Menkyo Kaiden is a Japanese term
meaning "license of total tranmission". It is a certificate that is granted by the Ryu, or other organization meaning that
the recipient has learned everything that the organization or Ryu can teach, and is licensed to pass on all aspects of his
In the order Menkyo system of licenses and certificates that predates the more
prevalent Kyu/Dan )dan-i) system of colored belts created by Jigoro Kano in the 19th century for Kodokan Judo, the menkyo
kaiden is typically the highest level of license that exists, and it often, but not always, the de facto successor to the
Soke of the Ryu. Some schools that use the dani system retain the menkyo kaiden as a method of denoting a successor to the
head of the school.
Soke: is a Japanese
title that means "Headmaster" (or sometimes translated as "head of the family" or even "Grandmaster", the latter usage is
a common Western misconceeption). It can mean one who is the leader of any school or the master of a style, but it is commonly
used as the hightest level Japanese martial arts title, referring to the singular leader of a school or a martial arts Ryu.
A soke is often mistakenly used as a founder of a karate Ryu. The Soke
is ultimate authority within their karate Ryu and have all final discretion and authority regarding promotion, curriclum,
doctrine, and disciplinary actions. A soke has all authority to issue a menkyo kaiden certificate indicating that a practitioner
has mastered all aspects of his Ryu of karate.
© 2013, Avelino R. Mayoral