Rank System


Rank notes advancement as fighters progress in their personal conditioning, fighting ability, teamwork, tactical and leadership skills. This is a martial art and like any martial art, getting better requires consistent training and practice. Regular class participation and personal practice can dramatically improve a fighter’s skill level.

Ranks

There are eight ranks which become progressively harder and require more dedication to earn. The highest priority is growth and development in individual fighting ability and team concepts. These skills mature at different speeds for different fighters, so there are no set time periods for advancement. Listed here is what might be expected of an average individual to progress through the ranks. Extremely dedicated fighters may progress more quickly.
  • White – Two months
  • Yellow – One year after assuming the white sash.
  • Brown – One and a half years after earning the yellow sash.
  • Purple – Two years after earning the brown sash.
  • Orange, Red, Green, and Blue – These ranks require leadership abilities that vary too greatly between individuals to be able to give an accurate time frame.

White Sash

The white sash represents a commitment to learning and training. The requirement to wear the white sash includes a willingness to learn, a positive attitude, a desire to take instruction, and the ability to work as a member of a team. Wearing the white sash also requires a commitment to regular practice, class attendance, as well as participation in battles and other group activities.

In order to test for the first rank of white one must have attended class for at least four weeks. The test consists of:
  • Announcing in class a desire to don the white sash and to be a student
  • Knowing the order of the ranks
  • Passing a quiz on the rules of the field
Note: This is the only rank where it completely up to the student to decide when they are ready to test. The commitments made should not be taken lightly. Students should inform the instructor of their desire to test before class so a testing section can be created. This test does not need to be held for the normal testing cycle.

A white sash should focus their training on mastering the basic fighting skills, teamwork, tactics, and control.

Promotion to Yellow Sash:

In order to test for the second rank of yellow one must possess proficiency in Basic Blocks and Strikes, the three thrusts, and basic concepts of teamwork and tactics. The test consists of performing:
  • The first 7 sutras
  • The first form “The Eight”
  • Two step line drills as called out by the testing judges
  • Completion of a written tactical exercise on basic tactical concepts
  • The fighting portion

Yellow Sash

The yellow sash represents basic fighting competence. Yellow sash fighters have learned basic individual fighting skills with the shinai and basic teamwork. They can fight effectively against most fighters most of the time. They can contribute effectively to the plans of their team leader by listening and following the leader’s direction in combat. Yellow sash fighters demonstrate a positive attitude and willingness to get along with the rest of the group.

Yellows are encouraged to start working on a second weapon other than the single shinai to build proficiency in multiple weapons. Working on a second weapon set does not replace the primary importance of improving use of a single shinai. A yellow sash should focus on improving stamina, accuracy, and tactical awareness.

Promotion to Brown Sash:

In order to test for the third rank of brown, one must possess proficiency in The Hundred, a second weapon set, and intermediate concepts of teamwork and tactics. The test consists of performing:
  • The first 14 sutras
  • The first form “The Eight”
  • The second form “The Right Handed Form”
  • Three step line drills as called out by the testing judges
  • Completion of a written tactical exercise on opportunities of situational awareness
  • The fighting portion

Brown Sash

The brown sash represents a solid and effective fighting style. These fighters can fight well with the shinai and with their chosen second weapon set. Brown sashes display intermediate teamwork ability and a solid knowledge of battlefield tactics. They can contribute effectively to the plans of their team leader without direct instruction in the middle of a fight.

Brown sashes are encouraged to help train beginning fighters both in class and individually. This includes but is not limited to basic drills, sword work, and tactics. With leadership approval this is the first rank that may attempt the knight’s test, which is explained later.

A brown sash should focus on improving speed, mobility, and squad leadership and command. They should continue to also work on building proficiency with their second weapon set and should start to work on a third set.

