AJJF Blackbelt Examinations Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Schedules and Registration | Contests | First Aid and CPR
Anatomy Exams | Activity Log


Exam Schedules and Registration

Q: How often is the exam schedule updated?
A: The AJJF handbook requests that exams be scheduled at least 60 days in advance.  When an new exam date is confirmed, a message is usually sent to the blackbelts list and the exams web page is updated within 2-3 days.

Q: What paperwork is required to register for a blackbelt examination?
A: A completed “Examination for Blackbelt Form” must be submitted to the designated Exam Coordinator to confirm an exam slot. A “Concussion Awareness Form” will also need to be submitted to the designated Exam Coordinator for your region.  For the rank of Yodan, the “Shodan Promotion Form” should be submitted along with the application.

Q: Is the application the only thing needed to hold a spot?
A: Generally, Yes.  You should contact the designated Exam Coordinator to find out what additional paperwork should be sent ahead of time.  Most coordinators will request that you send photocopies of paperwork supporting completion of the other exam requirements prior to the exam day.  This greatly reduces the risk that missing paperwork will prevent you from examining on the scheduled exam day.

Q: I am retaking an examination.  Do I need to resubmit all my paperwork?
A: If it has been more than 1 year since your last examination for this rank, you are required to submit a full set of paperwork.  If it has been less than 1 year, you should contact the Examinations Committee Chair.  A list of outstanding or expired items can be sent to you and the Exam Coordinator conducting the examinations.  The minimum requirements are:  A completed exam application, re-test fee, and new sensei letter recommending you for examination at this time.

Q: My dojo would like to host an exam date, what should I do?
A: Contact your regional Exam Coordinator.  Exams should be scheduled at least 60 days in advance, so get your regional contact involved early.  Examinations are often held in conjunction with a clinic or contest in order to maximize the value to those traveling longer distances, as well as offset the cost of conducting an exams-only event.  The AJJF guidelines suggest examinations in each region up to 4 times per year, or roughly once per quarter.  The Exam Coordinators are responsible for making sure the exam dates and locations best serve the needs of the local sensei and students, as well as make responsible use of examination funds. 


Q: What contests meet the Shodan/Nidan exam requirement?
A: Any AJJF Sanctioned Contest, conducted according the respective rules published in the AJJF School Handbook is satisfies the contest requirement.

Q: Are Sumo contests accepted?
A: Yes.  As long as it is conducted according to the AJJF rules for Sumo contests published in the AJJF School Handbook. 

Q: I don’t have the standard set of 3 score sheets from my contest, what should I do?
A: If you competed in a Spontaneous Kata Contest or Sumo Contest, you should submit a copy of the one page judging sheet or final placements.  If you have lost your score sheets, contact the regional Exam Coordinator well in advance of your exam.  A certificate of participation or letter from the Contest Host may be accepted in lieu of the standard contest score sheets.

Q: There is a contest scheduled shortly after my exam date.  Can I compete after my exam to meet my exam requirement.
A: No.  All exam requirements must be met prior to mat examination.  In years where there have been very few contests held, exceptions have been made in the case of Convention exam candidates competing the day following examination.  If there are extenuating circumstances, such as injuries that have prevent competition during the past year, contact the Exam Committee chair.  Consideration by the BOP can be made on a case by case basis.

First Aid and CPR

Q: Is the Red Cross First Aid & CPR the only one excepted for AJJF exams?
A: No.  Red Cross, American Heart Association and National Safety Council are just three of many certifications that are accepted.  Most programs that include both cognitive and practical examination (written and hands-on examination) and require periodical renewal are accepted.  If you have questions about a specific organization, contact your regional Exam Coordinator or the exams chair.

Q: My job requires that I know First Aid & CPR, do I still need to take First Aid & CPR classes?
A: If you are a licensed health care professional that requires current First Aid & CPR for licensure, you may not be required to submit First Aid & CPR cards.  Regulations regarding licensing of health care persons varies from state to state.  You may submit a photocopy of your unexpired license, along with documentation that specifies First Aid & CPR were prerequisites in lieu of

Q: I have taken the classes, but not received my cards.  Can I still examine?
A: You should plan to take your certification courses at least 4-6 weeks prior to your mat examination to allow time for issuance of cards.  If you do not expect to receive your cards in time, a letter from the certifying organization with the instructor’s name and date of successful course completion may be accepted. 

Q: What should I do if I’ve lost my First Aid & CPR cards?
A: Most organizations will issue replacement cards.  You should contact the certifying organization regarding their process for obtaining replacement cards.

Anatomy Examinations

Q: What material is on the Sandan Anatomy examination.
A: All exam material can be found in the “Anatomy Coloring Book, Fourth Edition”.  Specific pages & plates to study are listed in the “Anatomy Exam” section of the AJJF School Handbook.  Page numbers are also provided for those who are already in possession of the one of the prior editions.

Q: I am a massage graduate, must I still take the Sandan Anatomy examination?
A: Yes, though graduates of the DZRSI Module I course that have completed the anatomy examination prior to September 2005 have been grandfathered for 1 year from the date of their anatomy examination.  As of October 2006, all candidates for Sandan are required to pass the Sandan Anatomy Examination prior to their mat examination.

Q: May I take the anatomy examination prior to the day of my Sandan examination?
A: Yes.  Those expecting to examine for Sandan within the following year may request to take the anatomy examination in advance.  Anatomy exams are administered by the regional Exam Coordinator on days that exams are conducted.  You should contact the designated Exam Coordinator well in advance of the day you wish to take the written examination.  If an exam day is heavily attended, priority will be given to those scheduled to take mat examinations on that day.

Q: How long is the examination valid?
A: Anatomy examinations are valid for 1 year from the date it was last passed.

Activity Log

Q: How many events do I need for my exam?
A: 3 events per year, for each year of time in grade required for the specific rank.  Service in an elected or appointed position on the Operations Committee may be accepted for 1 event in each year a position was held.

Q: What do I do if I forgot to have the event director sign my activity sheet?
A: A certificate of participation is accepted in lieu of a director’s signature.  An e-mail from the event director after the fact is also usually acceptable.  As a last resort, if you are unable to obtain signatures from the proper sources, your sensei may sign for the outstanding items on your activity sheet or budo pass.

Q: What is a Budo Pass?
A: The Budo Pass is a small passport style book for recording memorable dates, signatures and tracking events attended.  They are available from the AJJF Store.