The Aikibojitsu Ranking System
Four Main Katas for Study
Achievement of rank leading up to and including the first degree black belt (Shodan) are focused around study
of four main Aikibojitsu katas. The most common are:
The Fire Kata
The Mirror Kata
The Eagle Kata
The Diamond Kata
Katas are the traditional means by which martial systems have been passed from teacher to student. In
Aikibojitsu, each Kata becomes a focus for study, comprehensive and complete in and of itself. In the ongoing
process of study of these four main Katas, practitioners will become familiar with the underlying principles and
concepts of Aikibojitsu, and will gain a high level of proficiency in Aikibojitsu staff work.
A practitioner who is working toward advancement in rank in Aikibojitsu must complete a minimum of 25
registered hours for each Kata. Thus a minimum of 100 registered hours must be accrued to qualify for the
black belt rank examination. Registered hours are hours of training that have been certified by a licensed
Aikibojitsu Instructor or Teacher, and submitted to the Aikibojitsu Organization to become part of the
practitioner's official training record (for a more detailed explanation, please refer to 'Registered Hours' below.)
Registered hours may be accrued in a number of different ways. A practitioner may accrue hours by working
through the Aikibojitsu Shodan Video Series either privately or while enrolled in the Aikibojitsu Distance
Learning Program. Hours may be accrued through participation in regular Aikibojitsu classes, or through private
instruction from a Certified Aikibojitsu Instructor or Teacher. When hours are accrued privately or through
private instruction, hourly minimums are determined and certified through the Challenge Process (see The
Challenge Process below.)
'Behind the scenes', Aikibojitsu seminars are classified into three main levels, Level-1, Level-2, and Level-3. As
might be expected, a Level-1 Seminar focuses on acquiring basic knowledge (for example, the set of basic
movements that make up a Kata.) A Level-2 Seminar assumes some prior experience in Aikibojitsu staff work
(for example, prior attendance at a Level-1 seminar focused on a Kata), and a Level-3 Seminar is intended for
intermediate to advanced practitioners, especially those working toward the first degree black belt examination
Each Seminar has a certain number of registered hours associated with it. Those registered hours will be
automatically be appended to the practitioner's training record by the event's Instructor upon completion of the
Seminar, requiring no further action on the part of participants. Hours registration fees are included in the event
The Level-1 Seminar
A Level-1 Seminar focuses on the basics of the topic to be covered. For example, a Level-1 Seminar
whose topic is the Fire Kata, will focus on the basic movements of the Kata, and assumes no prior
experience by participants. Most people who finish a Level-1 Fire Kata Seminar are able to move with a
moderate level of competence through the whole Fire Kata by Seminar's end. A Level-1 Seminar may be
repeated as necessary, and it is not uncommon for advanced practitioners to repeat Level-1 Seminars.
Level-1 Seminars primarily focus on the four main Katas. However, other Level-1 Seminars are freqently
given that focus on such diverse topics as Short Form study, paired weapons practice, open-hand
(Aikido) technique, basics of the art of ukemi (falling) and more.
A Level-2 Seminar assumes that the practitioner has had at least some instruction in Aikibojitsu technique.
For example, a Level-2 Seminar focused on the Fire Kata assumes that the practitioner has learned the
Kata sequence and remembers enough of it to pick it up relatively quickly as the Seminar progresses. The
Level-2 Seminar is an intermediate level event, intended to provide continued practice beyond the raw
beginning level. Level-2 Seminars strengthen knowledge and lead to confidence in various aspects of the
topic covered. Level-2 Seminars incorporate Aikibojitsu's unique theoretical foundation as an integral part
A Level-3 Seminar is focused on providing advanced training for Aikibojitsu practitioners. Those who
hold the rank of brown-belt (2nd or 1st kyu) or above may attend, and in some cases, practitioners who
are not affiliated with Aikibojitsu, but have extensive experience in martial arts, may benefit from Level-3
Seminar work. Level-3 Seminars, in addition to providing advanced training in Katas, focus on advanced
training topics such as Training Methods, Kata Design, Sequencing, paired weapons, open-hand
technique, advanced ukemi (falling techniques.)
