Technical Area - Grading


preston course shihonage variation

Grading Syllabus

This area provides access to the senior and junior grading syllabus.

As in other martial arts, we have a grading system. ⟨Please note: The syllabus in the white members' handbook has been superseded. ⟩

Following a syllabus allows you to have recognition that you are progressing and learning.

The first grade you will take, 6th Kyu, is validated by Lancashire Aikikai. All the following senior grades, from 5th Kyu to Dan grade level are awarded jointly by Lancashire Aikikai and the Aikikai Headquarters (Hombu Dojo, Tokyo).

The Junior grading syllabus is validated by the Lancashire Aikikai

Student's should also read background information provided under Member home tab that is not repeated here.


The Aikikai considers learning weapons important as it serves to accelerate skills and understanding of ones Aikido

The syllabus has a requirements for weapons. The aim is being to judge the candidates understanding of weapons in relation to Aikido at the grade being undertaken rather than a test of memory.


The Grading Review Group have been asked to clarify what "equivalent" means in the context of weapon part of the grading requirements 5th Kyu to 2nd Kyu where it appears. The following is aimmed at Club Leaders

The weapons part of our syllabus whilst based on the Iwama system creates some flexibility for candidates by allowing other weapons systems acknowledged as having a connection with Aikido to be introduced by agreement with the Club Leader.    (Note: Iaido would not fulfil this connection requirement.)

What is being tested is understanding and form of both ken and jo – through initially as suburi and subsequent grades as partner practise.

Implicit in the Syllabus requirement and hence any 'equivalent' is an increasing progressive base of knowledge and skill of both ken and jo – in the same way that the aikido element is tested for. The grading form carries explanations of 10 competencies that are being tested in a grading – most are appropriate for weapons, as well.

The competence threshold thus rises with each grade – i.e. a 5th Kyu doing Ikkyo should not be the same as a 1st Kyu doing Ikkyo although the shape of the move is broadly similar so it is with weapons.

Who may grade:

Grade held by Grader at least

Can Grade up to:

5th Dan

3rd Dan

4th Dan

2nd Dan

3rd Dan

1st Dan

2nd Dan

1st Kyu

Our Principal, Mr. Spence, and our Technical Director, Mimuro Sensei, are responsible for grading those who are 4th Dan or higher.

Mimuro Sensei will grade all Dan Grades sitting with a grading panel. Sensei will ask for feedback from the panel following the grading but the Panel will not indicate whether they think the person should pass or fail. A honest feedback on their performance will be given. ⟨ This is not done in private ⟩

1st Kyu gradings are now conducted on Lancashire Aikikai courses by a Grading Panel.

Gradings in Clubs

Gradings - will generally take place in the local club up to and including 2nd Kyu gradings.

1st Kyu gradings will take place on Aikikai courses. See next section

Consistency and moderation of standards for grades will be through Association courses and direction of our Technical Director and Principal of our Association. Our Technical director recognises the standards we have adopted and we should continue to maintain these.

Guidance given in the past by our Principal for gradings......"The grading syllabus is a guide to what might be assessed and hence each item was not mandatory. However that similarly didn't mean that for example weapons would not be examined. There is to be flexibility between younger students and those more experienced but older."

The Senior syllabus should apply to those on a Senior mat. However Examiners and Coaches should familiarise themselves with BAB requirements in respect of Aikido for under 18 year olds and take note of the comment that each item is not mandatory.

Aikikai grading fees - can be found on student grading page these paid by the Club to the Treasurer when invoiced by the LA Hombu Membership Representative

Hombu grading fees and associated membership are set in Japan and payable in Yen - details can be found in “7. Grading Admin” - they vary because of currency exchange rates.

It is recommended Clubs should think about running gradings in April and October to coincide with the submission cycle to Japan.

1st Kyu Grading

1st Kyu gradings will take place on Aikikai courses and are organised by the Aikikai by appointing a Panel in advance so they may organise themselves and ascertain details of the candidate.

