Fluid Adaption

Ranks, Titles & Honour Grades

The principle aim of Fluid Adaption training is to engage in practice that will facilitate successful adaption in both combat and life.  Ranks and titles therefore generally indicate the progress of a practitioner towards an ever expanding ability to adapt in different spheres of martial arts practice and in everyday life.  In considering the different ways adaption is expressed, Fluid Adaption makes the following distinctions with respect to ranks and titles.

  • Rank: indicates over-all martial arts abilities including combative skills and mental abilities (e.g. fortitude, intent, control). 
  • Teaching Title: indicates the one’s demonstrated ability in the teaching and knowledge of Fluid Adaption, and as generally the quality of their being a role model for others to follow.
  • Honour Grades: signposts the stage of the journey that an individual martial artist is on relevant to their leadership role within the organisation of Fluid Adaption.  

Ranking System

The black belt ranking system used in Fluid Adaption is used to measure progress and to provide feedback and incentives in training.   As typical in the martial arts, the black belt ranking system of Fluid Adaption includes grades from white to black belt with 10 full black belt degrees.  In between the black belt degree’s there are half steps or probationary grades that are also awarded.


Normally ranks are awarded after a student successfully passes a test or grading for rank.  Ranks may also be awarded according to past experience and/or time on rank, especially when their extenuating circumstances necessitating this (e.g. advancing age, disease, or chronic injury).  Experienced martial artists joining Fluid Adaption are assessed for a period of approximately 6-12 months before being given a Fluid Adaption rank, teaching title, or honour grade. 

Colour Belt Grades:

  • White Belt
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Blue Belt
  • Green Belt
  • Brown Belt
  • First Degree Black Belt (Probationary)


Black Belt Levels (Degrees):

  • First Degree Black Belt
  • Second Degree Black Belt
  • Third Degree Black Belt
  • Fourth Degree Black Belt
  • Fifth Degree Black Belt
  • Sixth Degree Black Belt
  • Seventh Degree Black Belt
  • Eighth Degree Black Belt
  • Ninth Degree Black Belt
  • Tenth Degree Black Belt 

Stages of Development

The Fluid Adaption grading system charts a path for the lifelong learning that embodies the Fluid Adaption principles for adaption across the continuum from order to chaos and guides students towards the realisation of the Zen state of ‘no-mind - fluid body’ in practice and life.  The grades are broadly organised around the three stages of developmental awaking:



Mind over body

Learning of martial arts skills & mindfulness of intrapersonal relationships

Grades from White Belt to Probationary 1st Degree Black Belt



Body over mind

Selected strategic contextual application of martial arts skills & mindfulness of interpersonal relationships

Full 1st Degree Black Belt to 5th Degree Black Belt



No mind-Fluid Body

Fluid adaption in everyday life & mindfulness of ecological relationships

6th Degree Black Belt to 10the Degree Black Belt



Description of BlackBelt Levels

The following descriptions provide a general guide as to the developmental task of a student on the Warrior’s Path over the 10 degrees of Black Belt.


Shodan – 1st Degree Black Belt


Quietly confident, emotionally balanced and aware of one’s physicality and sureness of action.

Nidan – 2nd Degree Black Belt


Fluid adaptation to change

Sandan – 3rd Degree Black Belt


Clarity of mind with a passionate, forceful expression of energy

Yondan – 4th Degree Black Belt


An open-minded attitude and carefree feeling expressed through one’s ability grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement

Godan – 5th Degree Black Belt


Creative, spontaneous adaptation not mediated by thought or physical senses.

Rokudan & Sichidan - 6th & 7th Degrees Black Belt

 ‘Tai Chi’


Awareness of the opposites in their state of constant change and flux

Fluid adaption as everyday life

Hachidan & Kudan 8th & 9th Degrees Black Belt

 ‘Wang Chi’


Separation and holding of the opposites in a state of tension

Enlightenment in everyday life

Judan - 10th Degree – Black Belt

 ‘Wu Chi’


Transcendence of the opposites and return to the natural state of nothingness

Nothingness in everyday life



Titles & Honour Grades


Titles and Honour Grades have been awarded in the martial arts since ancient times.  They have been used to acknowledge rank, station or status.  Ranks and Titles/Honour Grades are considered separately. 


Teaching Titles

Teaching titles listed below, while usually given at the requirements associated with teach title in the table below, this is only a guide.  Rank is mainly used to indicate “physical” competency, skill, time in grade, etc., teaching titles on the other hand focus on skills related to teaching and leadership.  Teaching titles are awarded after observing a person's martial arts skills, his/her ability in teaching and understanding of martial arts and most importantly their function as a role model of skill and character.


The following are the teaching titles awarded in Fluid Adaption:

Sempai Instructor - Usually awarded to students at or near to the rank of probationary black belt who demonstrate a solid foundation of martial arts skill and show qualities of character related to being a warrior.  In terms of teaching, Sempai are role models for other students in attitude and effort, with the demonstrated ability to lead sections of a class.

Dai Sempai Senior Instructor - Dai Sempai is awarded at 1st degree black belt or above to Sempai who demonstrate a solid base of fighting skill, the capacity to persevere under pressure, and a passion for continuous improvement in all aspects of the martial arts.  They are typically the hardest working students of martial arts clubs, accepting tasks that require sustained effort and leadership skills, never shirking their responsibilities to the group, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that a club and martial arts events runs well.   

