Nearly everybody knows modern martial arts (gendai-budô現代武道, „current martial arts“) such as jûdô, aikidô or kendô with their often colored belts and chest patches as well as kyû and dan grades.
Whereas in the koryû古流 („old schools“) founded before 1868 a menkyo system (a pure certifying system) is used. Nevertheless a few koryû have introduced the kyû/dan system besides their menkyo system already, which luckily in the case of the Hokushin Ittô-Ryû Hyôhô has neither happened nor is planned for the future.
In the Hokushin Ittô-Ryû Hyôhô, all documents such as Makimono (written scrolls) and inka-jô (“normal” certificates) are written individually for each student by hand und are presented to him/her by only the gen-sôke (current head/ leader).
The Hokushin Ittô-Ryû is divided ascending into these three stages:
Shoden – 初伝
Chûden – 中伝
Mastery of these stages will be attested with 5 makimono (written scrolls).
further subdivision of the 3 stages Shoden, Chûden and Okuden:
Kirigami (corresponds approximately to a 1st dan kendô/iaidô)
– first half: Hatsu-Mokuroku (corresponds approximately to a 4th dan kendô/ iaidô);
concurrently attainment of a Shidôin‘s position (stage between student and master)
– second half: Kajô-Mokuroku (corresponds approximately a to 6th dan kendô/iaidô);
concurrently attainment of the position of a Shihandai (beginning master)
The Kajô-Mokuroku ist the stage which is the hardest to cope with. As besides other things fluent Japanese is postulated now, this is particularly the case for non-Japanese students.
– completion of the Chûden:
Chû-Mokuroku/Menkyo (corresponds approximately to an 8th dan kendô/iaidô);
certifies mastery of the school’s complete technical and philosophical curriculum
Dai-Mokuroku/Menkyo-Kaiden (corresponds approximately a 10th dan kendô/iaidô)
All secrets of the school have been transmitted and the Hokushin Ittô-Ryû has been mastered in every detail.
There’s a Naginata-Mokuroku besides the five makimono already mentioned, which certifies the mastery of all naginata techniques. It is often issued together with the Chû-Mokuroku/ not until the Chû-Mokuroku is issued, unless these techniques have been mastered ahead the Chûden level.
You can find a slightly more detailed overview of the graduations awarded within the Hokushin Ittô-Ryû Hyôhô on the homepage of the honbu (headquarter) of this traditional school of martial arts.