Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Grades and steps

[kyū/dan system]
Fontainebleau Toyota-豊田
—7級 [7-kyuu] —4a — a
6級 4b b
5級 5a
4級 5c c
3級 6a+
2級 6b+ d
1級 6c+
初段 [1-dan] 7a+ e
二段[2-dan] 7b+ f
三段[3-dan] 7c+ g
四段[4-dan] 8a+  
五段[5-dan] 8b+  
六段[Wheel of life]    

The Japanese system for grading boulder problems originated in Ogawayama. It's based on the same principle as the kyū/dan system first applied to martial arts by Kano Jigoro, the founder of judo; so if you have flailed about with arms, legs, or sticks, all dressed up in a pyjamas you know how it goes: 10-kyū or jūkyū, the tenth grade, demands the least amount of skill. As your skill progresses you pass 9-kyū, 8-kyū, and down to 1-kyū. After that you reach shodan, the first dan, or literally the “first step”. This is where you get a black belt – and serious training is supposed to commence. In bouldering shodan starts around the 7a+/V7 mark, and it may be possible to reach the dizzying heights of the sixth step, rokudan, by climbing “Wheel of Life”, 8c+ on the Fontainebleau scale.

Or so I've been told.

Included is my best guess on a conversion table, based on personal experience and input from my betters. Unfortunately, I've never been to Hueco, so for a comparision with the Hueco-scale you have to find information elsewhere.

Apart from the kyū/dan system there is an other system in place in Japan for grading boulder-problems: the Toyota a-b-c grades. I hesitate to call it a major grading system since it only seems to be in use in the Toyota area. Toyota is a massive bouldering area though, with a history that predates a lot of the bouldering areas worldwide, so it would be silly not to include it in my table.

ダイヤモンドスラブ, originally uploaded by Jonas Wiklund.

Diamond slab, Toyota grade d.

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