Bunbu Ryodo - translates to "educated & sophisticated warrior", coined "Pen & the Sword" in the West
see related article by Sensei Greg Story, a resident of Japan.
Student's over the age of 12 in certain styles within the Traditional Japanese Karate Network, who are testing for a certified Dan rank, are required to sit an open-book theory exam (ryu-ha translates as "styles" or "schools of thought" in Japanese; check with your sensei to see if you are one of these ryu-ha). Of course, the theory test is only part of the process, the major component of your Dan award is the physical belt test day - performed in front of a panel of sensei.
The theory exam content is pulled from our text "Karate & Bunkai Technique relative to Street Fighting Statistics & Medical Outcomes". The test may also pull from the 5th kyu test manual (which you most likely already own). The textbook and corresponding test, cover history, street injury rates, philosophy and curriculum rationale (the textbook can be purchased from this website here). The below links allow students to access their tests which must be completed prior to the physical belt test day (your results will stay in our central database and also be forwarded to your sensei).
As discussed further below, it is an open book exam and has a 90% score needed for a pass. Most questions are multi-choice, and there are just a few written paragraph style answers. When you start the test, do the exam in one sitting and expect it to take around 1-2 hours (depending on how much you have perused the sections highlighted for your rank before the exam). The point in doing the test is to cover certain core topics to fighting and budo philosophy, think about them and then select a best answer. It is the thinking about the topics that matters, it is not a memorization test.
The cost to sit the test is $10 and after paying through the below link, you access a download document that gives you the link to perform the test on our website.
What happens if I do not get 90% & what does that mean?
As soon as the test is completed the system automatically sends the spreadsheet of the recorded answers and result to your direct sensei. If the score is not 90% you must sit down with your sensei and go through the incorrect answers to be sure that together you have thought about that topic in more detail. Once this is done with your sensei you are considered to have passed.
Shodan test enrolment link:
The content focuses on Sections A7, A9-A16, B4, D10, F & Pages 75-89, 99 from the 321 page text book "Karate & Bunkai technique Selection Given Street Fighting Statistics & Medical Outcomes".
Access Shodan theory test $15...
As a further supplement to the Shodan physical expectations outlined on our Dan standards page, your instructor will work with your test panel to nail down your test curriculum, and at least for those testing for shodan or nidan in the lineage of Jason Armstrong Shihan, you must pull one kata from the following kata list in addition to Pinan Nidan: Seinchin, Aananko, Matsukaze, Sochin. The bunkai requirement is listed in the textbook/curriculum book: Curriculum design, Karate & Street Fighting Statistics...
Nidan test enrolment link:
The content focuses on Sections A, B & C of the textbook "Karate & Bunkai technique Selection Given Street Fighting Statistics & Medical Outcomes". The test theme for Nidan has a strong emphasis on self defense/attacker psychology.
As a further supplement to the Nidan physical expectations outlined on our Dan standards page, your instructor will work with your test panel to nail down your test curriculum and at least for those testing for shodan or nidan in the lineage of Jason Armstrong Shihan, you must pull one kata from the following kata list in addition to Pinan Shodan: Seinchin, Aananko, Matsukaze, Sochin, Basadai, Gassho, Sanseiru, Niseishi, Rohai.
Functionally the bunkai requirement is as listed in the textbook/curriculum book: Curriculum design, Karate & Street Fighting Statistics... On a test day, prospective Nidan(s) should know the whole kata's bunkai and will be asked to perform any 2 bunkai by the panel (this is a minimum, the panel may elect to go deeper than 2 bunkai questions if not satisfied with the first 2 demonstrations).
- a free Video & Article resource