Updated by Board Resolution March 31 2017, and January 30 2019 (youth ranks).
Age Requirements for Rank and Promotion
With the permission of the dojo cho, children who reach the age of thirteen or older may enter the ASU rolls as adult members. The highest rank they may enter with is sankyu.
The minimum age for testing for shodan (black belt) is 16.
Requirements for Kyu Promotion
The examination system in Aikido is not structured on competition. You will be graded on the following points.
- Your understanding of basic technique appropriate to your level.
- Your spontaneous movement and response appropriate for the attack.
- Your ability to adapt your movement to the force of the attack.
- The concentration and awareness you maintain throughout the examination.
- Continuity of movement is important, not speed.
- Confidence and courage are important, not ego.
- Be prepared to uke for someone else of your same level during the examination period. You will be graded on your ukemi.
A technique should be demonstrated continuously both right and left until there is a signal to stop. Both irimi and tenkan movement should be used whenever applicable. You will be expected to know and respond to the Japanese terms. It is necessary to have completed the required number of days of training (each training day counts once, regardless of number of hours, in computing time requirements) and it is necessary that the waiting period between each examination has expired.
Please note, test technique requirements have not changed since edition 3 (2011) of the ASU Student Handbook.
Rokyu (30 days / 3 months)
- Shomenuchi ikkyo and iriminage
- Munetsuki kotegaeshi
- Katate dori shihonage
- Kokyu tanden ho
Gokyu (60 days / 4 months): All previous techniques plus
- Shomenuchi nikyo
- Kata dori ikkyo and nikyo
- Munetsuki kaitennage
Yonkyu (60 days / 4 months): All previous techniques plus
- Shomenuchi sankyo and yonkyo
- Yokomenuchi ikkyo, kotegaeshi and iriminage
- Ryote dori tenchinage and shihonage
- Katate dori ryote mochi kokyu tanden ho
Sankyu (70 days / 4 months): All previous techniques plus
- Ushiro ryokata dori ikkyo
- Ushiro ryote dori shihonage
- Ushiro kubi shime kotegaeshi
- Ushiro waza kokyunage
Nikyu (80 days / 6 months): All previous techniques plus
- Yokomenuchi nikyo, sankyo and yonkyo
- Koshinage from shomenuchi, katate dori, yokomenuchi, and munetsuki
- Hanmi handachi:
- Katate dori shihonage
- Ryote dori shihonage
- Shomenuchi ikkyo
- Kata dori ikkyo
- Yokomenuchi ikkyo
Ikkyu (90 days / 6 months): All previous techniques plus
- Jiyu waza:
- Hanmi handachi
- Tanto dori:
Requirements for Yudansha Promotion
Aikido has a basic structure, kihon waza, which allows you to study the fundamental principles of the art. The structure of this training process is the same as a scientific formula. As a formula is an exacting international language that allows scientists to communicate and explore the depths of scientific principle, kihon waza is an international language allowing Aikidoka from all over the world to communicate and explore the basic truths of Aikido. If this basic structure is lost, Aikido is lost.
During the examination, you are expected to demonstrate an understanding of the principles of the art through this very exacting structure of kihon waza, clearly and precisely, not your personal ideas or your personal expression. Yudansha examination is not performance art.
The following points are critical:
- The execution of formal kihon waza, an understanding of its proper application and of the fundamental principles it demonstrates – most importantly kokyu; musubi; irimi tenkan
- Hanmi at all times; before, during, at the conclusion of and following the technique
- Control of your own center; control of your partner’s center; control of the technique
- Application of power appropriate to the attack
- The proper pinning technique to demonstrate the conflict is finished
- Martial Awareness
Taking ukemi for yudansha examination is a very serious responsibility. Each technique is developed to study a specific direction and application of force. As uke you must understand this and have the ability to give an honest, strong and focused attack that is appropriate for the technique required. A weak attack is unacceptable. A deceptive attack is unacceptable. Since you know the technique your partner is being asked to demonstrate it is easy to stop its execution.
There are no friends or enemies during examination. It is not uke’s job to make value judgments. You do not take uke to make your partner look bad. You do not take ukemi to make your partner look good. Do not jump into a spectacular fall if the power is not there. Do not make a point of taking a bored and resisting fall to make it look as though your partner didn’t really throw you. Either way is dishonest. Remember, you take ukemi to avoid injury. You are not taking ukemi to show off. Uke must only do what is appropriate to the situation. This requires much training and much soul searching.
Time, Technique, and Attendance Requirements for Dan Promotion
Please note the words “consistent training” on the time requirements below. This is very important. The stated requirements are bare minimums intended to apply to students who train 4 to 5 days a week for some time before their test and make the effort to train directly under ASU senior instructors (ranked 6th Dan or above) at camps and seminars.
Promotion is not just a right acquired after a certain amount of time. It is a privilege and must be earned. Anyone not meeting these requirements must receive more training for the necessary maturity in rank so as to develop a deeper understanding, in order to be eligible for promotion.
The importance of attending seminars, intensives and camps are manifold. They
- Improve technical skills through practice with different senior students, either as training partners or under their direction as senior instructors;
- Encourage people to work with different people outside of their own dojo;
- Introduce newer students into the greater Aikido world;
- Give students a chance to train with an uchideshi of O-Sensei by having the opportunity to train under Saotome Sensei;
- Develop relationships between junior and senior students, as well as with instructors;
- Build relationships within the larger Aikido world: locally, nationally and internationally; and
- Enable candidates to get to know the people who might be uke on their tests.
Shodan (120 training days and 12 months after receiving Ikkyu)
The candidate must have attended at least two full seminars/intensives or one ASU camp as above since attaining ikkyu grade and within two years of the shodan test. It is the responsibility of the instructor planning to recommend a student for testing to inform the directors of qualifying seminars/camps of the candidacy, so that the student may be observed more closely.
All basic techniques and previous requirements plus:
- Kumi tachi: First five basic kata
- Tanto dori: A different technique from each – shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, tsuki, two different techniques from ushiro
- Tachi dori: A total of five different techniques. Attacks will be shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, tsuki
- Randori: Three people attacking
Nidan (Minimum 30 months and approximately 400 training days of consistent training after receiving Shodan)
Since attaining shodan rank and within two years of the scheduled examination date, the candidate must have at least attended three seminars/intensives or one ASU camp as above. It is the responsibility of the instructor planning to recommend a student for testing to inform the directors of qualifying seminars/camps of the candidacy, so that the student may be observed more closely.
All basic techniques and previous requirements plus:
- Kumi tachi: First twelve basic kata
- Kumi jo: First six basic kata
- Randori: Three people attacking with shinai
Sandan (Minimum 3 1/2 years of consistent training after receiving Nidan)
Since attaining nidan rank and within two years of the scheduled examination date, the candidate must have at least attended three seminars/intensives or one ASU camp as above.
All basic techniques performed to demonstrate more understanding of the relationship of basic principle to the technique with maturity and clarity.
Ranking for Yondan and Above:
This is determined by recommendation of the Kagami Baraki Committee to the Board of ASU which, upon approval, will forward the recommendation to Aikikai Hombu Dojo, Japan. Candidates for these higher ranks will be expected to have had consistent attendance at many more seminars/camps than the minimum required above.
“True Budo is a work of love. It is a work of giving life to all beings, and not killing or struggling with each other.”