Earning a legitimate 15th degree black belt is a feat which requires a lifetime of dedication. First, you must study within an art that actually offers this degree. Many martial arts do not offer black belts at this high of rank. One of the only major martial disciplines which does is that of the Bujinkan. You must also realise that reaching this type of rank is not something a hobby martial artist is going to be capable of. This type of achievement requires a lifelong dedication to the art.
- Skill level:
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Find a Bujinkan school in your area that is accepting new students.
Train regularly in your art at all the scheduled classes that you are able to attend. Pursue solo training and practice your craft relentlessly, even while not at the dojo. The skill necessary for this type of advancement will not be gained by just training for a few hours twice a week.
Ask your teacher for help testing for the lower belts as quickly as possible. Obviously you must attain the skills worthy of that belt, but if you work hard, some teachers will help you move through the base ranks quicker than more casual practitioners.
Study the books and literature associated with your art. Ask your instructor to recommend some reading material. Focus on the works by Masaaki Hatsumi, the head of the Bujinkan as of 2011. Achieving the highest ranks requires a great deal of knowledge about the history and philosophy of the art as well as the physical techniques.
Find extra opportunities to advance your training. Travel to Japan or to training seminars where the best masters and teach. Train with them at every opportunity. Meet and train with Hatsumi if at all possible, as he or his eventual successor will require personal knowledge of you in order to award you a 15th dan.
Find a sponsor within the Bujinkan to be allowed to start teaching. At the rank of shodan, or 1st degree black belt, you can apply to be a junior teacher. Once you reach the 5th degree, Godan, you can apply for a full teacher's license and open your own school. You must do this to progress further.
Focus on giving back to your community, your students and to the art. Only through complete dedication of self and through selflessness will you be awarded these honorary high ranks.
Train with Masaaki Hatsumi at every chance you get. The ranks from 11th to 15th dan can only be awarded personally from Hatsumi. Do not concern yourself with achieving rank. Instead, focus on always learning more and giving more to the art. Hatsumi or his eventual successor will promote you to the final rank once he feels you are ready.
Tips and warnings
- Don't focus only on achieving the belt of a certain degree. This is a form of ambition that true martial arts masters and grandmasters don't exhibit. Instead, focus on making yourself the best practitioner of the art, the best person possible and seek self-awareness always.
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