Promotion to Purple Sash:

In order to test for the fourth rank of purple one must possess proficiency in the advanced blocks and strikes, three person drill, a third weapon set, multiple battle formations, and advanced concepts of teamwork and tactics. The test consists of performing:
  • All 21 sutras
  • The first form “The Eight”
  • The second form “The Right Handed Form”
  • Three step line drills as called out by the testing judges
  • Completion of a written tactical exercise on proactive situational awareness
  • The fighting portion with helmets (helmets can be waived by the test conductor)

Purple Sash

The purple sash represents an advanced and effective fighting style. These fighters can fight very well with a single shinai and be a threat with any weapon they pick up. Purple sashes display advanced teamwork ability and battlefield tactics. Purple sashes give good advice when coming up with plans. These fighters are a force on the field not only because of their individual fighting ability, but also because they are able to create situations that give their team an advantage. Purple sashes can contribute effectively to the plans of their team leader by directing others assigned to them.

Purple sashes are expected to help train beginning fighters both in class and individually. The fourth rank of purple is the start of increased responsibilities and may be called on to oversee a class or a field battle on a given day. A purple sash should focus on improving teaching ability, team tactics, and leadership.

Promotion to Orange Sash:

In order to test for the fifth rank of orange one must possess proficiency in team leadership, teaching, and advanced concepts of teamwork and tactics. The test consists of performing:
  • All 21 sutras
  • The first form “The Eight”
  • The second form “The Right Handed Form”
  • Three step line drills as called out by the testing judges
  • Completion of a written tactical exercise dealing with leadership and planning
  • Demonstration of two-on-one fighting
  • The fighting portion with helmets (helmets can be waived by the test conductor)

Orange Sash

The orange sash represents an excellent fighting style and tactical competence. As an individual fighter the orange sash is one of the best fighters in the group. An orange sash is able to work very well as part of a team or as the team leader.

Orange sashes are expected to exercise a leadership role in the group and this is the first officer rank. Orange sashes are expected to be able to oversee regular battles, teach class, handle disputes, set field policy when needed, and support the decisions of other ranking officers. At the discretion of a red sash or higher, orange sash is the lowest rank that can run an independent fighting group. When running their own group, an orange sash may test their fighters up to brown sash at their own discretion and to purple sash with the agreement of a red sash or higher.

Promotion to Red Sash:

In order to test for the sixth rank of red one must demonstrate understanding of group leadership, coordination of multi-group battles or tournaments, and aid with individual and class teaching. The test consists of performing:
  • All 21 sutras
  • The first form “The Eight”
  • The second form “The Right Handed Form”
  • A form developed by the testing candidate as an exhibition of skill
  • Four step line drills as called out by the testing judges
  • Completion of a written tactical exercise dealing with advanced leadership and planning
  • Demonstration of two- and three-on-one fighting
  • The fighting portion with helmets (helmets can be waived by the test conductor)

Red Sash

The red sash represents a superior fighting style, tactical ability and team leading skills. Red sashes can dominate a battlefield. Red sashes use their fighting skill and leadership ability to win battles. Red sashes also run regular battles, classes and work to train up new fighters. They pass on their knowledge and experience to anyone who is willing to learn from them.

Red sashes need to know how to handle problems and how to help prevent and settle conflicts within the group. They need to know how to deal with parents, park officials, law enforcement, and others who have questions or concerns about the organization. Red sashes need to know how to delegate the above tasks and who is proficient in such actions. Most of all, red sashes are people who can be counted on. Red sashes running their own group may test and rank their fighters up to orange sash at their discretion.

Promotion to Green Sash:

There is no test required to transition from red to green and the position is appointed. The main differences between red and green are those of leadership and responsibility, not fighting ability. In order to advance from red to the seventh rank of green, one must show the maturity, responsibility, and dedication needed to run a group.

Green Sash

The green sash is a non-fighting rank above red. Green sashes are able to dominate a battlefield both with individual fighting skills and ability to direct large fighting groups using varied tactics. Green sashes are able to run groups and manage battles between different groups. Green sashes manage and maintain good relations with those inside and outside of the group.

Promotion to the Blue Sash:

The blue sash is another position of management within the ranks and the position is appointed.

Blue Sash

The blue sash is a non-fighting rank above green that represents the top of the organizational hierarchy. The difference between blue and green is one of management ability. The blue sash has the added responsibility of overseeing multiple groups. They may not manage each group directly, but they help maintain good relationships between groups, oversee testing to ensure consistency between fields, and coordinate large events.

