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When to Disclose Dan Ranking

At what point in a meeting is it appropriate to disclose your dan level or ranking? Assume that you are visiting a Karate instructor for the first time. You will have to introduce yourself and give a brief background. There might be the customary exchange of business cards.

So when do you mention, "and I am a 7th dan" (or whatever rank)?

In my view, you don't. You don't offer that information. You do not include it on your business card. You do not wear it on your shirt or gi. You don't tatoo it on your arm. You don't mention it unless you are asked.

Then, in my view, how you handle the situation depends on who you are meeting. If you are meeting a junior, you might deflect the question. Dan ranking is such a subjective thing. Such things are not very important. You are just a student. That sort of thing.

If you are meeting a senior, I would probably answer frankly. "I am just a student, but was given a Xth dan by Sato Sensei in 1998."

If you are meeting an equal (or about so), it would depend again.

But it is important to remember this: the more quickly and enthusiastically you disclose your rank, the less credible you will seem. This is just my view, but I know many seniors who also feel this way.

Whatever level you might be, the most important thing is to be respectful and to train hard to improve yourself. That's it.

Honestly, I have met people who almost treat their rank as part of their name. "Hi, I am Bob, 7th dan!" I think it is better to simply say, "Hi, I am Bob and I am pleased to meet you."

Just my two cents.


Charles C. Goodin