Instructor Development Seminars
Instructor Development Seminars are aimed at those who currently have or are working toward Ranking Examinations
satisfying the requirements for one of two teaching licenses issued by the Aikibojitsu Organization (see
below.) The annual Aikibojitsu Instructors' Conference is an example of this type of Seminar, which is
open to advanced practitioners only.
Advancement in rank up to and including the rank of first degree black belt revolves around performance of four Registered Hours
main Aikibojitsu Katas approved by the practitioner's instructor. In order to apply for the examination for black
belt, the practitioner must have accrued a minimum of 25 registered hours in each of the Katas, for a total of
100 registered hours overall.
All beginning Aikibojitsu practitioners (regardless of prior martial art experience) start out at 4th kyu (white belt).
Then upon satisfying the requirements for the 3rd kyu rank and passing the technical test for one of the required
Katas, the practitioner receives promotion to 3rd Kyu and may wear a green belt. Following fulfillment of the
requirements for 2nd Kyu and passing the examination for the required Kata, the practitioner is promoted to 2nd
kyu and may wear a brown belt. Following the same pattern, the practitioner is promoted to 1st Kyu (second
level of brown belt.) Finally, the practitioner begins work on the final Kata and begins working toward satisfying
the other requirements for the first degree black belt examination.
The black belt examination is comprehensive, covering Aikibojitsu's theoretical foundation (as described in the
text Aikido, Aikibojitsu and the Structure of Natural Law, through a written examination, and the practitioner's
general technical ability in each of the four selected Katas and their component Short Forms. In addition, the
black belt examination covers the examinee's skill in the fundamentals of paired weapons practice, and open-
hand technique, and (unless physically unable) basic ukemi (the art of falling.) Minimum 'registered hour'
requirements for first degree black belt are 25 for each of the four selected Aikibojitsu Katas, which add up to
100 registered hours minimum. Actual hours of practice required of the practitioner to pass the technical test for
black belt will likely be more than the required minimums. Aikibojitsu promotions are based upon the assumption
that practitioners have trained individually well beyond the formal instruction minimums.
Registered hours are hours of instruction that have been formally recognized by the Aikibojitsu Organization.
Registered hours are earned through participation in sanctioned Aikibojitsu Classes, Workshops, Seminars, and
Retreats, through Private Lessons with a certified Aikibojitsu Instructor, or through participation in the
Aikibojitsu Distance Learning Program. Practitioners who are working independently through the Shodan Video
Series, and practitioners who are receiving Private Instruction may convert hours of training to registered hours
by way of the Challenge Process (see below.). In addition to the registration of hours that takes place
automatically in sanctioned Seminars, Workshops and Retreats, hours may be accrued by way of the Challenge
Process (see below.) Registration of hours obtained through participation in Ongoing Classes is subject to some
restrictions (see below.)
Seminars, Workshops, Retreats
In a typical Aikibojitsu one-day Seminar, duration of training either is 3 hours (½ day seminar) or 6 hours
(full day seminar.) In the case of a ½ day Seminar, the number of registered hours accrued by the
practitioner upon completion of the Seminar is 3; in the case of a full day Seminar, hours accrued will be
up to 6. For the exact number of hours that will be accrued through participation in an individual
Seminar, consult registration materials or ask the Instructor.
A typical Aikibojitsu retreat takes place in a beautiful natural setting, high mountains reached through
backpacking, the beach, the forest. Retreats usually run from 5:00pm Thursday evening to noon on
Sunday. Such a retreat will be associated with up to 15 registered hours, depending upon the teaching
license of the event Instructor. For the number of hours associated with a given Retreat, consult pre-
registration materials, registration materials, or ask the event Instructor (s.)
In Seminars and Retreats, the event Instructor automatically takes care of registration of participants'
hours with the Aikibojitsu Organization. Participants need do nothing further to ensure that their formal
training record will be updated. The fee required for registration of hours is included in the cost of
Seminars and Retreats.
(Note: The terms Workshop and Seminar refer to the same thing in Aikibojitsu.)
