The JKS Karate Certificates Explained
Well I have been asked a couple of times with regard to both Kyu and Dan grade certificates, so I thought I would write a post on it.
I will deal in particular with JKS certificates but many martial arts follow a similar format.
|JKS Kyu grade certificate|
So starting at the top of the certificate and working down. 証 = sho meaning proof. This is the first of three kanji that make up the word shomeisho meaning certificate.
There is then a space for the students name to be entered followed by 殿 = dono, this is a polite form of name suffix that might be used in a formal letter, similar to Mr. but is not gender specific.
Next is a long line of kana commencing, 右者 = migi-mono or yusha. Well you have probably heard migi used in the dojo it means right (hidari means left), mono means person. So together they literally mean the person on the right. Don't be too concerned with a word by word translation, we will look at the whole at the end. The kanji are also the same as the first and last kanji from Yudansha 有段者 meaning person of black belt rank, yuu meaning have and sha meaning person. Next comes 審査 = shin-sa which means examination, this is followed by の = No, which is a particle that indicates possession. After this is 結果 = kekka which means result. When we line up for our rei in our dojo, the high grades are on the left, but in the LKA for example the high grades are on the right, different dojo, different traditions.... I believe the reference to the person on the right is a reference to your superiors (the ones on the right) that have undertaken the examination and your result is .....
Then there is another space for your grade to be entered, followed by four more kanji. The first is 級 = Kyu, the next is に = ni which is another particle that indicates a person or thing is "in, at, on", the last bit is 進む = susumu which means progress. So again looking at the whole, you have achieved whatever kyu grade, you have made some progress, but there is more progress to make so keep training hard. (The english words on the dan certificate conclude "We expect a further progress in skill and character building in the future", it does not say this word for word but this is what is meant)
Next comes three kanji with spaces after them, this is where the day, month, year is entered.日= nichi meaning day, 月 = gatsu meaning month and 年 = nen meaning year.
The date is followed by our association name and its hanko (red seal stamp). The full name for the JKS is Japan Karate Shotorenmei, renmei translates to league, but on the kyu grade certificate is a slightly different ending. 曰本 = Nihon (Japan), 空手 = karate, 松涛 = shoto, 会= kai which means association, this is a shortened version of kyokai, but they both represent the same meaning.
Lastly is the space for the name of the grading examiner.
|Above: JKS Dan grade certificate|
When writing formally the Japanese write in columns, reading from right to left, so lets start in the top right hand corner where there is a partial red stamp above a vertical line of kanji. The stamp is an authentication stamp, half the stamp is on the certificate and the remaining part of the stamp is in the JKS records. If you put the certificate next to the record they make a complete stamp and this verifies that the certificate is authentic. Next the kanji, if you look closely the top and bottom kanji are printed and the others are hand brushed. 第 = dai and 号= go, dia is the ordinal number prefix and go is the suffix, together they mean number and usually surround a serial number, as is the case here. You may recognise the word dia from Asai Sensei's basic series of kata dai ichi to dai yon, the third kata, dia san became better known as jo no kata, anyway back to certificates. Between dia and go are the kanji for a series of numbers 一 = 1, 二 = 2, 三 = 3,四 = 4, 五 = 5, 六 = 6, 七 = 7, 八 = 8, 九 = 9 and zero is written as usual (you can also pronounce "zero" in Japanese as it is borrowed) so on Rebecca's certificate it reads 第一0四五二号 = serial number 10342, this will correspond to the registration number written in English towards the bottom of the certificate.
Just to the left of the registration number is a large red hanko stamp of the JKS and below the hanko is the large kanji 証 = sho meaning proof, as explained in the kyu certificate above.
The next column to the left appears your full name, your christian followed by your surname, again this will have been hand brushed.
Next comes two columns of kanji, seven, then six, the top kanji on the second column will be hand brushed, the rest will be printed. This is similar to the long phrase on the kyu certificate.
貴殿 = kiden meaning you, the first kanji is 貴 = ki meaning precious, the second kanji is 殿 = dono, as in the kyu certificate explained above. The next bit is also as the kyu certificate 審査 = shin-sa which means examination, this is followed by の = No, which is a particle that indicates possession. After this is 結果 = kekka which means result.
Anyway hopefully that has answered any queries you may have had regarding your certificates.