Blackbelt Exam Caller


The Caller (Gioji) for the AJJF Blackbelt Examinations directs the exam process. This page details the responsibilities of the Caller and describes how the exam is conducted.

Structure of the Examination

The following outline represents the structure and flow of an AJJF Blackbelt examination.

  1. Uke selection
  2. Uke evaluated for suitability
  3. Instructions to Candidate
  4. Exam begins, all bow in
  5. For each list:
    1. Demonstration of arts on the list
    2. Interview about this list, may include further demonstrations
  6. Uke is bowed off the mat
  7. Concluding interview
  8. Candidate is bowed off the mat
  9. Paperwork completed

Caller’s Role and Responsibilities

A. Be an advocate for the Candidate

  1. Ask the Head Examiner to review the actions of the examination committee if you observe actions that are not fair to the Candidate.
    • During the examination Examiners may not:
      1. Teach during the examination process.
      2. Use Negative comments, facial expressions or tone of voice to discourage the Candidate.
      3. Discuss subjects that are unrelated to the examination.
    • During the examination Examiners must:
      1. Give a written reason for failing the Candidate on a technique or list.
      2. Base their evaluation of the techniques in the Kata Manual, when possible.
      3. Stop the examination if the Candidate fails more than one (1) technique on a list or more than five (5) techniques on the examination.
  2. Inform the Examinations director if the inappropriate activities continue.

B. Regulate the Timing of the Examination

  • As a rule of thumb, each interview section should not last any longer than the corresponding demonstration section.
  • If the examiners consistently ask for more than 3 repeats during the interview section, the Caller may remind the examiners to limit their requests for repeats.
  • An examination should not take longer than 90 minutes (1½ hours).

C. Safety on the Mat

  • Inspect mat.
  • Identify and inspect a wall for Kabe Shime.
  • Inspect all weapons (before the exam begins).
  • Check with the Head Examiner before the exam for approval of the weapons selected for use.
  • Firearms – some Professors will not allow a real gun on the mat. If the Candidate intends on using a real gun then the following protocol is recommended:
    • Before the exam, EVERYONE inspects the weapon.
    • Immediately before the weapon is used in the exam the weapon is inspected again. At the very least the Caller, Uke and the Candidate shall inspect the weapon. The Caller shall then offer the weapon to each of the examiners for them to inspect as well.
    • Uke may choose not to work with the weapon and request a faux weapon be used.
  • The Caller is responsible for the safe keeping of all weapons during the examination.
  • The Caller should know where to find the person responsible for administering First-Aid during the exams and the location of the First-Aid kit.

Before the Examination Starts

  • Receive, check, and store all weapons from the Candidate that will be used during the examination.
  • Ask the Candidate about any injuries.
  • Test/Evaluate the uke. The uke must demonstrate:
    • a no-hand sutemi
    • a jumping backfall
    • two (2) techniques from the highest list on the exam with the Candidate as uke.
  • Ask the uke about any injuries.
  • Recommend a new uke to the Candidate if required.
  • Inform the Candidate that they can ask to repeat a technique at any time.
  • Inform the Candidate that they can request a new uke at any time during the examination.
  • Inform the Candidate that they must instruct the uke if the technique requires the uke to counter or do part of the technique.
  • Inform the Candidate that they may take quick breaks at their discretion.
  • Recognize the highest ranking Examiner as the Head Examiner. Decisions of the examiners should be communicated by the Head Examiner to the Caller and the Candidate.

Demonstration Section of Examination

Uninterrupted demonstration of the listed techniques.

  • Read the Japanese names of the techniques to the Candidate from the examination form.
  • The technique is demonstrated for the Examiners.
  • Read the English translation (from the examination form) if requested by the Candidate.
  • Repeat the technique if requested by the Candidate.
  • Ask the Examiners, at the end of the list, if they would like to see any of the techniques repeated for reasons not related to the Candidate: (the Examiner did not see an aspect of the technique, uke made a mistake, etc.)

Interview Section of Examination

The Examiners will interview the candidate directly.

  • Ask the examiners if they would like to interview the Candidate before continuing to the next list.
  • The purpose of the interview is to determine if the Candidate should continue to the next list.
    1. The examiners may indicate that they do not need to interview and are ready for the next list.
    2. They may conference to compare notes and then:
      1. Request a suggested maximum of three (3) techniques (six (6) for Shinnin on Nidan/Sandan exams). These techniques may be repeats of the ones demonstrated previously or additional techniques from the list being examined.
      2. Ask the Candidate specific questions about the list or techniques.
  • Read the complete Kata Manual description of a technique if requested by the Candidate or an Examiner.
  • Ask the Head Examiner if they were any Failed techniques on the list. The Caller then records the fails on the their examination form.
  • Remind the Head Examiner to stop the examination if the Candidate failed more than one (1) technique on that list or more than five (5) techniques on the whole examination. A reason shall be given for failing the Candidate on a technique or list. Record the reason.
  • Ask the Head Examiner if the examination should continue to the next list of required techniques.

After the Examination Completes

  • Bow the Candidate off the mat.
  • Sign and date the caller’s copy of the examination form.
  • Collect the Examiner’s copies of the examination form. Verify the following on each form:
    • Signed
    • Dated
    • Pass/Fail indicated
    • If the Candidate Failed then check that the reasons are documented.
  • Record time and duration (minutes) on caller’s copy of the examination form.
  • Return all the paperwork to the Exam Coordinator.

Further Information


  • Examinations Committee Chair – regarding exam procedures
  • Regional Manager or Regional Examination Coordinator