The Hokushin Ittō-ryū Hyōhō is structured in three levels:
- Shoden 初伝 (begin of transmission / novice)
- Chūden 中伝 (midway of transmission / advanced student)
- Okuden 奥伝 (end of transmission / master)
Like many other koryū (schools founded before 1868) the Hokushin Ittō-ryū kept its old grading system. There is no modern dan (or colored belt) system in the school. A student can only receive a grading after mastering the shoden level. This means that all the basic techniques have been studied. Gradings are awarded as makimono (scrolls) and inka-jō (traditional diplomas).
If a student has mastered the entire technical curriculum of the school he will receive the chū-mokuroku (menkyo) scroll from the sōke. With the complete transmission of all the secrets of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū , the dai-mokuroku (menkyo-kaiden) scroll will be awarded. This is the highest rank of the school and certifies that the individual is a full master of the tradition.
The traditional five scrolls/ ranks of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū in correct order are:
- Kirigami [剪紙]
- Hatsu-Mokuroku [初目録]
- Kajō-Mokuroku / Seigan-denjū [箇条目録 / 星眼伝授]
- Chū-Mokuroku / Menkyo [中目録 / 免許]
– Dai-Mokuroku / Menkyo-Kaiden [大目録 / 免許皆伝]
Next to those gradings there also exists the so called naginata-mokuroku [長刀目録] which requires complete mastery of all naginatajutsu techniques of the school. Normally the naginata-mokuroku is awarded together with the chū-mokuroku.