Regulations, Policies, and Procedures for Blackbelt Exams

I. Examinations Committee Chair

  1. Reports to the National Manager of Events
  2. Will report to the Board of Professors on all matters concerning examinations.
  3. Is responsible for the administration of all AJJF Jujitsu examinations for the AJJF ranks of Shodan through Godan.

II. Regional Examination Coordinator

  1. Appointed by that region’s Regional Manager.
  2. Responsible for ensuring that the applicant has successfully met the requirements listed below.
  3. Is responsible for the administration of all AJJF Jujitsu examinations for the AJJF ranks of Shodan through Yodan, within that region.
  4. Ensure that dates of upcoming examinations within the region are forwarded to the Kiai Echo for publication, at least forty five days prior to each examination.
  5. Correctly administer either in person or by proxy, all Jujitsu examinations within the region.
  6. Ensure that examination forms are available on the date of the examination and tabulate all examination results and verify the completion of all promotion requirements.
  7. Forward to Examinations Committee Chair the results of each examination, and for successful applicants, will forward the following items:
    1. Age of applicant (Shodan – minimum 16 years old)
    2. Copy of current AJJF registration card
    3. Copy of CPR and First Aid card/s. CPR Requirement can be met with training in person or online.
      1. Emergency First Responder certification may be accepted in lieu of CPR and/or First Aid card/s.
    4. Application for Examination
    5. Sensei Letter of Recommendation
    6. Fill out an AJJF Activity Sheet or Budo Pass with at least 3 AJJF sanctioned mat activities per year of time-in-grade, as required for your specific level of rank examination.
    7. Copy of Time-In-Grade letter with Background Screen Verification.
    8. Check for examination fee, made out to AJJF (Find out the current amount)

    Copy of CPR and First Aid card/s. CPR Requirement can be met only with hands-on training.  

NOTE: Any deficiency found in the supporting documentation, such as expired registration card, insufficient Time-In-Grade, missing documents, etc., will void the entire exam.

III. Examiners

  1. There must be three (3) examiners to administer each Shodan, Nidan, or Sandan examination, and four (4) Professor examiners to administer each Yodan exam.
  2. All examiners must be at least two (2) ranks higher than the rank for which the applicant is being examined and be the minimum rank of AJJF Sandan, with the exception that a Professor may examine all ranks.
    1. For the rank of Sandan, at least 1 examiner must hold the AJJF title of Professor.
    2. For the rank of Yodan, at least 2 examiners must hold the AJJF title of Professor.
  3. All examiners must be currently registered registrants of the AJJF.
  4. One (1) examiner in each group of three will be Head Examiner.
  5. All examiners must be briefed regarding current rules before the exam begins.
  6. Student notebook will be examined by an examiner or a Blackbelt designated by the Exam Coordinator.
  7. The individual examiners shall not be from the same dojo as the other examiners. Exceptions for this rule may be pre-approved by the BOP.
  8. The examiners shall make every effort to not be from the same dojo as the examinee. Exceptions for this rule may be pre-approved by the BOP.

IV. Uke (person who receives the techniques performed by the examinee)

  1. Uke must be of sufficient rank to receive the techniques safely. There is no upper rank boundary for uke.
  2. More than one uke may be used for an applicant.
  3. Any applicant may refuse any uke for any reason, but may not refuse all uke available.
  4. Uke must be briefed on the rules in advance of the examination.
  5. Whenever possible, uke should be, the same size and weight as the applicant.
  6. Uke may not be from the same dojo or be someone whom the examinee trains with regularly.

