Dan-to-kyū (n.) 1. Grade and rank; the system of hierarchy used in Kendō to indicate levels of ability. (The first martial art to adopt the dan system was Kodōkan Jūdō when the first shodan was issued in 1883 (Meiji 16).  The Kyū system was used by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police in Kendō training, and formally adopted in 1885 (Meiji 18). The first Kendō use of the dan system was a Tokyo Normal College in 1908 (Meiji 41). The Dan-Kyū system has been used in Japan since 1917 (Taisho 6) when the Dai Nippon Butokukai adopted the system. That system, still in use today, designates ten dan levels and six kyū levels.)[1]

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  1. Japanese-English Kendo Dictionary, KENDO America