What Does A Grading Look Like?

Gradings are an important formal event in an Aikido practitioners development. It usually takes place on a course or special event where a visiting Shidoin will examine the candidates aided by Fukushidoin. 

All spectators who are expected to sit on the mat in seiza if they are dressed in their keiko-gi unless they have a medical condition and have been excused by the examiners. This is done to show respect and support for the candidates. If you are a spectator and seiza becomes uncomfortable during the examination raise your hand and you will be given permission to sit in agura (cross-legged).

When there name is called out the candidate stands and shouts Hai (meaning yes, this shows good spirit) and moves into position (usually by shikko) indicated facing the kamiza.

The candidates grading partner will move into position also when told. the examiner will call out “Shomen ni rei” and the candidates (and partners) bow to the kamiza. the examiner will then call out “O ta gai ni rei” and the candidates and their respective partners bow to each other.

The examiner will relay a set of instructions to the candidates for them to follow. Commonly candidate may be asked to demonstrate ukemi, posture, tai no taiso, tai subaki exercises.

Candidates will be asked to demonstrate techniques called out by the examiner and told if they are tori or uke, it is important to show the called technique, omote (irimi) and ura (tenkan) continuously until the examiner calls kotae (change over) or Yamai (stop).

The techniques called are usually on the grading syllabus though sometimes an examiner may ask for something more unusual. If this happens it is important not to panic but to do your best, the examiner may be looking to see how the candidate reacts.

At the end of the grading the examiner will tell the candidates and their partners to line up once again in their original places. 


The examiner will call out “Shomen ni rei” and the candidates (and partners) bow to the kamiza.


The examiner will then call out “O ta gai ni rei” and the candidates and their respective partners bow to each other. Then the examiner may call “Sensei ni rei” bow to the examiner and sit back in the ranks. The examiner will announce the grades calling out the candidates name the candidate stands and shouts Hai .


The examiner will either announce the candidates new grade or say “please try again” in either case the candidate performs a standing bow and the spectators applaud. The candidate sits once again.

(i) Ensure that your all grading forms are correctly completed and handed in on time Form 1 should be signed by your club Instructor (and for Yudansha Form 1A countersigned by either the Technical Director or a current B.A.F. Shidoin), it should be accompanied by your membership card and grading fee (Yudansha should also present their Hombu Yudansha Book).


(ii) Ensure that the keiko-gi you wear for your grading is clean and in a good state of repair. If you have a keiko-gi top with your name clearly written in Japanese on the sleeve you should wear this. Otherwise it is necessary to have your name written on your sleeve, in Japanese, prior to the grading. 


(iii) If taking a senior grade (Ikkyu / Yudansha) make sure that you have tanto, bokken and jo ready in case weapons techniques are required. When executing weapon techniques, always observe correct etiquette and never throw a weapon across the dojo floor or to your partner. Hand the weapon back properly or place it carefully on the tatami. 


(iiii) TAKE YOUR TIME. A grading is not a race. It is far better to demonstrate techniques at a measured pace and correctly rather than at a frantic speed, which is more likely to result in errors and exhaustion. Listen carefully to the examiner calling out the techniques required and any other instructions. If you do not understand or do not hear, ask for the instruction to be repeated.


(v) Always be aware of activity going on around you on the tatami. Do not become so focused on yourself that you endanger others.