Usually Aikido grading ranks and certificates are not the main focus of students who practise the art. But it's always good to have some feedback to be sure that you are on the right track in your training.
Most styles of Aikido offer their students a path that leads through a series of ranks. But it does vary quite a lot on how many levels there are and the importance of each aikido certificate.
In many clubs there are only two belts... white and black.
There are of course many different levels that you'll need to achieve and often an Aikido grading allows you to pressure test yourself in more stressful, but controlled circumstances.
Once you have achieved the rank of black belt, you'll be a Dan grade and have the right to wear the hakama, which is a pleated divided skirt.
But this is at the discretion of your Instructor, as some organisations don't allow lower dan grades to wear them in general training.
Also, some organisations see their dan grades as degrees, so you may be a 1st degree not 1st dan. Regarding it as a degree gives you more of an indication of the time and effort required to achieve it.
From Aikikai Hombu Dojo Website...
5th Kyu - 30 days of practice
4th Kyu - 40 days of practice after obtaining 5th Kyu
3rd Kyu - 50 days of practice after obtaining 4th Kyu
2nd Kyu - 50 days of practice after obtaining 3rd Kyu
1st Kyu - 60 days of practice after obtaining 2nd Kyu
1st Dan - 70 days of practice after obtaining 1st Kyu
2nd Dan - Minimum 1 year since 1st dan, with 200 days of practice
3rd Dan - Minimum 2 years since 2nd dan, with 300 days of practice
4th Dan - Minimum 3 years since 3rd dan, with 400 days of practice
course, other associations, organisations, systems, and styles are
different, but this gives you an idea of the work involved.
In the West it is more common for students to expect aikido grading ranks, certificates and coloured belts. This is because people have been brought up based on hundreds of tests and confirmation of their skill levels in every area of society. They tend to crave recognition!
The grading levels of the Aikido Yoshinkan group I trained with in the UK, and what we use at the Arun Aikido Club is...
8th kyu - white belt
7th kyu - yellow belt
6th kyu - green belt
5th kyu - blue belt
4th kyu - orange belt
3rd kyu - brown belt
2nd kyu - brown belt
1st kyu - brown belt
1st Dan - black belt
We have an aikido grading system that involves plenty of hard work, and Aikido ranks and an Aikido certificate are very difficult to achieve.
Unfortunately some students hoped for an easy path through the
grades, and stopped training because it was so difficult to advance.
This can be a good way of filtering out the weaker students who only had one eye on their training and the other eye on their belt (ego).
Unfortunately, this leads to reduced student numbers, and many came and went. But the most important thing is to protect the art and...
avoid diluting it.
When it comes down to it your Aikido ranks, belts, and certificates will not help you in difficult situations, but solid aikido skills and aiki principles will!
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