Dan Gradings

Last Updated: 11th July 2021

The aim of the dan grading system is to provide karateka with a clear, unambiguous, and definitive measure of the progress, development and current level of their karate. Dan gradings are opportunities for karateka to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and understanding of Shotokan Karate. The decision to undertake a dan grading should shape a karateka’s approach to training and encourage the attainment of a higher level of karate skills and knowledge. Dan gradings also provide the opportunity for the Shotokan Nation to assess the development of the instruction provided by the association and the standard of our karate. 


  1. Shotokan Nation karateka will be eligible to take a dan grading if all of the following criteria are met:


    • they hold a current Shotokan Nation licence, which must be shown at the grading 
    • they have trained regularly at a Shotokan Nation club, twice a week wherever possible 
    • they have the written permission of their club instructor to grade. Where the karateka grading is the most senior grade in the club, written permission must be obtained from a more senior Shotokan Nation karateka with whom they train on a regular basis.  
    • the appropriate time period has elapsed since their last grading  
    • karateka taking a grading for 1st dan must be 1st kyu, not intermediate 1st kyu


  1. Dan gradings may only be taken at designated Shotokan Nation courses, details of which will be circulated to all relevant Shotokan Nation members.


  2. The minimum time periods between dan gradings and grading fees are: 


Minimum time period 

Grading fee 

1st kyu to 1st dan 

6 months 


1st dan to 2nd dan 

2 years 


2nd dan to 3rd dan 

3 years 


3rd dan to 4th dan 

4 years 


4th dan to 5th dan 

5 years 


5th dan to 6th dan 

6 years 


  1. Gradings for 6th dan may only be undertaken at the invitation of the Shotokan Nation Quality Assurance Committee. This invitation will be issued on the basis of:


    • at least six years having elapsed since the karateka’s 5th dan grading 
    • attendance at Shotokan Nation events 
    • instructor, assessor, timekeeper, judge and referee qualifications 
    • other contributions to the organisation and running of Shotokan Nation


  1. The performance of a karateka during their grading will be assessed using the five criteria described in the kyu grading syllabus.


  2. Criteria will be judged to have been met, partially met or not met.


  3. Where the threshold number of criteria have not been met, but an appropriate number of criteria have been met or partially met, in either the kata or the kumite sections of the grading, the karateka will be permitted to retake that section of the grading at a later date, not less than 3 calendar months and not more than 12 calendar months, after the original grading. The grading fee for the retake of that section will be £70.


  4. Karateka who have joined Shotokan Nation from another association and are 1st or 2nd dan grades, must retake their current grade within 12 calendar months of joining Shotokan Nation.


  5. Karateka who have joined Shotokan Nation from another association and are 3rd dan or above must:


    • train on a minimum of three Shotokan Nation courses and record the date, location and the name of the senior instructor for each course 
    • introduce themselves to the most senior instructor on each course 
    • having attended three courses, contact the Shotokan Nation Quality Assurance Committee for guidance on the date of the most appropriate grading 
    • at their grading present their most recent licence from their last association together with an official record of their gradings to date


  1. During the grading of karateka who have joined Shotokan Nation from another association and are 3rd dan or above, the grading examiners may, at their discretion, require the karateka to undertake elements of the syllabus for any dan grading up to that for which they are grading.


  2. Having undertaken a grading, karateka who have joined Shotokan Nation from another association and are 3rd dan or above, will be awarded a grade commensurate with their Shotokan Nation standard, which will be deemed to apply from the date of their most recent grading with their last association.


  3. There are no age restrictions for Shotokan Nation karateka undertaking 1st or 2nd dan gradings.


  4. The minimum age for Shotokan Nation karateka to be eligible to take 3rd dan is 21 years of age.


  5. Gumshields, groin protectors (where appropriate) and hand mitts are compulsory for jiyu ippon and jiyu kumite. Chest protectors (where appropriate) are recommended for jiyu ippon and jiyu kumite.

  6. There is no appeal process with regard to the outcome of a dan grading. The decision of the grading examiners is final.