proportion of "lifers" might be small, but they persist in judo for the duration ... we just said goodbye to http://www.pacificsouthwestjudo.com/?p=604 yesterday for example, he was pushing 80.

    -  I've noticed, as many people have, that there is a tendency for people to reach shodan and quit.  It does not happen very often that a nidan, sandan, etc. who put in their time and their paperwork take to the couch entirely.  They may get caught up in life for a few years, they may only show up once or twice a week, but they do come back.  No data just something I observe to be true.

    As to what a shodan means in Kodokan Judo ...

    -  What does it mean in other martial arts?  In shodou for that matter?

    -  When were those ranks first awarded?

    Cheers.

    Bill
    I expect that many if not most of the first tranche of promoted were adults, but surely children followed pretty quickly; you'd have to know the history of the names, or have direct access to Kodokan records (which is now not available, I am told, because of privacy concerns; the data would provide an interesting history paper - I will suggest it to some judo researchers).

    One of the few early child dan holders that I know of direct evidence was Tomiki sensei, born 1900, who moved to Tokyo to attend Waseda University after graduating high school (in Akita IIRC) as a 17 yr old judo 2dan, circa 1917. So, there is evidence that children were promoted to dan rank / 'black belts' early on. (I just talked to a US business colleague who attended his two high school kids' _3dan_ taekwondo promotion test.... I shoulda practiced a bit longer....)

    If anything early Kodokan promotions at the lower ranks were faster than today. Postwar there are some serious minimum time in grade requirements that slow things down after 2, 3 dan, above that things slow down a lot. (This summer one of the Kodokan instructors mentioned a famous judoka and said, it's too bad he's so young... [he's near 70] as he'll never reach Xdan, can't meet the minimum time in grade requirements...)

    In other arts, in my experience, shodan / 1dan only means 'serious beginner who put up with this stuff pretty consistently for a couple of years, can demonstrate a number of throws and won't hurt himself when he falls down'. And I'm talking about jujutsu, jodo, kyudo, kendo. I met a businessman who is a 3dan in Heiki ryu kyudo - after 3-4 years of practice in college.

    And shodo, too.

    AFAIK all other colored belt promotion systems postdate judo's. Kano shihan set the precedence, everyone else followed.

    Later he dresses it up a bit to say it was for motivation, recognition, etc., but his writings indicate that it was at first a practical matter, as the dojo attendees grew to the point that they could not provide direct instructor / practice with new students. The black belts allowed the instructors to glance around the dojo and tell when the newbies were grouped or had a senior student at hand with whom to practice. Until then the belts tended to be simple, pretty short fabric belts to hold the keikogi together - after that they began to be more fancy material. I can't anyone that knows when there was a change to the multi-fold thick versions of today.

    NBK
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    NBK

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    Re: The first yudansha

    Post by NBK on Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:12 pm

    Reading some of Kano shihan's memoirs today, it's clear that the development of the Kodokan Yudanshakai greatly increased the number of yudansha as they began to promulgate testing teams, promoting more jujutsuka who practiced in judo dojo, and to recognize the Butokukai's role and test and recognize the Butokukai practitioners as Kodokan judoka. He wrote of the administrative challenges as the numbers soared, and the difficulty of maintaining test quality control.

    Also it's clear there were yudansha before the dates above, so I don't know why they started counting them from that date.

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