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Old 08-10-2004, 03:21 AM   #1
Dojo: West Michigan Aikido
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 112
Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

I've seen a lot of threads dealing with the ranks and what does it mean. Of course different dojos have different ideas of how to get students from an absolute beginner where you are simply just trying to not get injured to a point where you are training for refinement.
In the course of your dojo's testing and ranking, what factors are there which the sensei feels that a student is ready for that next level.
At the dojo which I train the requirements are a. Number of classes (example: between 2nd kyu and 1st kyu 140 classes are required), attitude towards other students and the dojo in general, and capability.
Each teachers system is different and yet the same.. Which is why I love Aikido.. Because you can learn it from so many different angles. The possibilities are endless.
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Old 08-10-2004, 04:00 AM   #2
Creature_of_the_id's Avatar
Dojo: Alnwick aikido club (UKAU)
Location: Newcastle, England
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 217
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

Our grading system is completely ability based.
During your kyu grades no one invites you to grade. your instructor may mention to you that he believes you can pass, or that you may need a little work in certain areas. But the choice to grade is your own, you just go on the relevant course, put your name down and if you are good enough you pass. if you are not, you fail and the examiner will let you know where you need to improve in order to pass next time.

that is how it works right up through the kyu grades, although as you go up the kyu grades the opportunities to grade become less frequent.

from first kyu onwards its a case of being invited to grade once you are seen to be good enough. (still ability based)

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Old 08-10-2004, 04:17 AM   #3
Dojo: Ren Shin Kan
Location: Birmingham
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 362
United Kingdom
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

I think that this is one of the most complex issues in Aikido.
At our dojo we have almost complete disagreement between the senior instructors about people wanting to grade.
My view is that if someone wants to grade; providing they meet the criteria in terms of practice hours etc. then they can. If either they haven't been diligent enough in their practise and/or their Aikido is not of the required standard as a result then they fail; in other words they may perform a brilliant test but if they have been slack before that they will still fail.
My colleagues viewpoint is totally opposite. He likes his students to ask him before they apply for grading and he will then tell them whether he thinks they should test or not.

One cast iron rule we follow is that we DO NOT overule each other.

For example he may refuse a student permission to test, who then comes to me to approve his application. In that case I would refuse such permission.

Strange but it seems to work and not cause any conflict or resentment in the students.
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Old 08-10-2004, 06:17 AM   #4
ian's Avatar
Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
Location: Northern Ireland
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,654
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

I think grading has several purposes:
1. to allow people to structure their training and understanding (esp. names of techniques)
2. encouragement
3. to provide a hierarchy so newbies know who to emulate.
4. award for services rendered to aikido (esp. at higher grades).

Thus I think two people of the same grade cannot usually be directly compared. The only important thing is to ensure that standards are maintained and that grades are not given without a reason.

Pretty much I think it is best to have a relaxed student/sensei relationship so that sensei can suggest gradings, and students can also ask if they think they should be graded. If their is a good relationship, both parties can be completely honest about the students abilities.


Last edited by ian : 08-10-2004 at 06:19 AM.
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Old 08-10-2004, 09:44 AM   #5
Dojo: West Michigan Aikido
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 112
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

About a year ago I train at several dojos thoughout Taiwan. Most graded not based upon classes or even technique, but rather or not you paid your dues on time. Their were tests that actually it would seem quite embarrassing to me to even be taking that test. They will usually pass them to the next Kyu rank, and (depend on your stading with the ROC aikikai) Dan ranks as well. However they do tend to naturally work themselves out. Those who are not serious students tend not to study after shodan. Go figure.
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Old 08-10-2004, 04:41 PM   #6
Bronson's Avatar
Dojo: Seiwa Dojo and Southside Dojo
Location: Battle Creek & Kalamazoo, MI
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,677
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

Minimum hour requirement (easy to get) and sensei approval (not as easy to get).

We test three times a year. The dojo-cho tallies up the students hours and hands the list of people with the required hours to sensei. Sensei then decides who's name goes on the testing list. For dan grades you are asked (or told in my particular case ) to test.


