World personal martial arts federation, see the need of an additional rating system for martial art levels; this according to the WPMAF Declaration of July 2010.
Many cross train martial arts, have a huge experience within martial arts and/ or is widely used as a source of martial arts information, but their rating in form of belt rank is not correlated with their real level. Their REAL martial art level is not manifested through their distinct main martial art style belt rank. Perhaps some will think this is perfectly correct; and say that with time you will get your proper belt rank. Other will call their rank to be misleading. WPMAF wants the true level of a martial artist to be reflected in their martial arts rank.
This is why WPMAF have introduced a variation of the classical Japanese 免許, めんきょor Menkyo system to help us to see the proper level. The Menkyo system is an old Japanese license system dating back to the 8th century. The base of the menkyo system is to categorize according to different licenses or according to different levels in different 流, ryu, school, style or art. There are two different rating systems used within martial arts: Menkyo and kyudan. The schools of martial arts who practice budo like “a way” normally uses the degrees kyu and dan. The classical examples of kyudan is different DO´s like: karate-do, judo and tae kwon do. The schools that practices the menkyo system is more connected to the transmission of knowledge from the master to disciple, and not to the classical belt tests. The classical example is Japanese ju-jitsu.
The Essence of the Menkyo system
The Menkyo system depends on the mastery of the discipline and not the years of study. 免許皆伝 Menkyo kaiden is the highest level. Its meaning is: “License of total transmission”. Menkyo kaiden is awarded to a person who has learned everything. Everything is according to the requirements in the specific ryu. The transition from Menkyo to Kaiden is more connected to the accumulation of the martial art knowledge and not time spent in the dojo or passing martial arts examinations. Normally the Menkyo kaiden is the founder or successor of a martial art. Degrees based on the other rang system, kyudan, are more often connected to the timeline, fixed curriculum and belts.
The understanding of Kyudan and Menkyo
Kyudan is two words put together. Kyu translates often like in class and dan translates as rank or degree. Kyu holders normally have different colored belts and dan holders have black belts with stripes to indicate the proper dan . The Kyudan system is not a Japanese warrior system, but a system for commoners or lower class. It is basically a way to make structure within a martial art system. The Menkyo system was more a system to give rank or importance to officials and warriors.
The Kyudan system is normally divided into 15 to 20 levels (from white belt to 10 dan stripes on a black belt), but The Menkyo system has normally only 3 to 4 levels (normally indicated with a type of change in the clothes). In a way kyudan is divided in a predictable, motivating and commercially manner, but menkyo is purely knowledge or experience based. Of course, kyudan and menkyo merge, but they will never become the same.
The levels of the traditional menkyo system
The normal this system is divided in the following way:
Okuiri: Oku means secret and Iri means to enter. The true meaning of this is to enter into the secrecy of martial arts.
Mokuroku: Mokuroku means that you are registered as a practitioner of a martial art. Before this level you are “nobody”.
Level one: Shomokuroku: Beginning of training
Level two: Gomokuroku: Advanced training
Menkyo: Menkyo means license. You are regarded as an authority in your martial art
Kaiden: Kaiden is the highest level. The founder or successor of a martial art or martial arts style.
The WPMAF Belt degrees
WPMAF initiate a Menkyo based system as a rank system or belt system with sub-levels with the intention to measure and indicate the real level of martial artists. The rank is indicated with the words: Okuiri, Mokuroku, Menkyo and Kaiden. These four levels have different under divisions or sub-levels. They are indicated as different DANs. 段, Dan is Japanese and means step, phase or grade. WPMAF have made different criteria for passing the levels within a rank. The criteria are not connected to any specific martial art.
The WPMAF Menkyo system categorizes only on documented merit and partly through examination. The goal is to give a proper – and correct evaluation of the experience and progress within martial arts of a person. This WPMAF rank is not an entitlement but an acknowledgement. WPMAF will evaluate everybody who wants for FREE (Only one evaluation every 3 year is for free).
