Kendo Ni-dan Test


Today I took and passed the ni-dan, or 2nd dan, level test for Kendo in Takayama. I am most likely the first foreigner in Takayama to have passed the ni-dan test, and throughout all of Gifu prefecture, I'm probably one or 5 or so to have ever done so. Though my achievement in the sport is somewhat bitter sweet.

For some kind of context, perhaps you could consider this a second level black belt if you compared it to Karate. Though, using the black belt as a metaphor, I think some people consider a black belt as some kind of master level status, but that's not the case. A first level black belt, or a Shodan grade, means that you've successfully demonstrated that you know and can perform the basics and the core of the martial art. You've really only mastered the basics, and now the world is open to you.

Ni-dan is really just a stepping stone. I wouldn't say that it's a formality, though. I feel like achieving ni-dan shows that you've successfully demonstrated your capacity and motivation to continue learning and growing in the art. I don't feel like ni-dan has a true bar of skill for itself. It's more of a check-in to see whether or not you are continuing correctly. And that if you continue your path, it's possible for you to attain san-dan, or 3rd dan, in 2 years.

I think that's the next true step in Kendo. Shodan is the first step. With that you've become a true practitioner of Kendo. But with 3-dan, you've become a professional. You're an athlete. It's no longer just enough for me to get the title and become that rank. I need to build myself. I need to train. I need to take exercise and health seriously. I need to become the ideal of that rank to get that title.