V. Examination of Candidates

  1. Candidate will pre-register and mail all documentation, or bring it to the exam, as specified by the Examinations Committee Chair or Regional Examination Coordinator.
  2. Candidate will appear at the location of the exam at the specified time.
  3. Candidate must appear in person for their exam.
  4. The Examinations Committee Chair or the Regional Examination Coordinator will review candidate’s notebook.
    1. Candidate’s notebook must contain an organized list of all the arts up to and including those arts on which the applicant may be examined, both in Japanese and English.
    2. A short description of how to do each art must be written by the applicant and must be included in the notebook.
  5. An oral exam will be given and graded at the time of the physical exam.
    1. The oral exam should cover philosophy, general knowledge, the Esoteric Principles of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu, and the AJJF.
    2. Questions asked by the examiners should reflect the scope of the oral exam.
    3. The oral exam will be conducted at the end of the physical exam with the examiners meeting with the examinee.
    4. After the oral exam, the examiners will then critique the examination as a whole.
  6. The candidate’s Sensei Letter of Recommendation is considered valid for six (6) months from the date it is written. If the applicant re-examines prior to the 6 month expiration date, a new letter is not required.
  7. Grading of the Examination
    1. Scoring will be “Pass or Fail” on each of the arts tested, with the decision to pass or fail the applicant decided after a conference of the examiners.
    2. There should be no teaching on the mat during an examination.
    3. To pass a Shodan, Nidan, or Sandan examination, the candidate must receive a 2/3 recommendation from the examiners.
      1. During the exam, if an examiner believes that the applicant will not pass the exam, they will call for a conference with the other examiners and determine if they should stop the exam process and the applicant will have failed the exam.
      2. If an applicant fails any section of the examination, the entire examination must be retaken.
      3. After failing an exam, the candidate may re-apply and retake the exam.
    4. To pass a Yodan examination, the candidate must receive a majority (3/4) recommendation from the examiners.
  8. Candidate for Shodan shall appear as an Ikkyu at the examination.
  9. Sandan and Yodan Exam Format Change (effective August 15, 2008)
    1. Each examiner shall choose 2 arts at random per course at the exam site for demonstration of Kata. It is expected that each candidate will demonstrate their understanding of the arts as they are described in the Kata Manual. For Shinnin, each examiner shall choose 5 arts at random for demonstration by the candidate.
    2. Each candidate shall perform 3 freestyle sessions, for a maximum time limit of 2 minutes each. The first session shall be seen after Yawara, and will primarily include the candidate’s understanding of that course with appropriate transitions between each art shown. The second session shall be seen after Nage Te, and will primarily include the candidate’s understanding of that course with appropriate transitions between each art shown. The third session shall be seen after Shinnin, and will be a demonstration of the candidate’s understanding of all that he/she has learned in DZR.
    3. The balance of the exam for each rank shall be as it is currently formatted.
  10. Examinee and examinee’s sensei are not allowed to confer with one another during the mat examination process. The examinee’s sensei may sit in during the interview portion after the mat examination. There may be times when it is appropriate for Sensei to talk with the Examinee, but Sensei must first get permission from the Caller.

VI. Results

  1. All candidates shall be notified at the conclusion of their examination as to the results, namely whether they pass or fail.
    1. If the candidate passes, they will be notified that the Board of Professors shall make a final determination for award or denial of promotion.
    2. If the candidate fails, they shall be notified of the reason for the failure.
      1. The candidate’s Sensei, or Sensei’s representative shall be allowed to be present during the explanation for failure.
    3. The candidate shall be allowed to view their examination forms at the exam site for 15 minutes following the exam.

VII. Protests

  1. Protests over examination results may be registered by the Sensei, on behalf of the applicant, in writing or in person, with the Board of Professors or the AJJF Vice President of Instruction.
  2. The protest will be considered by the Board of Professors at their next meeting following submission of the protest. The applicant’s file will be available at the time.

VIII. Certificates

  1. Certificates for promotion to the ranks of Shodan through Godan will be delivered to the Sensei of the successful examinee. Final review of the applicant’s qualifications for promotion will be made by the Board of Professors at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

IX. Fees

  1. The Examination fee should accompany the Examination Application. The candidate should refer to the current Application for Examination or check with Examinations Committee Chair for the current amount.
  2. Checks should be made out to the AJJF.

X. Selection of Examination Techniques

  1. The applicant will be required to demonstrate at least six arts from the basic five lists:
    • Yawara
    • Goshin Jitsu
    • Nage
    • Shime
    • Oku
  2. In addition, the applicant is required to be prepared to demonstrate all techniques listed in this School Handbook for each rank.
    1. Requirements for Shodan
    2. Requirements for Nidan
    3. Requirements for Sandan
    4. Requirements for Yodan
    5. Requirements for Godan
  3. Candidates will not be informed prior to their examinations of the specific arts that they will be required to perform during their exam.

