All tests for mastership titles are conducted personally by Grandmaster Tanemura. Typically, the test is conducted at the Honbu Dojo in Japan and is witnessed by the Shihan (Soke’s highest level students) to ensure authenticity. Each mastership title has a corresponding set of qualifications that the student must first satisfy and each title also has its own test.
The following are the official titles used in the Genbukan and KJJR as well as their prerequisites and corresponding test.
“Line up Master” or “Journeyman Master”
Qualifications : 4th dan Ninpo, 4th dan Jujutsu, and Shoden Menkyo in Asayama Ichiden Ryu.
Test : The student sits in seiza (traditional kneeling posture) facing Soke with eyes open, calmly awaiting Soke’s cut. Soke assumes Daijodan no kamae with a shinai (bamboo sword) and when he feels the student is ready, he executes his choice of cut. Soke selects which cut he will perform during the test to ensure authenticity. The student must completely escape without being hit.
“Master of Teaching”
Qualifications : 5th dan Ninpo, and 5th dan Jujutsu.
Test : The student sits in seiza facing away from Soke with eyes closed, calmly awaiting Soke’s cut. Soke assumes Daijodan no kamae behind the student with a shinai and when he feels the student is ready, he cuts makko giri (straight down) without issuing a verbal kiai. The student must “hear” the spiritual kiai and completely escape without being hit.
Qualifications : 7th dan Ninpo and Jujutsu.
Test : The student sits in seiza facing away from Soke with eyes closed in meditation. Soke assumes Daijodan no kamae behind the student with a Shinken (real sword). When he feels the student is ready, Soke emits a spiritual kiai (non-verbal) and cuts makko giri (straight down). The student must completely escape without being hit.
Qualifications : 8th or 9th dan Ninpo and Jujutsu.
Test : The student sits in seiza calmly meditating. Soke silently enters the dojo with a Shinken (real sword) and without a kiai, cuts makko giri (vertically), then do giri (horizontally). Soke sometimes changes the cut order to maintain authenticity. The student who evades both cuts calmly and without hesitation has passed the test. A student who passes this test is considered a first class martial artist (Bujun).
* Note: A Shihan and the Shihan group are different. The Shihan group is Soke’s highest level instructors (Kyoshi level or higher).
Qualifications : Soke’s choice. Only one student may pass this test.
Test : This test takes place outdoors in a natural environment such as a forest or field. The student remains standing and in a state of spiritual calm. Soke also stands in a state of spiritual calm with a Shinken, and when he feels unity with the divine spirit, he will issue two cuts; the first a tsuki (stab), the second unknown. The student must evade the first cut and smoothly catch the blade so the second cut does not come. The student who passes this test will be made Shihan-cho.
The Shinken used for this test will be of high quality steel; hand made, and will be pure, having never drawn blood.
Until a student passes this test, everyone has a chance to become Soke’s chosen successor. Whoever passes this test is thereafter considered to be a true martial arts child of Grandmaster Shoto Tanemura.