Test Procedures

Aikido Blackl Belt Testing at Aikido Eastside

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

Kyu Test Procedures


  1. Examinations are generally held quarterly, as specified in the calendar posted in the Dojo. Trainees who wish to be examined should submit an Application for Kyu Examination Card a minimum of one week prior to a scheduled Exam. Cards are available at the front desk.
  2. Be sure you have the required number of practice days before applying for an examination.
  3. Examinees should:
    1. Select a partner/trainer in advance to help you prepare. As a general rule, this partner/trainer should be a rank or two above your own.
    2. Listen to your partner/trainer… 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.
    3. Be prepared to clearly demonstrate each technique required.
    4. Continue doing the same technique, left and right, omote & ura, until the examiner says “stop”.
    5. Expect examiners to change uke’s during the examination.
    6. Be prepared to demonstrate ukemi at a level appropriate for the rank tested for.
    7. Expect to be re-tested within a few days to insure that corrections made by examiners have been understood.
  4. The instructor-staff will consider each applicant according to the following criteria:
      1. attitude – humility, courtesy, respect
      2. spirit – aliveness, vitality, willingness to push self to the edge
      3. interaction – appropriateness in training with others
      1. knowledge – knowing how the technique works (form & principle)
      2. proficiency – showing how the technique works
      3. stamina – endurance, conditioning
      4. ukemi – falling skills advancing at same level as throwing skills

 Aikido sword training at Aikido Eastside

Dan Test Procedures

We are now using a new process for Kyu test preparation. Part of that preparation is choosing a “partner / trainer” who in addition to preparing an applicant, has the final say in their readiness to test. Once given the go-ahead, a “brown card” is submitted. This card includes a simple statement regarding confidence in one’s ability and a request to take the exam.

At 1st Kyu … one continues to work with a trainer, but an important change occurs. One does not apply to take a Dan test. As a 1st Kyu student arrives at 100 training days (minimum of ten months after their 1st Kyu test, they have the option of submitting a “blue card.” This blue card is different from the brown card in content as well as color, and should be read carefully. What it is NOT is an application to take the test. What it IS is a request for special training – a request to commit to SEISHIN TANREN … spiritual forging.

The blue card is called an Application for Sho Dan Ho. Sho Dan Ho means Sho Dan candidate. What is a Sho Dan Candidate? It is a 1st Kyu requesting to put it on the line. It is a commitment to train at a level more severe than that of the general classes and under the direct supervision of the senior instructors. It is an important distinction that not all 1st Kyu choose to be Sho Dan Ho. It is perfectly okay for someone to remain 1st Kyu for as long as they like, and pass up the intensity of candidate training.

Within this dojo Kevin Lam and Josh Drachman have the responsibility to prepare the Sho Dan Ho for examination. Working with each individual and their personal “partner / trainer” – they push each candidate to the limit, stretching their capacity physically and emotionally. This is training of the spirit – “guts” training, if you will. When Lam Sensei and Drachman Sensei and the trainer feel a candidate is ready (which will take a matter of months), he informs Sensei and at that point the Exam for that individual is scheduled. It is a mistake for a candidate to assume they are taking the exam on the next possible date following the submission of a “blue card”. All candidates would save themselves unnecessary emotional baggage by just training until given the official go-ahead, and not worrying about the date of the “big event.” We will advise you when we feel you are ready.

If you would like to see what the standard of performance is at Aikido Eastside, take a look at these videos below. They show the last San Dan (third degree black belt) tests taken by our senior students in front of Mistugi Saotome Sensei at two different events. These tests represent the standard we strive for and each student is encouraged to reach for this level of performance in his training.

Jeff Strand – San Dan – Empty Hand

Jeff Strand – San Dan – Two Sword Demo

Jeff Strand – San Dan – Randori

Arrow Pride – San Dan – Empty Hand

Will Holloway – San Dan – Empty Hand

Will and Arrow – San Dan – Two Sword