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Japanese name
Kanji: 免許
Hiragana: めんきょ

Menkyo (免許 ?) is a Japanese term meaning "license". It can refer to a license system of practitioners of various Japanese arts dating back to the 8th century.


License System

Although it is most commonly thought to be used for the martial arts, it can also be used for other arts such as painting (sumi-e), tea ceremony (chado), flower arranging or calligraphy (shodo).

Different koryū use different license; one outline is[1]:

  • okuiri : enter into art.
  • mokuroku : certificate, and entered into official rolls.
  • shomokuroku
  • gomokuroku
  • menkyo: License.
  • menkyo kaiden: Around thirty years experience.

Comparison to the ranking System Dan'i

There are two parallel systems in Japanese martial arts or ways: menkyo and kyu-dan.[1] Classical schools (koryū) usually use the menkyo system while schools which base their practise on budō forms ("path, or way") typically use the kyū/dan system created by Jigoro Kano in the late nineteenth century for Kodokan judo.

There still existing classical schools (koryū) within martial arts which use the menkyo system.

Menkyo Kaiden

Menkyo kaiden (免許皆伝 ?), (めんきょかいでん) is a Japanese term meaning "license of total transmission." It is a license that is granted by a school, koryū or organization meaning that the recipient has learned everything and pass on all aspects of his/her training within the koryū or organization.[1]

In the menkyo system of licenses, the menkyo kaiden is the highest level of license that exists under the menkyo system. Advancement of license is not determined by years spent learning, but how well one masters the discipline. However, the transition from menkyo to kaiden require around thirty years experience. A holder of menkyo kaiden is often, but not always, the de facto successor to the sōke of the koryū.



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