Kyu Test Protocol

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.

Seattle Aikikai follows the convention of 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 the art, formalizing your training experience and progress. Seattle Aikikai holds tests quarterly for Kyu ranks (approx. at the solstice and equinox dates), and one test annually for Dan ranks. 


  • Students who wish to be examined should consult with Sensei regarding preparation and timing.
  • Select a Sempai (senior student)  in advance 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) before a scheduled Exam. Be sure you have the required number of practice hours before applying for an examination. Remember, there is no rush for testing. 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 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 – humility, courtesy, respect
      • Spirit – aliveness, vitality, willingness to push self 
      • Determination – consistent training regimen and perseverance
      • Interaction – appropriateness in training with others


      • Knowledge – knowing how the technique works (form & principle)
      • Proficiency – showing how the technique works
      • Stamina – endurance, conditioning
      • Ukemi – falling skills advancing at the same level as throwing skills

Post Test:

  • Having the opportunity to test is not an assurance of passing a test. If you pass your test, congratulations! Show up to train the very next day. If you do not 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 need to pay a test fee if you do not pass. These fees are sent to the United States Aikido Federation and go towards your grading registration and certificate of completion.