Can "un-guru-ing" items slow down your progress?

Normally you need to guru radicals and kanji to unlock items that are associated with them. Guru radical → new Kanji; guru kanji → new vocabulary.

I’ve progressed a bit in WaniKani and I’m starting to get meanings and readings wrong every now and then. It annoys me, but at least it’s generally the vocabulary that I mess up. So I think “well at least it won’t slow my progress down in the long run”.

However, I was wondering, what if you already guru’d a kanji like 牛 and you are right before the next level with vocab that contains that kanji, but then in a new review you forget the on’yomi reading, get the item wrong and it gets degraded to apprentice. Will you still get to learn the new vocab right away as soon as you level up since you at least guru’d the associated kanji once, or do the items always have to be guru or higher the moment the vocab could be available?

I usually learn new items in groups of 10 to 30 and I don’t like having a single new item flying around, isolated from the other items on that level. I didn’t find anything in the FAQ so I wanted to ask here. :slightly_smiling_face:


This is what people regularly refer to as leeches I believe, I’m also curious about the mechanics because there’s normally a kanji on every level that you will struggle to remember the On reading for… I’ll wait for someone with answers to reply.

Guruing it once is all that matters :wink: Getting it wrong after won’t affect your kanji progression and consequent unlocking of vocab using it.


If you’ve gurud a kanji once the vocab will stay unlocked as far as I know. However, having items separated from the groups you’ve learned them in is inevitable (and also better, if you encounter a kanji in the wild it’s not going to be in its group after all)

Leeches is a term used for items that you always get wrong, not just once.


thanks for the answers :blush:

Yeah you’re right. I just like to learn this way as it fits my daily routine pretty well:

  • Reviews in morning, followed by a lesson session (if available)
  • Reviews at noon
  • Reviews in the evening/at nighttime

I’m pretty happy with that :grin:


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