As mentioned elsewhere the Dan levels are the martial arts equivalent to “black belt.”  In fact the terminology throughout JKA testing and competitions have direct relationship to those used in karate, judo, etc.  For example all Dan levels and Kyu levels use the same words in the JKA as in many Japanese martial arts.

The following chart shows the progression through the JKA Dan levels.  At first glance you may see tricks that wouldn’t necessarily be considered “advanced” by some.  Much of the achievement of the Dan levels concentrate on internal achievements not just completing a trick.  For example while a good part of each level focus on consistency in performing a given trick it’s also about mastery over oneself.  Case in point 1000 Moshikame, the individual trick is not particularly difficult however the process it takes to achieve 1000 iterations at a given speed with only one attempt in front of judges and your peers is the accomplishment.  Dedication, persistence, and patience are all needed to be able to pass the “simple” trick’s level. This is a perfect example of the embodiment of the concept of Kendama-dō (けん玉道) covered elsewhere on this site (LINK).

Trick table for Dan level (high skill level)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Trick (Waza)

Level(Dan) ↓
Around the World
(Seikai Isshu)
Light house
Slip on Stick
(Kensaki Suberi)
Earth turn
(Chikyu Mawashi)
Falling in
Reverse Swing In
(Ura Furiken)
Around the cosmos
(Uchu Isshu)
Hanging spike
(Tsurushi Tomeken)
Jumping stick
1-Turn airplane
(Ikkaiten Hikoki)
1-Turn Lighthouse
(Ikkaiten Tōdai)
Slip grip special
(Suberidome Gokui)
Bird Over the Valley
(Uguisu no Taniwatari)
Lighthouse flip
(Tōdai Tonbogaeri)
Hanging 1-Turn airplane
(Tsurushi Ikkaiten Hikoki)
2-Turn lighthouse
(Nikaiten Tōdai)
2 Free tricks Time trial B
(Taimu Kyoki B)
4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1

5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 2 2


5 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 1 1

120sec 500

6 6 5 5 4 4 4 4 2 2

60sec 1000

6 6 6 6 4 4 3 3 2 2 1

8 8 8 8 6 6 5 5 4 4 3

7th Dan and 8th Dan: Instead of an examination, a board of JKA judges evaluates each candidate’s continued involvement with Kendama and Kendama instructor activities as well as each candidate’s skill level – which must be very high and original. The 7th Dan and 8th Dan rank is approved based on paragraph 16 of the JKA official ranking regulation.
9th Dan and 10th Dan: Instead of an examination, the JKA administration evaluates each candidate’s activities in promoting Kendama awareness and contribution to the development of the JKA. The 9th Dan and 10th Dan rank is approved based on paragraph 17 of the JKA official ranking regulation.


  • Must qualify at each Dan level before eligible to take examination for the next higher Dan rank
  • Minimum time in rank before competing for next higher Dan rank:
    1. 1 Dan through 5 Dan – at least one month
    2. 6 Dan and above – at least one year
  • The tests must be taken using an official JKA Kendama with a certified (Nintei) seal.
  • Only the certified JKA examiner may perform skill level examinations.

For 1-4 Dan, three examiners with 2 Kyu license or higher (exceptions may be considered depending on the availability of the examiners)

For 5 Dan, three examiners with 2 Kyu license or higher, including one examiner with 1 Kyu license at least.

For 6 Dan, five examiners with 2 Kyu license or higher, including one examiner with A Kyu (A Grade) license at least

  • Tricks must be performed in numerical order  
  • Each trick may be attempted up to 10 times but must be successfully performed at least the designated number of times shown in the table.
  • Moshikame (1 Dan through 4 Dan): Perform moshikame without failure at least the number of times shown in the table at a rate of at least 135 times per minute. Only one attempt allowed.

(additional detail about Moshikame: Example testing for 1 Dan and pass 1000 you never have to do MK again, MK is the starting trick for all levels that require it)

•Time trial B (3 Dan through 5 Dan): In the order listed below, successfully perform all tricks in time trial B at least once within specified time limit. (May attempt each trick as many times as necessary but must successfully complete all 10 tricks within the time limit specified.) Two attempts allowed to complete time trial B within the specified time limit. Tricks must be completed in order but you do not need to restart from the beginning if you miss a trick in the middle of the series.

6th Dan: Free tricks, Instead of time trial B, successfully demonstrate two tricks of the technical level suitable for the 6 Dan ranking. No time limitation. Up to 10 attempts are permitted to successfully perform each trick. After skill examination, a board of JKA judges evaluates each candidate’s continued involvement with Kendama.

Time trial B: 

  1. Swing candle 
  2. Around the prefecture
  3. Around Japan (2 times)
  4. Around the world (2 times)
  5. Around the Europe
  6. Earth turn
  7. Bird – spike
  8. Jumping stick
  9. 1-Turn airplane
  10. Falling in

Key Points: 

Examinee must successfully complete all ten tricks in order listed at least once within a specified time limit. Examinee can attempt each trick any number of times until they are successful, and then move on to the next trick without penalty.

Dan Level Certificate

This covers many of the aspects of the JKA’s testing system.  Thank you for taking the time to read through the information.  If you have other questions feel free to contact us.

焦らず (aserazu)
Never Rush

慌てず (awatezu)
Never Panic

諦めず (akiramezu)
Never Give Up