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.

    The Level-2 Seminar
    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
    of study.

    The Level-3 Seminar
    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
    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.

Ranking Examinations
    Advancement in rank up to and including the rank of first degree black belt revolves around performance of four
    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
    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.)

    Ongoing Classes
    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.)

    Private Instruction
    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.

    Independent Study
    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
    Theoretical Foundations.

    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.

    The Challenge Process
    In a manner similar to the way in which classes are challenged on the University level, a practitioner may
    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

Kyu Rank Examinations
    Practitioners who wish to take a kyu rank examination may do so at the end of a Seminar or Retreat by
    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.

Dan Rank Examinations
    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 examination
    - 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 Teaching License
    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.
What is Aikibojitsu
Founder Tom Read
The Book
Origins of Aikibojitsu
The Staff of Aikibojitsu
The Short Forms
The Aikibojitsu Organization
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
Schedule of Upcoming Events
Licensed Aikibojitsu Instructors
Katas of the Daiki Taiyu
Finding a Teacher
Technical Aikibojitsu
Teachers and Schedule of Events
The Aikibojitsu Organization
Ranking and Licensing
Aikibojitsu - The Art of the Staff
Frequently Asked Questions
The Store: Books, DVDs
The Heart of Aikido
Home Page
Distance Learning Program
The Store