The panel should be briefed by the Club Leader on:

  • health issues
  • grading history
  • weapon content that will be shown

The Panel should discuss, in advance, how the grading will be organised and tasks allocated with the Panel. It is recommended that the calling of techniques should be by one person at any one time – to avoid confusion.

Guidance given in the past by our Principal for gradings......"The grading syllabus is a guide to what might be assessed and hence each item was not mandatory. However that similarly didn't mean that for example weapons would not be examined. There is to be flexibility between younger students and those more experienced but older."

Dan Gradings

Dan Gradings would be taken on designated Aikikai courses in conjunction with the Technical Director who will sit with a grading panel.

1st Kyu's being graded for 1st Dan will not wear hakama. (See hakama in FAQ)

Club Leaders following a student gaining 2nd Kyu will liaise for future gradings with the Grading Review Group (Item 2)

The Group's Purpose and Role is to support the grading process and standards within the Lancashire Aikikai. Particularly with those who are approaching 1st Kyu and higher by ensuring standards are met before any grading. They will work with Club Leaders on standards. Observe future grading candidates for 1st Kyu and higher to provide feedback on improvements needed prior to any grading.

Having taken 1st Kyu - Senior Dan Grade’s will continue to monitor candidates to ensure the skills and knowledge are being developed for the next grade. (At the direction of our Principal)

Dan grade candidates will give short demonstrations at Dan Grade courses or other courses to prove their ability and readiness to take Dan Grade and / or progression to this goal. Hence the importance of Club Leaders letting our Principal / Grading Review Group know well in advance potential candidates.

Provided the candidate is deemed ready a Dan Grading will then be scheduled at the next opportunity after discussion with our Technical Director.

This opportunity to grade will be tied into Mimuro Sensei visiting the UK

Club Leaders will submit a candidate history (and list any relevant restrictions or relevalent information), prior to the grading date for Mimuro Sensei and the panel to both our Principal and our Hombu Membership Representative

Mimuro Sensei Gradings

Ensure Chris Wallace, LA Hombu Rep, has got prior to the grading: your LA blue membership book and Hombu card (and Yudansha book if already a dan grade) and the necessary Hombu grading application form (If going for 1st Dan an application for Yudansha book also required.) That the Aikikai have your grading fee in good time.

  • If there is a practice before a grading Sensei will probably make a point of showing the techniques in the way he wants to see them in the grading - but he will not penalise anyone who does a technique in a different way. What he expects to see is basic technique done accurately.
  • He is not impressed by speed and dozens of fancy variations if the basics are not shown.
  • He will be pleased to see an attempt to follow his principles and to see the LA progressing towards his style of practise.

See Guidance and Guidelines for Dan Gradings for more information

  • Listen carefully to instructions - the procedure will be different from Lancashire Aikikai gradings. If it is evident that you are struggling to understand an instruction then it can be repeated by someone on the panel.
  • Mimuro Sensei does not usually specify each technique individually. Usually he will say shomenuchi ikkyo two times, nikkyo 2 times, sankyo, yonkyo etc and expect you to go through the sequence omote and ura. Continue until instructed to change.

Application Forms

Our affiliation with Aikikai Headquarters is via Yokohama International Aikido Club, therefore membership of this club and of Aikikai Foundation is due before any Senior grading from 5th kyu onwards. These are one-off payments for lifetime membership.

Members who have been graded by other organisations then Yokohama membership is required. Hombu membership is not required till you grade further.

Members who already hold a Hombu grade, and are therefore already a Hombu member, should give a copy of their membership card / grading certificate for the Lancashire Aikikai records held by our Hombu Membership Representative. Only Yokohama membership will be  required in these circumstances.

Guidance to filling your forms in. To assist as well examples of completed forms are provided below. Click on blue highlighted links

Application Forms needed from 5th Kyu can be downloaded here:

Application Forms needed for those who already are Hombu recognised can be downloaded here:

  • Grading Form (Form 1) (Hombu grading other than first time) Example
  • Yudansha Book (Form 3) {Dan grades only and once only} Example

The forms should be downloaded and completed by typing the information in. (pdf allows for this). This is so that the entered information is clear and legible for the process.