Sensei Teacher - The title of Sensei is usually awarded at full 2nd Degree black belt or above to Dai Sempai who have taken on the role of primary instructor at a martial arts club, and who have demonstrated their ability in both running a martial arts club and developing well rounded students..  The term Sensei literally means “one who has gone before,” and implies a close bond between a student and their teacher.

Renchi Master - The title of Renchi is awarded to Sensei who are 3rd Degree black belt or above and a minimum age of 30 years, for expert teaching and demonstrated self mastery.  Within Fluid Adaption Renchi may be assistants to a Kyoshi, responsibly for running a section of the organisation. 

Shihan Master Instructor - The title of Shihan is awarded to Renchi who are model instructors and who have demonstrated their willingness to take on positions of leadership and responsibility within the broader organisation of Fluid Adaption.  Typically a Shihan will have responsibility for a number of martial arts clubs, each under a Sensei. This title is awarded at 4th Degree black belt or above, minimum age of 35 years.

Kyoshi Master Teacher - The "Kyo" in Kyoshi means "professor" or "philosophy". Therefore, Kyoshi equals a professor capable of teaching the philosophy of the martial arts. Kyoshi are teachers of Renchi (masters), with broad leadership responsible for ensuring the quality of martial arts practice in Fluid Adaption.  The title of Kyoshi is usually awarded at 6th Degree black belt or above, minimum age of 45 years, in recognition as being a knowledgeable person in the art of Fluid Adaption.

Hanshi Teacher of Teachers - This is the highest level of teaching title awarded in Fluid Adaption.  The title of Hanshi is awarded to Kyoshi of excellent character and reputation, who have made a significant contribution to the martial arts.  Usually awarded at 8th Degree Black belt or above, and at a minimum age of 55 years and indicates that the person is a model teacher for others to follow in both martial arts and life in general.


Honour Grades                             

Honour grades acknowledge maturation of the martial arts student both personally and organisationally, and in part reflects the path walked by Sensei Bayliss in his own martial arts journey and broadly based on the Senjo (Battle Field Strategy) concept of Zen Do Kai.

As pre-requisite to awarding honour grade in Fluid Adaption is the acknowledgement of a student’s development towards recognition as a ‘Bushi’ or ‘warrior’.  For this reason honour grades are not awarded until a student has been awarded the minimum teaching title of Dai Sempai, with subsequent honour grades dependant in part on achievement of comparable teaching titles.   

Building on this foundation of warrior hood, honour grades acknowledge individual growth in terms of organisational power and contribution to the martial arts.  This can be either the growth of internal power associated with a warrior on a solo path seeking their own self-enlightenment and contributing this knowledge back to the broader Fluid Adaption Organisation; or externally within their role as teachers and leaders growing and building the organisation. 


The following honour grades recognise the development of external power

Daimyo Warlord - The honour grade of Daimyo is awarded to Bushi who established a strong martial arts club with a foundation group of black belts.  A Daimyo may select a Family Crest or Mon to represent their clan.

Dai Daimyo Great Warlord - The honour grade of Dai Daimyo is awarded to Daimyo who having established a strong club with many black belts, also actively contributes to the leadership and development of the organisation.  The honour grade of Daimyo may also be awarded to Diamyo whom in turn have black belts that gone on to achieve the honour grade of Daimyo themselves.  

Shogun General - The honour grade of Shogun is awarded to Dai Daimyo accept significant leadership roles that support to the ongoing growth and development of the organisation (e.g. growing membership base, quality and development of martial arts practice).  The honour grade of Shogun may also be awarded to Dai Diamyo whom in turn have black belts that gone on to achieve the honour grade of Dai Daimyo themselves.  


These honour grades recognise the development of internal (spiritual) power

Ronin Masterless Warrior - This honour grade is awarded to Bushi who are breaking away from an established system as they seek to explore the martial arts in order to find answers to questions of meaning.  This process of personal exploration leads to a broader view of the martial arts and towards attaining a greater level of personal fulfilment and authenticity in their expression of the martial arts and life in general.

Yamabushi Warrior-Monk - The honour grade of Yamabushi is awarded to Ronin who during have become spiritual awakened during their search and as a result have insight into the essence of the martial arts.  Infused with this spiritual vest, Yamabushi typically challenge the assumptions of established martial arts systems, and may go onto to establish their own system of martial arts. 

Meijin Wisdom - It is expected that Ronin and Yamabushi will often exist on the fringe of Fluid Adation as an organisation.  This separation enables these Bushi the opportunity to develop unique understanding and insight into the nature of martial arts and life.  The honour grade of Meijin is awarded to Yamabushi who has returned to within the organisation of Fluid Adaption and who now share the wisdom of their experience and help grow the martial art of Fluid Adaption forward.


These honour grades recognise the organisational leadership and integration:

Hatamoto Most Trusted - This honour grade is awarded to Bushi of any rank or title who have the trust of the Soke and report directly to the Soke on all matters.  Hatamoto may hold significant leadership roles in Fluid Adaption and in the absence of the Soke, may have delegated authority to act on the Soke’s behalf.  Hatamoto typically have the quality of balance in the character and able to blend spiritual wisdom with insight and exceptional leadership. 

Soke Founder/Family Head - This is the title is awarded to Bushi within Fluid Adaption who is recognised as the leader of an established family or clan and who take on a significant leadership role in organisation as a whole.