Testing

The determination of when an individual is ready to test up to the next rank is decided by the field leader. Orange ranks and above can also recommend fighters for testing up to a level below their own rank. A knight may recommend their apprentice. A fighter may also request to be tested, but they should not be offended if told they are not ready yet.

Testing is held on a regular basis (usually quarterly) or as the need arises. Fighters testing are given adequate notice of the impending test so that they can prepare. All fighters are expected to assist people preparing to test.

For each rank multiple criteria must be met before someone is even allowed to attempt a test. Once these conditions are met the individual testing will be required to perform the necessary forms, drills, information, and fighting in order to pass. Rank is not handed out for “time served” and tests should not be easy. Almost everyone will fail a test at some point, sometimes several in a row. Failing is an important test of character. Someone who fails and redoubles their effort to pass the next time shows dedication and determination.

There are a few ways the fighting portion of the test can be conducted. The fighting portion of testing is detailed here. The method used is determined by the test conductor and field leader.

Knight’s Test

The knight’s test is a challenge one must pass in order to gain the status of “knight.” Only an individual with the capacity, ability, and willingness to assume the training of others can become a knight. There are multiple levels of knight’s status, noted with the same colors as the ranks above, but their responsibilities are the same. In order to earn this responsibility one must have reached the third rank of brown, be willing to teach and mentor other fighters, and get leadership approval before attempting the test. The knight’s status is a serious undertaking and should not be taken lightly, as there are added responsibilities once the test is passed.

The test requires the knight hopeful to beat three people of the same rank at the same time. In the event that only two fighters of the desired rank are able to be found, a single higher rank may be used to conduct the test. For the sake of balance, the higher rank will fight to first blood, meaning any wound will result in death. There should be as many judges as are available. Everyone at least the fifth rank of orange should be a judge, and other judges may be called if necessary. The judges are to remain in the outside circle with enough of them so all angles are viewed. When all four individuals are ready and judges have been assigned, the test conductor will call lay on, and the fight will start. The knight hopeful must defeat all three individuals without dying. Neither side defers limbs. The knight hopeful gets three attempts in a particular testing cycle and may not switch ranks after a level is chosen.

The knight’s test can only take place during normal testing cycles. When requesting a knight’s test ensure the test instructor has at least two weeks of notice of what rank is desired to attempt, so that proper preparations can be made. Fighters who pass their third rank test for brown must wait a full testing cycle before they can attempt this challenge.

If the fighter passes the knight’s test they earn a two foot ribbon the color of the rank tested. The knight is then able to take on an apprentice of a lower rank who will receive direct tutoring. The apprentice will still learn from other sources, but it is the knight’s responsibility to ensure that their apprentice learns all the appropriate material, and nothing is missed or over looked. When testing occurs, the knight will have input on deterring when the apprentice is ready to test. Leadership approval is required before selecting an apprentice. Parental consent is also required if the apprentice is under 18. Once approved and if the apprentice accepts, an announcement is made to the field during class. The knight is to train the apprentice until the apprentice tests one rank higher. At that time the knight and apprentice may renew their status or the knight may select a new apprentice. In the event that either side stops attending, they may approach the leadership to remove the pairing, but this is not a step to take lightly. It is important to fully understand the responsibility of the knight and apprentice relationship.

A knight’s added responsibilities include mentoring and training their apprentice. This means giving them tips, providing extra drills, going over tactics, and giving advice for different situations. Apprentices are not there to run errands, carry things, or get drinks. Once one becomes a knights they are then required to teach and to mentor in order to advance in rank. This is one of the reasons that taking the responsibility of a knight should not be taken lightly. In the event that no suitable apprentice can be found, aiding in the teaching and development of the group as a whole will suffice for this prerequisite.

It is important for an apprentice to have the dedication and drive to want extra training. Know that by becoming an apprentice there are increased expectations, however training with a knight will help an apprentice advance more quickly. Before a fighter seeks to become an apprentice they must be sure that the time and the willing to follow through with the commitment are there. A knight can influence when their apprentice is ready for testing and if an apprentice does not follow the knight’s instruction, it is reasonable for the knight to not let the apprentice test. If a knight is making unreasonable demands notify group leadership immediately, this will not affect progress or advancement.