"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 08-10-2004, 05:35 PM   #7
senseimike's Avatar
Dojo: Rising Star Aikido
Location: South Bend, Nebraska
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 81
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

In our dojo it is usually considered inappropriate to ask to test. There are minimum hourly requirements, but earning your hours does not automatically make you eligible for testing. The Sensei will start to discuss testing with the candidate when he feels that the student is ready to test. Sometimes this time comes before the hours have been reached, sometimes well after. When all requirements are met, and the Sensei has agreed that the student is ready, they test. Sometimes the student has a few weeks or a month notice to prepare, sometimes a week's notice, sometimes a few days, and sometimes just an hour's notice. I have seen examples of the student passing the test with out knowing that they were testing. It all depends on the dojo and the Sensei.

Mike Taylor
Chief Instructor, Rising Star Aikido
South Bend, Nebraska, USA
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Old 08-11-2004, 02:55 AM   #8
Location: Amsterdam
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 68
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?


I have no idea...
I was told that you are asked to take a grading test by the sensei as he knows when you are ready...apparently!?

"Deal with the faults as gently a your own"
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Old 08-13-2004, 07:27 PM   #9
Lyle Laizure
Lyle Laizure's Avatar
Dojo: Hinode Dojo LLC
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 566
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

In my dojo there is an hour requirement for each level. The hours are only a guide though. Also taken into consideration is the students attitude, how well he/she takes correction, interacts with other students etc. Once these crieteria are met the student can test.

At this time we test when a test is needed. Later we will probably test only once a month.

Lyle Laizure
Deru kugi wa uta reru
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Old 08-14-2004, 01:21 AM   #10
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 522
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

As far as I can tell, we have sensei asking the student if s/he is going to test, not the other way around. But I suspect no one says yes on the higher-rank tests without a lot of quiet encouragement on sensei's part.

We have testing very seldom, roughly once a year, so it's usually dead obvious when someone is ready to test for the lower grades. This fall we have someone testing for shodan, though, which is a big deal for us and seemed to take much nerving-up for the student involved.

Personally, I love tests--my own and other students'--and would be delighted to have them a bit more often. I'm really looking forward to seeing that shodan test.

Mary Kaye
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:09 AM   #11
gilsinnj's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Mt. Airy
Location: Maryland
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 37
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

As a Shodan, I can only comment about the kyu ranks, but here's how it works in our dojo/ryu.

The first few belts are mostly time/practice based.
6th kyu = Can you fall safely, including break-falls? (approximately 3 months)
5th kyu = 3-6 months
4th kyu = 6 months
3rd kyu = 6 months

Above that, there are some basic requirements that go along with the grade.
2nd kyu = Can you defend youself physically? (6 months)
1st kyu = Have you started to relax? (1 year)
Shodan = Can you defend youself while being relaxed and using ki? (1 year)

All fo the times above are approximate depending on how much and how hard the student trains. Total it's about 4 years of really hard constant practice to attain a shodan rank. We've had some people that practiced really hard achieve these levels early, but most of us have taken time off due to injury or other factors that have made it longer. As an example, it took me an extra year due to two injuries I suffered during my kyu ranks.

After that, it's all up to our sensei and what he feels.

-- Jim
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Old 08-18-2004, 04:49 PM   #12
Dojo: Aikido of Silicon Valley
Location: Fremont, CA
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 248
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

In our dojo it's the number of classes taken. I guess big gaps between 2 classes would be considered as reset of the counter.
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Old 08-21-2004, 06:22 PM   #13
Devon Natario
Devon Natario's Avatar
Dojo: Northwest Jujitsu/Coeur D'Alene, ID
Location: Coeur D'Alene
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 109
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

In ours the instructor decides. He will approach you and let you know when your ready.

I think it's based more on attitude and time in my dojo, rather than knowing the syllabus of techniques.

Devon Natario
Northwest Jujitsu
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Old 08-23-2004, 07:06 PM   #14
p00kiethebear's Avatar
Dojo: Tonbo Dojo
Location: Bainbridge Island WA
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 374
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

In our dojo, anyone CAN test if they have the practice hours required, However not all can pass.

In our dojo, we treat testing as a time to step back and take inventory of what you know (or don't) and what you can do (or can't) more than a way to give rank.

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 08-23-2004, 07:15 PM   #15
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 22
Re: Ranking: How does your dojo decide when?

same here, if you have the hours and you have to make it to class four weeks in a row
testing is first sat,of the month cost 6.00 cash money
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