Rank

Testing is not a requirement in this dojo. It is rather an opportunity to advance one's training by focusing on a series of techniques and principals appropriate to one's level. The testing process invites students to challenge themselves, improve their technical ability and deepen their understanding of their aikido practice.

Kyu Test
Adult ranks begin at 5th kyu and progress to 1st kyu and then to1st Degree Black Belt (Shodan). Dan ranks (black belt) ascend in number. In order to take a kyu exam, there is usually a required number of training days and training seminars to attend. Each kyu rank poses specific techniques which students are asked to examine in depth. Techniques from a previous test may also be required on the next test. Students are not asked to demonstrate unless they are already training at a certain level.  They are encouraged to look upon testing as a way to offer a gift to the dojo because the process invigorates and inspires teachers and students alike. 

How many training days are required for kyu rank?

Gokyo - 5th Kyu 50 training days
Yonkyu - 4th Kyu 80 additional training days
Sankyu - 3rd Kyu 100 additional training days
Nikkyu - 2nd Kyu 125 additional training days
Ikkyu - 1st Kyu 150 additional training days

When do kyu tests happen?
Kyu tests are scheduled four times a year.  Check the [TCA Events Calendar] for dates (we keep paper copies at the front of the dojo and an online version on our website).  There are times when Sensei will schedule an additional test date depending on individual circumstances or if there are more tests than the established dates can accommodate.

What are the requirements for preparing for a kyu test?

  1. Speak with Sensei about your interest in preparing for a test three months prior to a test date.  It is up to you to express your interest in testing to her.  It is her decision whether your practice demonstrates a readiness to prepare for the next rank. 
  1. Plan to train at least three times per week for the three months prior to a test. If you are preparing for a brown belt test, plan to train at least three times per week for six months prior to testing.
  1. In addition to training during class, take time before or after class, to work directly on your test techniques with an uke equal to your rank or one or two ranks above. This is the the uke you will begin your test with. 
  1. Choose a black belt who will work individually with you and answer any questions that you have along the way. This black belt mentor will also assist you in achieving the standards of a successful test process.  He or she should be able to assist you through the whole process, and will be in attendance during your mock exam with Sensei and the day of your exam.
  1. Schedule a mock test with Sensei a month before your test date. Be sure your uke and black belt mentor are able to attend this mock test.  At this point you should be very clear on all the techniques and requirements for your test.  From this point forward, your focus should be on fine-tuning your efforts.  All of the required test techniques, will appear in either your mock test or on the day of your test. 
  1. One additional requirement for 4th kyu candidates and above is to attend at least one weekend seminar prior to your test date. We encourage you to attend the seminar in its entirety in order to experience the teacher's full offering. Students who are 2nd and 1st kyu candidates are strongly encouraged to attend at least two weekend seminars per year. If Two Cranes isn't hosting a seminar during this period of time, ask a black belt for recommendations.  We are blessed in Seattle to have incredible seminars almost every weekend.
  1. There is a $50 testing fee for each kyu rank students participate in to be paid before your test. Please submit payment with a test application form. Click here for application form.

What will I be asked to demonstrate during the test?

  • An understanding and proper execution of basic techniques appropriate to your level
  • Spontaneous movement and response appropriate for the attack
  • Concentration and awareness throughout the test
  • Continuity of movement is important, not speed
  • Do your techniques continuously, both left and right, until Sensei signals you to stop
  • Perform both irimi and tenkan, ura and omote versions of all applicable techniques
  • Show a knowledge of all Japanese terms for the techniques you do

"The secret is not in how you move your feet, it is how you move your mind. I'm not teaching you martial techniques. I'm teaching you nonviolence." 

O Sensei

Black Belt Tests
The hierarchical structure of Aikido follows substantially the ranking system adopted by all the other major Japanese martial arts. Aikido students of the art are divided into two categories: one including students of kyu rank, and the other students of dan rank. The category of dan rank includes those students of Aikido who have been awarded their black belts. Collectively they are known as "yudansha" (black belt holders). Dan tests are scheduled according to a candidate's readiness.

Preparation Requirements for a Dan Test
1. All dan candidates need six months of intensive preparation prior to testing. They should arrange a meeting with Sensei to begin the process. It's up to you to express your interest in testing to Sensei. It's her decision whether your practice demonstrates a readiness to prepare for the next rank. 

2. Students wishing to engage in the exam process are encouraged to train a minimum of four times a week in class, for at least four months prior to testing.

3. In addition to class, take time before or after class to work directly on your test techniques with an uke equal to your rank or one or two ranks above.  This will be the uke you will begin your test with. Find a black belt instructor willing to help you with any questions you have along the way. They will also be a guide to help you achieve the standards necessary for a successful testing process. There should be one black belt who can walk through the whole process with you and will be in attendance during your mock exam with Sensei.

4. Schedule a mock exam with Sensei one month before your test date. Be sure your uke and black belt mentor are able to attend this mock exam. At this point, you should be very clear on the techniques and all requirements for your test.  From this point forward, your focus should be on fine-tuning your efforts. 

5. In addition to regular training, Sensei or senior instructors will offer topic-specific training opportunities for the testing candidates.

6. Please fill out a test application and pay your testing fee: $225 for Shodan, $325 for Nidan and Sandan prior to testing. Click here for application form.

7. Students are required to attend one weekend seminar between ranks and are encouraged to attend one training camp. In lieu of a training camp, two additional weekend seminars are acceptable. It is understood that this requirement may be waived due to special circumstances and with Sensei's approval.

8. Dan candidates will be asked to write an essay that describes the significance of their test preparation, both in their aikido training and in their personal life. This reflection may include what they have focused on during the training process for the exam. Candidates may evaluate what they see as their strengths and weaknesses. 


Shodan
The rank of Shodan demonstrates the beginning of a new commitment to training.  First Degree Black Belt does not mean that the student has attained mastery or is in some sense an expert in the art. In the Japanese martial arts, the first black belt rank simply means that a student has trained hard enough to have a solid knowledge of the basics or "Kihon Waza" and is therefore now considered a serious beginner.

Student must meet all requirements of prior testing requirements. They need to have 200 class days of training between ranks and more than one year of training since their 1st kyu exam. They are responsible for demonstrating all basic techniques and previous requirements plus:

Tanto dori (knife takeaways) A different technique from each attack-shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, tsuki, slash and behind the back.

Tachi dori (sword takeaways) A total of five different techniques. Attacks will be shomenuchi, yokomenuchi and tsuki.

Bo Ikkyo

Randori (multiple attackers) Three people attacking


Nidan
The Nidan examination tests not only a candidate's understanding of principles and techniques, but also considers her initiative, responsibility and personal expression in training. The demonstration should reflect the kind of leadership and role model position an Aikidoist of this level is often asked to be responsible for. He/she needs a minimum of two years and 400 class days of consistent training after receiving shodan.

All basic techniques and previous requirements plus:

Kaeshiwaza (counter techniques)

Kumi tachi (paired sword) first five basic kata

Bo Ikkyo and Bo Nikkyo

Randori (multiple attackers) three people attacking


Sandan
Three years and 400 class days of consistent training after receiving nidan and meeting all requirements for candidate status as outlined above. Sandan hos are responsible for creating a personal demonstration that includes all elements of Aikido techniques. In addition, they are responsible for demonstrating leadership in the dojo that includes instruction of students and being a steward to the dojo.