The purpose of this rank is not to overrule other ranks in distinct styles, but to supplement the understanding of the real martial art level!
WPMAF states in directive 12/43/10-A that every practitioner of martial arts should know minimum two styles of martial arts. This means that the person need to know one profoundly and one more superficial.
WPMAF Menkyo system
Everybody is evaluated according to the following requierments. Evaluation starts with Okuiri level #1, then #2, then #3 and ends with Menkyo kaiden #10. The last filled criteria is the WPMAF menkyo level.
Okuiri – First Master level (Enter into the secrecy of martial arts)
Indicated with a Black belt with “dan” stripes in RED color and WPMAF logo. Under the logo it is written OKUIRI.
1. Have a 1. Dan in a Martial art
2. Have competed and won minimum one prestigious Martial arts tournament
3. Have trained Martial arts for minimum 6 years
4. Have a 1. Dan in two Martial arts
5. Is a trainer in one Martial arts
Mokuroku – Second Master level (Registered as practitioner)
Mokuroku Shomokuroku – Second Master level I (Registered as practitioner)
Indicated with a Black belt with dan stripes in GOLD color and WPMAF logo. Under the logo it is written MOKUROKU
1. Is a trainer in two Martial arts
2. Have trained martial arts for 10 years
3. Been trainer at minimum five Martial arts clubs or events, nationally
4. Been trainer at minimum five Martial arts clubs or events, internationally
5. Have minimum 3. Dan in a Martial art
Mokuroku Gomokuroku – Second Master level II (Registered as practitioner)
Indicated with a Black belt with dan stripes in GOLD color and WPMAF logo. Under the logo it is written MOKUROKU.
6. Is a main trainer in two Martial arts
7. Have trained martial arts for 15 years
8. Have minimum 4. Dan in one Martial art and 2. Dan in another Martial art
9. Have a representative martial arts club and a representative group of students
10. Shown a honorable figure within Martial arts
Menkyo – Grand Master level (License)
Indicated with a Black belt with a red border and “dan” stripes in GOLD color and WPMAF logo. Under the logo it is written MENKYO.
1. Have minimum 4. Dan in one Martial art and 3. Dan in another Martial art
2. Have trained Martial arts actively for minimum of 20 years
3. Used as a main trainer at ten national Martial arts events
4. Used as main trainer at ten international Martial arts events
5. Have a known distinct Martial arts style with personal techniques and solutions
6. Have minimum ten trainers under himself
7. Have trained martial arts actively for minimum of 25 years
8. Openly develops his martial art
9. Have minimum 5. Dan in one martial art
10. Is regarded as a major authority within his martial art.
Menkyo Kaiden – Founder level (the highest level)
Indicated with a red belt and “dan” stripes in GOLD and WPMAF logo. Under the logo it is written KAIDEN.
1. Have developed a distinct martial art or martial art style with a proper name
2. It is founded a world organization or similar in the martial art or martial art style
3. The Martial art or Martial art style have minimum five national clubs
4. The Martial art or Martial art style exist on five continents
5. Have trained martial arts for minimum 30 years
6. It is arranged a world championship in the martial art or martial art style
7. Have a qualified person who will take over the martial art in the future
8. Continues to develop the martial art for something more complete
9. The style is complete as it can be.
10. Have made the other person take over the lineage.
World Personal Martial Arts Federation Declaration of July 2010
All Martial Arts practitioners should be Evaluated according to both the Kyudan – and the Menkyo system; this to have a correct evaluation of the practitioner. Martial arts evaluations need and have to reflect the true martial artist and not only the examination candidate.
When Properly Validated By an Independent Legal Body; the Practitioner is encouraged to use the style authorized rank when practicing the distinct martial art, AND the WPMAF Menkyo System rank for the practice who includes aspects from other martial arts and when practicing other martial arts.
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