How Ryusei Karate Black Belt Levels Differ from Other Styles

The head of our style, Sakamoto-Sensei, is an 8th dan, and he decided that Ryusei Karate-Do would be an eight-dan system. So we have no ninth or 10th dans.

The fewer black belt ranks didn’t mean much to us 24 years ago when Ryusei Karate came to Canada. We were all far from reaching his level.

In our style, as practitioners attempt each new black belt level, they must show increased body connection, power, understanding, and a desire to explore Ryusei principles further.

So, for those of us who joined Ryusei Karate in 2000-01, this approach became part of our way of training, always guided by Sakamoto-Sensei’s drive to find O-Sensei’s technique.

A Ryusei black belt test includes teaching credentials as part of the test.  While other systems have separate fees for dan gradings and titles, in Ryusei karate, titles are awarded automatically when you pass a dan ranking. While this is a fair way to treat black belt candidates, the unified ranks/titles and the smaller eight-dan system mean that examinees must pass a rigorous set of criteria demonstrating an in-depth understanding of what they are practicing, teaching and researching.

When people grade up in Ryusei Karate, the ranks/titles they may be able to achieve are:

  • Sandan—Shidoin
  • Yondan—Shihan Dai
  • Godan—Shihan
  • Rokudan—Renshi
  • Nanadan—Kyoshi
  • Hachidan—Hanshi

The system puts a ceiling on gradings. Since Sakamoto-Sensei is 8th dan, this is the highest level anyone can attain in Ryusei karate — equivalent to a 10th dan in another karate style.

So, while it is challenging to climb the ranks under the Ryusei methodology we’ve developed in Canada, we believe the extra effort pays off in the quality of our yudansha and their understanding of O-Sensei’s karate.

—Peter Zehr
Grey Bruce Ryusei Karate