Grading in aikido is optional, but it provides a useful focus for your training and a way to evaluate your own progress.
Grades are divided into kyu (white belt) and dan (black belt) grades. Kyu grades count down from 5th kyu to 1st kyu and then dan grades progress from 1st dan upwards. Grades are awarded after technical examination up to around 4th dan; higher grades are generally awarded, upon recommendation, directly by the Aikikai headquarters.
The recommended training interval between gradings increases as you progress; a 5th kyu grading is normally undertaken after a minimum of five or six months’ regular training. With committed training, it may take around seven years to reach dan level. (Having a black belt in aikido does not make you a master! It confirms a knowledge of all of the technical syllabus and marks the start of a more advanced level of practice.)
- Hombu Dojo’s recommendations for minimum practice days.
- For techniques required for each grade, see the Dublin Aikikai’s kyu grading syllabus.
- Terminology and technical diagrams on this site.
- Instructional videos playlist on our YouTube channel (videos from Hombu Dojo and Christian Tissier) and Hans-Jürgen Klages’s playlists.
(And if you find yourself worrying about grading, you should read these reflections on the origins and impact of the modern grading system.)