Guidelines for exams

These are guidelines for test preparation, however do not be surprised if you are asked to demonstrate a technique not on this list during an exam. The only preparation for that is regular, consistent training. Also remember, each exam builds on the skills learned for the previous exam.

  • Students testing for a given Kyu rank are assumed to be familiar with the ukemi for that rank.

  • Students testing for the same Kyu rank should take ukemi for each other when possible. If that is not possible a student of higher rank can be asked to take ukemi. In no circumstance should a student be asked to take ukemi for a ranking test above theirs.

  • Students should be prepared to demonstrate techniques from both static and moving, and students testing for ranks higher than 4th kyu should be prepared to demonstrate variations where appropriate (for example omote and ura, or soto and uchi).

  • Weapons work is part of every test. Basic bokken suburi and traditional staff work are fundamental requirements. More advanced ranks require various types of paired weapons work. Advanced ranks require skill in Aikibojitsu technique, which can be learned after class, or in the Saturday morning class taught by Read Sensei.


2nd Kyu (brown belt)


  • Shomenuchi Shihonage, and Koshinage

  • Yokomenuchi Shihonage, Iriminage, Kotegaeshi, and Koshinage

  • Katadori Menuchi Ikkyo through Yonkyo, Iriminage, and Kotegaeshi

  • Munetsuki Sankyo, Kaitennage, and Koshinage

  • Ryotedori Ikkyo through Yonkyo, Kokyunage, and Koshinage

  • Morotedori Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Kokyunage, and Koshinage

  • Ushiro Ryotedori Iriminage, Jujinage, and Koshinage


  • Ushiro Ryokatadori Kokyunage - variations


  • Knife Defense from at least 3 attacks

  • Staff Taking

  • Throwing with the Staff

  • Aikibojitsu kata of your choice


1st Kyu (brown belt)

Basic Requirements same as 2nd Kyu

Additional Requirements:


  • Sword Taking, at least 3 techniques

  • Knife Defense, 5 variations

  • Paired Sword Defense, at least 3 variations

  • 2 Aikibojitsu Kata of your choice

RANDORI (3 person)

SHODAN (1st degree black belt)

Basic requirements same as for 1st Kyu, but more in depth understanding and skill of execution required.



  • Sword taking, 5 variations

  • Staff taking, 5 variations

  • throwing with staff, variations

  • 3 Aikibojitsu kata of your choice


5th Kyu (white belt)


  • Shomenuchi Ikkyo


  • Shomenuchi Iriminage

  • Katatedori Kokyunage

  • Aidori Kotegaeshi

  • Yokomenuchi Shihonage

  • Ushiro Ryotedori Sankyo


  • 7 Bokken Suburi

  • Happo giri (8 direction sword cuts)

  • Bojitsu: Shomen, Tsuki, High Block, Right and Left Yokomen, Ushiro Tsuki, Maetsuki

4th Kyu (blue belt)


  • Shomenuchi Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Sankyo, and Yonkyo

  • Katadori Nikkyo


  • Shomenuchi Ikkyo through Yonkyo

  • Yokomenuchi Kotegaeshi

  • Katatedori Shihonage, Ikkyo, and Nikkyo


  • Shomenuchi Iriminage

  • Katatedori Kaitennage


  • Knife Defense from tsuki

  • Bo Ikkyo


3rd Kyu (blue belt)


  • Shomenuchi Iriminage

  • Katadori Menuchi Ikkyo through Yonkyo

  • Katadori Menuchi Iriminage


  • Shomenuchi Kotegaeshi

  • Yokomenuchi Kokyunage

  • Katadori Ikkyo through Yonkyo

  • Katadori Iriminage

  • Katadori Kotegaeshi

  • Munetsuki Iriminage, Kotegaeshi

  • Morotedori Kokyunage

  • Ryotedori Tenchinage

  • Ushiro Ryotedori Ikkyo through Yonkyo


  • Shomenuchi Ikkyo through Yonkyo


  • Knife Defense from tsuki and knife to throat

  • Bo Nikkyo



Why Test?

The techniques in Aikido are vehicles for expressing ourselves in a harmonious relationship with our partners. They are forms through which we can experience energy flow, centering, grounding, connection, and harmony. We also receive feedback through them about our energy blocks, resistance, fear, anger, and so on.

An individual’s progress along a Way, such as Aikido, is difficult to assess. However, using techniques to demonstrate various aspects of Aikido can accomplish several ends. In order for a technique to be executed smoothly, centering, grounding, connection, and harmony must be present in addition to technical knowledge. The same technique will vary with each person one trains with. So it is valuable to have a form and then find our own inner harmony while practicing wit ha variety of people, all of whom have a different physical presentation and energy. We begin to see that rather than the technique working, it is our internal adjustment with each relationship, through the techniques, that “works”. That is Aikido.

Kyu demonstrations also allow us to experience how much our understanding has progressed since the last time we demonstrated or tested. We can also witness the same progress in others. We begin to see that the difference in the way Ikkyo is performed by a 5th kyu and a 1st kyu student is more than technical. The nebulous area that involves presence, extension, connection, and so on, is Aikido.

Once again, we do not wish to, nor are we able to, judge an Aikidoka as to their personal position on their path. However, to be able to identify kyu ranking gives us a vocabulary with which to communicate students’ relative positions. We respect each person for who they are and for what they bring to the mat. We also recognize just how challenging it can be to expose part of our process for judgement. The kyu demonstrations are opportunities for all of us to grow, to support each other, and to strengthen our connections. Each rite of passage becomes “united harmony” itself as we celebrate our fellow students removing their limitations, and bringing the honesty and earnestness of their training for us to witness. Each kyu demonstration becomes a gift of inspiration.