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Godan test? Got references?
Village Old Timer
From Dayton, Ohio
村民 :: Villager
Rank in the Bujinkan has been a source of concern for a long time. Recently it was re-iterated that you really needed to be a yondan before sitting for your godan.
We have not yet required references and credit scores to take the Godan test but things could go that way. Soke has said through several people (as he always does), that you must bring documentation of your yondan to the Dojo to take your Godan. I always wonder when these things come out secondarily how much of it comes from Soke and how much is him noncommittally agreeing to concerns expressed by others and interpreted as law.
Certainly I have heard it said that you should have your yondan for a year before taking the test many times in the past. Also one visit I saw Soke promote a friend to Sandan, test him for godan and before he went home promote him to Nanadan. This totally messed with my mind as while he was my friend, he started the trip below my teacher and leapfrogged ahead of him. At that time I did not understand what he had done to deserve the rank. It bothered me and upset my relationship with him. He had not changed. I changed the way I thought of him. It was not his problem, it was mine.
I would urge everyone to read Duncan Stewarts Blog on Rank to see a very concise and clear point of view how rank works in the bujinkan. This is really great and much better than what will follow.
I resisted getting rank for a while but someone told me I might be insulting Soke by refusing rank. Another well-known rank refuser was pointed out to me as a bad example. Because I went to Japan frequently and was not a total idiot while in Japan I was given 15th dan. (Several times). How impressive I must be. However long before my 10th day I had started to understand one of my other teachers who when offered rank stated, “If you want, but I am still going to train”. I felt if I stopped avoiding rank I could get beyond it and then it would not be an issue. It continues to plague me.
I have heard of several 15th dans that have apparently been given free license to give the Godan test away from Japan. Having seen the 15th dans give the Godan test at the “Big” daikomyosai it was clear it was not the same as Soke giving the test.
I have heard a general rule that up to 5th dan your rank is based on basic skill, above that it is based on social recognition. Certainly in my case that is totally accurate. Soke is usually happy to see me and that I have survived another year. Some of the things our dojo does makes him happy and so we are ranked. We have had 10 of our students pass the Godan test and are proud of that. But we try to remind all our Godans that this is recognition of basic skill and luck. Both are important. The real test is what will you do with the rank you are given.
My problem with the controversy about rank is that whatever rank someone else is given should have no effect on what we think about our rank or the bujinkan in general. If you are concerned about someone getting a 5th dan before their time you are worried about what someone else will think about you or your art. Will you stop training if a stranger or even a friend feels the bujinkan is irrelevant? Will your feelings about your art change because of someone else’s opinions? Frankly is someone lacks the skills for being a godan, their road is very difficult. If they continue to advance in rank far beyond their skills and put some value on their rank they will be in good company in the host of 15th dans who have come to believe that they are shihan.
Give them all godans, They will sort themselves out!
Posted on: 2016/9/8 13:59