Forms need to be signed, and returned either electronically or by post to our Hombu Membership Representative from the Club Leader or known Official. Electronic would be preferred as they will be sent electronically to Japan

Fees are dealt with at “6. Grading Admin”

Grading Admin:

Following a club grading details of name, new grade, date of grading and who graded is sent off to the Membership Secretary to put into the Aikikai records by recording in the monthly return clubs send. Remember, also, either to pass details to the Newsletter contact in your club details or send directly to the Aikikai Newsletter editor.

Prepare and present a grading certificate when one is not provided by Hombu. This will be for the Junior grades and the 6th Kyu senior grade. A template is available to Clubs on the Resource site.

The Aikikai grading fees by cheque / BACS are passed to the Membership Secretary as part of the Club's monthly return if that how you normally pay money. When Clubs receive an invoice from the Hombu Membership Rep for Hombu grading fees they should pay the Lancashire Aikikai by preferably BACS and tell the Treasurer. For other grading fees please pay them in your monthly submissions

Hombu grades

For these grades (5th Kyu and above) costs vary according to currency exchange rates. The Aikikai fixes the fees for a Kyu grade twice a year in May & November based on exchange rates to run for 6 months.

Dan Grade Fees will be confirmed at time of submission and are given as an indication only and will be governed by the currency rate unlike the Kyu grade fees that are fixed every 6 months.

    The ¥ fees are:
  • Hombu and Yokohama Life time membership fees (one off payment needed for the first Hombu grade) ¥10000¥
  • Kyu grade fee ¥3000
  • 1st Dan ¥15000
  • 2nd Dan ¥22400
  • 3rd Dan ¥35000
  • 4th Dan ¥46000
  • for 5th to 7th Dan see detailed break down

For the first Hombu grade both the Hombu and Yokohama membership are subsidised by the Lancashire Aikikai paying half

For 1st May 2023 until 31st October 2023. Tax no longer paid (¥170.00 to the £) Clubs need to pay for 5th Kyu's £47.06 (inc membership subsidy) ; other Kyu Grades £17.65, 1st Dan £88.24, 2nd Dan £142.18, 3rd Dan £205.88, 4th Dan £270.59

For a detailed break down click here

Clubs send completed Forms electronically to the Hombu Membership Representative. After the Hombu Membership Representative has submitted the batch of forms (May & Oct). He will issue invoices to each Club for payment to the Treasurer.

It is recommended Clubs should think about running gradings in the weeks immediately prior to the submission dates of 30th April and 31st October, although there is no restriction on when gradings may take place

Hombu Cards & Yudansha Book – These need to be kept safe, as they need to be sent back with every grade application for updating.

Documents to be returned with the Forms

  • Yudansha Books (Dan Grades) {Note they should have lready the owner's photo stuck in. 4cm by 3cm. Smaller than passport size}
  • Membership Cards (Old card versions)
  • If Membership Cards are the new plastic type (Issued from start of 2017), we just need the Membership No, date, present grade and date of previous grade (Although this should be on the returned form)

Hombu Certificate translation

Little bit different on Dan and Kyu grade ones but the nuance is the same.

In general it says from RHS to LHS, column by column

  • Aikikai's name
  • Number of certificate
  • Evidence/certification
  • Persons name
  • The person on the right this time aikido give ..... kyu/dan date aikido doshu Ueshiba Moriteru

See example of certificate and translation

Further explanation received courtsey of Catherine Mimuro. (Click on image to open pdf in new tab)

wording on certificate

Membership book

Blue Lancashire Aikikai Membership books are issued to all members. These Books are used for all Grades to record annual membership, hold their current BAB Insurance Certificates, course attendance and grades. As part of joining a passport photograph is expected to be stuck in the book

Yudansha Books are issued and apply from Shodan and in some aspects overlap with the blue book. Some Dan Grades’s have expressed a desire to keep both books going (and stamped) there is no objection to this. The Yudansha book should at the least record the grade and be stamped for courses run by our Technical Director and other high ranking teachers

Both Books are to be kept

Similarly to the Hombu card for Kyu grades to be recorded on the Yudansha book are to be returned to record new gradings - so keep safe.