A Japanese documentary about the examination of the 8th Dan in Kendo.

Sato Hironobu sensei (Kendo 8th Dan hanshi) and me at the BUDOKAN in Tokyo. Photo by Peter Ryan.

Sato Hironobu sensei (Kendo 8th Dan hanshi) and me at the BUDOKAN in Tokyo. Photo by Peter Ryan.

Text by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi

As you might know I have been a long time in Japan studying Japanese martial arts, such as Judo and Kendo. For a while I studied both martial arts, but later I decided to focus only on Kendo.

I am now the holder of the 6th Dan (or rank) and have the license to teach Kendo. Maybe I am the only non-Japanese getting all my Dan grades in Japan. If I am wrong, please let me know.

The 8th Dan (in Japanese hachi-Dan) is the highest rank attainable through a test of physical Kendo skills. Kendo examinations typically consist of a demonstration of the skill of the applicants and for some Dan grades, also a written exam. The 8th Dan Kendo exam is extremely difficult, with a reported pass rate of less than 1 percent. All candidates for examination face a panel of examiners. A larger, more qualified panel is usually assembled to assess the higher Dan grades.

Harder than becoming a lawyer or a surgeon in Japan is becoming a 8th Dan Kendo swordsman. This Japanese documentary which is divided into five parts will tell you why. Two men and their attempt are shown to reach that peak – one is a former National Kendo Champion who has failed the very 1st step of the test 4 times who I personally know. The other is a 78 year old man who has been taking the test for 24 years!!!

Although the narration is in Japanese, English subtitles appear on the bottom of the screen. I recommend these videos to beginners and advanced students of Kendo. Also to people who study Japanese.

Since my arrival to NY last year I didn’t have the time to practice or teach Kendo in NY due to my busy music and publishing activities. When I have time I go to the park and practice Kendo by myself.

Sore ja video o mio ka! (in Japanese: let’s watch the videos!)

Check out this video!!!