A practitioner who lives in close proximity to a certified Aikibojitsu Instructor may participate in regularly
scheduled classes. Because such classes are not generally as focused upon the four main Katas, certain
restrictions apply to hours accrued in this way.
If ongoing classes are being held in a dojo, there will likely be an additional fee required, payable to the
sponsoring dojo for the supplemental Aikibojitsu class. In addition the practitioner will need to pay $5.00
per registered hour of training to the Aikibojitsu Organization, the total to be calculated at the end of the
training month (see information below.)
Ongoing classes count toward registered hours in accordance with the following restrictions:
1.A practitioner may accrue a maximum of one registered hour of training per training day, no
matter how many actual hours of classes are attended.
2.Registered hours obtained through regular class training may be accrued up to a maximum of
twelve registered hours per month.
(Note: The limitation on hours accrued through attendance of regularly scheduled classes applies only to
those classes. A practitioner may accrue additional registered hours through participation in Aikibojitsu
seminars, workshops, and retreats, as well as through private instruction, the Distance Learning
Program, and the challenge process.)
Once per month Instructors who are teaching regular classes will request a Registered Hours document
from practitioners who are interested in registering their training hours and thereby progressing through
the Aikibojitsu ranking system. Upon collection, these documents will be sent to the Aikibojitsu
Organization by the Instructor. A practitioner submitting the Hours Registration document should attach a
check or money order calculated at the rate of $5.00/per registered hour, payable to the Aikibojitsu
Organization. If the math is incorrect, the document will be returned to the practitioner. The hours
registration fee applies, above and beyond any fees charged by the sponsoring dojo for class attendance.
The Aikibojitsu Organization offers a program to automate charges against a credit card on file with the
Aikibojitsu Organization. In such a case, only the Hours Registration form need be sent in to register
(Note: It is entirely optional for practitioners to register their training hours with the Aikibojitsu
Organization. Registration of hours is something that has to do with the ranking system and Instructor
certification. Practitioners may attend Aikibojitsu functions of all types without incurring additional
payments to register hours. However, be aware that hours accrued that are not registered, will not be
counted toward meeting registered hours minimums for promotion.)
A practitioner may accrue registered hours through participation in Private Instruction by a Certified
Aikibojitsu Instructor. All Aikibojitsu Instructors are authorized to conduct both public and private
Because of the close personal attention that Private Instruction affords, the number of registered hours
that may be accrued per hour of private instruction is calculated as follows:
Private Instructor is a Certified Aikibojitsu Instructor
If the Instructor holds the Instructor License, hours that may be registered will be
1.5X the number of actual hours of instruction. For example, to a practitioner who
receives 1 hour of private instruction from a certified Aikibojitsu Instructor, that hour is
equivalent to 1.5 registered hours as recognized by the Aikibojitsu Organization (hours of
instruction must first be registered with the Aikibojitsu Organization.)
Private Instructor is a Certified Aikibojitsu Teacher
If the Instructor holds the full Teaching License, hours that may be registered will be 2X
the number of actual hours of instruction. For example, to a practitioner who receives 1
hour of private instruction from a certified Aikibojitsu Teacher, that hour is equivalent to 2
registered hours as recognized by the Aikibojitsu Organization (hours of instruction must
be first be registered with the Aikibojitsu Organization.)
Practitiioner training history including Registered hours accrued through private instruction are
maintained by certified Instructors. Hours accrued through private instruction are automatically registered
with the Aikibojitsu Organization by the Instructor. It is the Instructor's responsibility both to maintain a
training history for each practitioner, and to ensure that the practitioner's hours of instruction are
properly registered. It is the practitioner's responsibility to pay to Register hours accrued by private
instruction. Consult your Instructor to answer any questions regarding fees applicable to registration of
hours accrued through private instruction.