XI. Scheduling of Examinations

  1. There must be at least one examination scheduled per year, at the National Convention. More are desirable, with each region scheduling its own exams through their Regional Examination Coordinator.
  2. Regional exams should coincide with a contest, convention, or other large gathering as often as possible, not to exceed four each year.
  3. Yodan exams may be administered at any venue providing there are sufficient examiners present.
  4. There must be at least one professor present at every exam event.

XII. Record-Keeping of Examination Documentation, and Financial Considerations

  1. Individual files on each person who has taken an examination, including examination results and other documents relating to promotion shall be maintained, for a reasonable time, by the Examinations Committee Chair. These files are closed at all times except by written order of the Board of Professors.
  2. All monies received from an examination shall be forwarded to the AJJF Treasurer.
  3. The AJJF Treasurer shall be billed for expenses incurred by the Examinations Committee Chair or Regional Examiners relating to the administration of an examination. Receipts must accompany billing.

XIII. Procedure of Examinations

  1. Before examination
    1. Candidate submits appropriate fee and documents to the Examinations Committee Chair or the Regional Examination Coordinator at the requested time before the start of the examination.
    2. The Examinations Committee Chair or the Regional Examination Coordinator will:
      1. Arrange a location for the exam
      2. Obtain a group of uke for the exam.
      3. Arrange for examiners to be present at the exam.
      4. Ensure that mats and necessary equipment are available.
      5. Ensure that the applicant is qualified to take the examination.
      6. Ensure that the applicant is aware of the promotional requirements.
      7. Determine the sequence of exams.
      8. Place examination files in order.
      9. Hand out judging sheets to examiners.
    3. The Head Examiner will be responsible for the following:
      1. Review the applicant’s file, as assembled by the Examinations Committee Chair or the Regional Examination Coordinator.
      2. Provide the rules to the applicants before the exam begins.
      3. Remind applicants to be effective, confident, adaptable, and not excessively rough.
      4. Provide the rules of judging to the examiners.
      5. Remind examiners that if they are in doubt they should fail the applicant, and that there should be no double-standards in judging.
      6. Instruct the group of uke, reminding them not to jump, not to help, not to resist, to punch three-quarter speed, aim to hit, and to follow instructions.
  2. During Examinations
    1. The Caller for the examination directs the exam process.
    2. Exams are usually administered in the following order: Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yodan.
    3. Exam room is to be cleared for Sandan, Yodan exams.
    4. The exam room may be cleared if requested by the applicant, the Examinations Committee Chair, the Regional Examination Coordinator, or any examiner.
    5. Video taping of the examination is prohibited.
  3. After examinations
    1. All examination Score Sheets will go to the Head Examiner.
    2. The Head Examiner will notify the applicant if they passed the mat examination.
    3. The Regional Examination Coordinator will forward all exam documentation to the Examinations Committee Chair.
    4. The Examinations Committee Chair will verify the application and supporting documents, and if all is in order, notify the Board of Professors, requesting final approval.
      1. The Examinations Committee Chair will send a list of all applicants who passed the examination to each active Professor for final approval. Each Professor has two weeks to disapprove any applicant, or the applicant will be considered approved for promotion.
      2. The Board of Professors approves or disapproves the applicant for promotion. If approval is not given, a letter of explanation is sent to the applicant and her/his Sensei.
    5. If the applicant successfully completes all phases of this procedure, the Examinations Committee Chair:
      1. Prepares and issues the promotional certificate.
      2. Updates database records with new rank.
      3. Notifies Kiai Echo for publication announcement.
    6. Spectator rules:
      1. All spectators must be at minimum one rank below the rank being examined for, or higher, and in uniform (gi and obi).
        • The above does not apply to non-participating or immediate family members watching the exam
      2. Spectators must remain quiet and respectful during the examination process

XIV. Special Examinations

  1. Any request for special examinations must be made through the Regional Manager, the Vice President of Instruction, or a member of the Board of Professors.
  2. All special exams must be approved by the Board of Professors.
  3. An allied member can test for their current rank from another organization but first must meet the AJJF requirements for that rank and be approved by the BOP to take the exam. The potential Examinee’s Sensei should work with a Sponsoring Professor to get the BOP approval prior to submitting the application for the exam. The Examinee’s Sensei and Sponsoring Professor should provide all required material to the BOP to get BOP approval.

XV. AJJF Persons with Disabilities Exam Policy

  1. Please read this document for policies regarding this type of exam.



  • 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.