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The Few, The Proud

The Sanbukan Dojo, like most other martial arts schools, has multiple belt ranking levels or KYU for students to mark their achievements with. Yoshinkan Aikido has 8 KYU levels before the rank of SHODAN (pronounced Show Don) or 1st Degree Black Belt. You begin your study as an 8th KYU (White Belt) and with each test you proceed to 7th KYU, 6th, etc. and finally after spending time at 1st KYU you are eligible to test for your Black Belt. There is a set syllabus in place containing techniques required for testing at every level.


The length of time to achieve a Black Belt varies greatly from one school to another. In most Yoshinkan schools you can earn your Shodan in 3-4 years.  That is training 3 times a week at least. When training in Japan some people have received Shodan at the end of 1 year.  Thus promoting many people to Shodan annually is not uncommon for most schools.

That is not the case with the Sanbukan Dojo under Mits Yamashita Shihan.  The typical person can earn their Shodan in approximately 9-10 years. In fact, in the 50+ years that Yamashita Shihan has been teaching, there have only been 26 people who have accomplished it. Their names are listed below:

David Vaden
John Pitzer
Cedric Adams
Rita Vaden
Tony Overturf
Larry Jones (Yondan)
Terry Hart (Sandan)

Bill Bobinsky
Johann Hellmansberger (Sandan)

Tory Web

Steve Gilley
Kathy Kuhns

Steve Miranda (Nanadan)
Carol Dressler
Dr. Dan Ahern
Pete Paredes (Nidan)
Bill Shank (Nidan)
Berry Burrt (Nidan)

Gary Abrahano (Nidan)

Bernardo Mares
Micheal Jackson
Jeremy Johnston
Stephanie DeLange
Toru Hashinokuchi (Nidan)
Gilbert Rodriguez
Patrick Reed (Nidan)

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