The Aikibojitsu Organization has created an Instructional series called the Shodan Video Series, in order
to aid practitioners in their efforts to learn Aikibojitsu and progress toward black belt level. This series,
offered as a package at the website's store, consists of a number of DVD disks, plus the text Aikido,
Aikibojitsu, and the Structure of Natural Law. Practitioners who are studying on their own, work through
the material at their own pace, learning the Katas and Short Forms directly from the DVDs. Such
practitioners simultaneously read through the text to acquire knowledge regarding Aikibojitsu's
The actual number of hours of training that a practitioner who is working independently does cannot be
determined by the Aikibojitsu Organization. Thus it is necessary that such a practitioner take an extra step
and register his or her hours with the Aikibojitsu Organization. Registration of hours is a simple step,
achieved through the Challenge Process, as specified below.
The Aikibojitsu Distance Learning Program (DLP)
The Aikibojitsu Distance Learning Program is a special program designed to bring practitioners into
closer contact with certified Instructors through the Internet environment. Practitioners enrolled in this
program benefit by having their training closely monitored by a certified Aikibojitsu Instructor.
Practitioners may choose to apply to the Distance Learning Program because they are too far away from
a certified Instructor, or because of the close personal supervision of the practitioner's training program
by a licensed Instructor. The ready availability of the Instructor for questions regarding training and
ongoing direct evaluation of the practitioner's progress, is very valuable to practitioners, so much so that
this method of training is regarded as desirable even by some practitioners who are training in regularly
scheduled classes, primarily because of the close level of personal interaction with a certified Instructor.
The practitioner who signs up for the Distance Learning Program may choose a number of different
options that alter how the training will proceed over time. The availability of a wide range of options
allows considerable customization with regard to a practitioner's course of study. Note that the time
required of the supervising Instructor varies depending on the specifics of the DLP agreement, more
Instructor involvement being more expensive. Actual cost of an individual Distance Learning Program is
determined by options selected by the practitioner.
Space in the Distance Learning Program is limited. A practitioner interested in applying for admission to
the Distance Learning Program should therefore apply for admission as early as possible. Should space
not be currently available, the practitioner will be put on the waiting list and admitted as space becomes
To learn more about the Distance Learning Program , see Distance Learning Program on this site.
In a manner similar to the way in which classes are challenged on the University level, a practitioner may Kyu Rank Examinations
request a consultation with a certified Instructor wherein the practitioner's progress may be evaluated.
This consultation may take in person, through streaming video (real-time if computers are capable of it),
or though video file transfer.
Upon viewing either the practitioner's performance in person, or upon viewing a video segment of the
practitioner's current work, a certified Aikibojitsu Instructor is authorized to 'sign-off' on registered hours
required to fulfill required minimums for advancement in rank. Instructors are authorized to sign off
hours at their discretion, pending review by the Aikibojitsu Organization.
In order to certify the challenged hours, the practitioner fills out a Challenge Form, pays a nominal
challenge fee to the evaluating Instructor, and if successful in the challenge, a fee to register successfully
challenged hours with the Aikibojitsu Organization.
In a challenge, the evaluating Instructor considers specific factors regarding the practitioner's current
level of training, with regard to the upcoming level of rank. The Instructor will then sign off on the
number of hours that will go toward minimums for that rank.
For example, if a practitioner had completed 6 of the 25 minimum registered hours for one of the kyu
ranks, he or she might want to challenge the remaining 19 hours. Upon evaluation, the evaluating
Instructor might agree to sign-off on 15 of those hours. The practitioner would then fill out the Challenge
form, obtain the evaluating Instructor's signature, and send the form with hours registration payment in
the amount of $75.00 ($5.00 * 15 hours) payable to the Aikibojitsu Organization. Upon receipt of the
Challenge Form, the Organization will authorize the practitioner's instructor to append a record to the
practitioner's formal training history noting the successful challenge.
Note that after the challenge, the practitioner would still need to obtain 4 registered hours before
qualifying for the upcoming rank. These hours could be accrued through participation in Seminars,
Retreats, ongoing classes, private instruction, or at a later date even through a repeat of the challenge
Practitioners who wish to take a kyu rank examination may do so at the end of a Seminar or Retreat by Dan Rank Examinations
requesting examination from a certified Instructor. Alternatively, practitioners may contact the Aikibojitsu
Organization and request an examination using one of the Internet alternatives of video file transfer.
