Examination for black belt

Description This section outlines the information necessary to take an AJJF black belt examination.
For all references, below, to “forms” refer in this handbook to the Forms section. Further Information Timeline for Action:

1. Candidate’s Responsibilities Before Exam

  1. Successfully complete a First Aid and CPR class
    1. First Aid and CPR must be current.
    2. Take the class in person or online early enough to receive certification cards.
  2. Fill out an Application for Examination form.
  3. Request a Letter of Recommendation from Sensei.
  4. Read and sign an AJJF Ethics Statement.
  5. Complete notebook describing all the techniques required for the rank level.
  6. Fill out an AJJF Activity Sheet or Budo Pass with at least 2 AJJF approved mat activities per year of time-in-grade, as required for your specific level of rank examination.
    1. Events that qualify: AJJF Sanctioned Convention, Mat Clinic, Camps, Seminars, and Competitions.  Events typically span a full day or multiple days.
    2. Classes that qualify: AJJF Approved Black Belt Classes, Healing Classes, and DZRSI Mod’s.  Classes generally are a half day or less.  Even though the DZRSI Mod courses are multiple days, since they are testing for their jujitsu black belt, the candidate could count one event in each qualifying year. 
    3. Shodan: At least 2 AJJF Approved mat activities during the 12 month period immediately preceding the exam date:
    4. Nidan: At least 4 AJJF Approved mat activities during the 24 month period immediately preceding the exam date:
    5. Sandan: At least 6 AJJF Approved mat activities during the 36 month period immediately preceding the exam date:
    6. Yodan: At least 6 AJJF Approved mat activities during the 36 month period immediately preceding the exam date:
    7. Meet the required number of events in whatever combination you want for Nidan and above.  With at least one event in each year required that precedes the exam.  For example, a Sandan candidate needs 6 total events.  They can do 1 event in the first year, 4 in the second year, and 1 in the final year.
    8. The events in a given year can be selected from any of the qualified events, but only one can be selected from the qualified classes category.  The thinking is that a 2-3 hour class isn’t the same time commitment as a convention or clinic, and should be counted differently.
    9. The contest is still a Black Belt requirement for Shodan and Nidan, but a qualifying contest no longer needs to have three different schools participating to count.  There is no minimum number of school’s needed to count, it still needs to be on the AJJF Calendar.
    10. A multiple activity event can still only count as one activity.  Since we reduced the count per year to two, this isn’t a hard requirement to meet.
    11. The director of each activity must sign the Activity Sheet or Budo Pass.
    • Request a “Time-In-Grade” letter from Examinations Committee Chair at least 2 to 4 weeks before the exam.
      1. Shodan – must have been a current AJJF registrant for 12 consecutive months immediately prior to examining.
      2. Above Shodan ranks – must be a registrant during the entire period of Time-In-Grade required to examine in the next rank.
      3. Policy Statement, from the Board of Professors, 3/9/79: “One year’s Time-In-Grade will be lost if renewal dues are not paid within 90 days from the expiration date.”
      4. Examinations Committee Chair will send a copy to the candidate for his/her records.
      5. Sensei may submit a request to waive the time in grade requirement for candidates who do not have sufficient time-in-grade.
        The appropriate form is the Time In Grade Request for Waiver
    • Effective June 15, 2008 Request for Back Ground Screen at least 8 weeks before the exam.
    • To pre-register, mail application for examination to the Examinations Committee Chair or Regional Examination Coordinator, by U.S. mail, to reserve an exam space.
      1. The number of examinees is limited for each exam.
      2. Insufficient pre-registrations may result in cancellation of that exam date.
    • Give the following to the Examinations Committee Chair, or the Regional Examination Coordinator. References in this handbook to “Examinations Committee Chair” may refer to a “Regional Examination Coordinator” in the event that there is a Regional Examination Coordinator. Candidate will be asked to either mail the documents or to bring them to the exam.
        1. Application for Examination
        2. AJJF Activity Sheet (2 Activities, signed by Director of Activity)
          1. Include score sheets from AJJF Kata or Freestyle contests, flow charts for Sumo contests, or a Certificate of Participation for Demo contests (Shodan and Nidan applicants only)
        3. Copy of current First Aid card
        4. Copy of current CPR card. CPR requirement can be done in person or online.
        5. Letter of Recommendation from candidate’s Sensei (in a sealed envelope)
        6. Copy of current AJJF registration card
    • A check made out to the AJJF – Examination fees are listed on Application for Examination, or check with Examinations Committee Chair for amount
    • Effective June 1, 2012,  all exam candidates must complete the AJJF Ethics and Risk Management Course and Examination prior to their mat examination.
      1. Candidates who have completed a prior AJJF Ethics and Risk  Management Course have already fulfilled this requirement.

    2. The Day of the Exam

    1. Candidate should arrive early to register with Examinations Committee Chair or the Regional Examination Coordinator.
    2. Candidate should bring:
      1. Completed notebook
      2. Tanto and Tanju
      3. All documents, if previously not asked to mail them.
    3. Candidate should choose an uke of the appropriate rank, from the group of uke provided at the time of the exam.
    4. Candidate will demonstrate his/her skill and knowledge to the examiners.

    Examinees who complete the examination will receive a letter stating that they have completed the mat examination. Promotion to an AJJF black belt will be determined after consideration by the AJJF Board of Professors.

    3. After the Exam

    1. Results of the mat examination are sent to the Examinations Committee Chair
    2. Examinations Committee Chair notifies Board of Professors of results and asks for determination.
    3. Board of Professors contacts Examinations Committee Chair with their determination.
    4. If exam is successful, a letter of congratulations is sent to the candidate and the certificate is sent to Sensei.
      1. At the examinations administered at annual convention, certificates are presented to successful examinees at the banquet.
    5. Examinations Committee Chair:
      1. Updates database records with new rank.
      2. Notifies Kiai Echo Chair for publication announcement.


    • Board of Professors
    • Examinations Committee Chair – regarding exam procedures, Time-In-Grade letter, and forms
    • Regional Manager or Regional Examination Coordinator – regarding dates, times, locations of exams.


    Look in the “Forms” section of this handbook. The AJJF gives permission to copy any item found in the Forms section.


    These documents are found within this School handbook:

    Historical Documents, stating policy decisions:

    • Board of Professors’ 1982 meeting
    • Dojo Rank Policy Restatement
    • Suspension of Dan Examinations
    • Policy Statement