Shodan (rank)

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Japanese name

Shodan (初段), literally meaning "beginning degree," is the lowest black belt rank in Japanese martial arts[1] and the game of Go. The 2nd dan is higher than Shodan, but the 1st dan is called Shodan traditionally and not "Ichidan". This is because the character 初 (sho, alternative pronunciation: hatsu) also means first, new or beginning in Japanese.

Also frequently referred to as "first dan", it is a part of the kyū/dan ranking system common to modern Japanese martial arts. The term may be used to describe both the rank a person holds, as well as the person (i.e., it is proper to say that a person holds the rank of shodan, and it is also appropriate to say, "I am a shodan in 'x' martial art").


  1. ^ Shodan definition (judo) Retrieved on 28 February 2010