Applications for promotion must be submitted to the Aikibojitsu Organization (or to one's personal Instructor) at
least two weeks in advance of the time of intended examination. The application for Examination must be
accompanied by the examination fee (currently $65.00 for the kyu rank examination.) If the practitioner intends
to take the examination at the end of a Seminar or Retreat, he or she should notify the event Instructor of his or
her desire to take the examination at the Seminar or Retreat.
From time to time applicants fail when attempting the technical examinations. In such a case, the examination
fee applies toward a second examination that is scheduled for a later date. Should the practitioner fail a second
time, the entire process must be begun again, including payment of fee. Examination fees are non-refundable.
A practitioner who has accrued the minimum number of registered hours (currently 100), with 25 specific to
each selected main Kata, may apply for the examination for first degree black belt. Black belt examinations are
nominally held twice per year. Contact the Aikibojitsu Organization if you feel you have met the requirements
and have prepared for the examination.
Because dan (black belt) rank examinations are comprehensive, it is strongly suggested that practitioners obtain
either direct personal instruction, or instruction by way of the Distance Learning Program to prepare for dan
level examinations. Temporary personal instruction may be obtained either through the Distance Learning
Program, or through private instruction by a certified Instructor. Contact the Aikibojitsu Organization with
regard to individual circumstances.
The Aikibojitsu Teaching Licenses
The Certified Instructor License
A practitioner who holds the Certified Instructor License, operates under the general supervision of
the Aikibojitsu Organization by way of a practitioner who holds the Certified Teacher license. Subject
to that supervision, the Certified Instructor is authorized by the Aikibojitsu Organization to schedule
and conduct regular classes, both public and private, and to schedule and conduct formal Aikibojitsu
seminars and retreats.
The Certified Instructor is authorized to register practitioner hours as per the rules specified above,
subject to practitioners' payment of applicable registration fees to the Aikibojitsu Organization. The
Certified Instructor may recommend practitioners for rank up to and including the rank immediately
below their own rank. A practitioner who receives Private Instruction from a Certified Instructor
accrues registered hours at a rate 1.5X the actual hours of instruction received, subject to
registration of those hours as specified above.
In order to obtain the Instructor Certificate, the practitioner must submit a formal application to the
Aikibojitsu Organization upon passing the examination for black belt in Aikibojitsu. The following
minimum requirements must be met before the Aikibojitsu Organization will consider the application:
- The applicant must have obtained a passing grade on the Shodan examinationThe Teaching License
- The applicant must submit a letter of recommendation from a Certified Aikibojitsu Instructor
or a Certified Aikibojitsu Teacher.
- The applicant must submit two letters of recommendation from persons unrelated to the
applicant. The letters of recommendation should address the applicant's moral
character and judgement.
- The applicant must be in good standing with the Aikibojitsu Organization.
The full Teaching License is awarded to practitioners who have met the following minimum
- Formal recommendation from a practitioner who holds the full Teaching License-
- The practitioner must hold a minimum rank of 5th degree black belt in Aikibojitsu.
- The practitioner must hold at least first degree black belt or higher (or equivalent) in another
generally recognized martial art system.
- The practitioner must have held the Instructor License for a minimum of four years, and be
able to produce documentation showing an active teaching role.
- Contribution to the Aikibojitsu body of knowledge through published writings, video
documentation of original work, and/or a history of public demonstrations
of Aikibojitsu aimed at spreading Aikibojitsu as an art form.
A practitioner who holds the full Teaching License may conduct formal ranking examinations at any
time, and to any level up to and including their own rank. Further, he or she is authorized to register
student hours without restriction, subject to practitioners' payment of applicable registration fees to
the Aikibojitsu Organization as specified above. The practitioner who holds the full teaching license
has an implicit role as formal supervisor to all those who hold the Instructor Certificate, on all matters
of teaching, registration of practitioner hours, and recommendations regarding rank.
Teachers and Schedule of Events
The Aikibojitsu Organization
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Frequently Asked Questions