Dan (2022)

The ranking system is used by many Japanese organizations to indicate the level of one’s ability (expertise) within a certain subject matter. As a ranking system, it was originally used at a go school during the Edo period. It is now also used in modern fine arts and martial arts. The system was applied to martial arts by Kanō Jigorō (1860–1938), the founder of judo, in 1883, and later introduced to other East Asia countries. In the modern Japanese martial arts, holders of dan ranks often wear a black belt; those of higher rank may also wear red-and-white and red belts. Dan ranks are still given for strategic board games such as go, Japanese chess (shogi), and renju as well as for cultural arts such as flower arrangement (ikebana), Japanese calligraphy (shodō) and tea ceremony (sadō).  The Chinese character for the word dan (段) literally means step or stage in Japanese, but is also used to refer to one’s rank or grade, i.e., one’s degree or level of expertise. In Chinese pinyin, however, the same character is spelled duàn, and was originally used to mean phase. Dan is often used together with the word in certain ranking systems, with dan being used for the higher ranks and kyū being used for lower ranks.

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