Testing and promotion

While testing is not the main focus of our training at Seattle Aikikai, we take the testing process seriously. The procedures listed below are to help the test candidate gain a better understanding of what is expected of them.

There are six Kyu ranks (white belt) followed by eight Dan ranks (black belt). Unlike many competitive martial arts, testing for rank in Aikido is not mandatory. Nevertheless, it is an effective way to gauge your skills and technical proficiency in Aikido and to formalize your training experience and progress. Seattle Aikikai holds quarterly Kyu tests and one test annually for Dan ranks.

Before you test

Students who wish to be examined should consult with Sensei about preparation and timing.

Select a Sempai (senior student) mentor to help you prepare. As a general rule, this Sempai should be two ranks above your own. It is your responsibility to reach out and coordinate with your Sempai.

Listen to your Sempai. They have the experience and the responsibility to help get you ready. That responsibility includes being honest with you – and telling you if they feel you are not quite ready to test this time.

Submit an application for Kyu Examination (available from the office) prior to a scheduled Exam. Be sure you have the required number of practice hours before applying for an examination. Remember, there is no rush to test or gain rank. It is far better to have more than the required hours and to know all of the techniques flawlessly than to test prematurely.

During the test

  • Familiarize yourself with the etiquette required for a test (formal bowing procedure, etc.)
  • Be prepared to clearly demonstrate each technique required.
  • Continue doing the same technique, left and right, omote and ura, until the examiner says “stop.”
  • Expect examiners to change ukes during the examination.
  • Be prepared to demonstrate ukemi at a level appropriate for the rank


The instructor will consider each student individually according to the following criteria:

  • Attitude: You demonstrate humility, courtesy, and respect on the mat.
  • Spirit: Your Aikido shows aliveness and vitality, and you demonstrate your willingness to push yourself.
  • Determination: You have shown consistent training and perseverance.
  • Interaction: You show appropriate behavior when training with others.
  • Knowledge: Demonstrate that you understand how the technique works (in form and principle).
  • Proficiency: You are able to show how the technique works.
  • Stamina: You show appropriate endurance and conditioning for the level you are testing at.
  • Ukemi: Your falling skills have advanced at same level as your throwing skills.

After your test

Having the opportunity to test is not an assurance of passing the test. If you pass, congratulations! Show up to train the very next day. If you don’t pass your test, show up to train the very next day.

You will be given clear feedback and the opportunity to re-test to show your progress as soon as possible.

Pay your test fee at the time of passing the examination. You do not pay a test fee if you do not pass. You will receive a certificate that shows that you have completed your test successfully.