Before attempting the Shodan test students are expected to know all the Bo and Sai Kihon (basics), Maezato no Tekko and Shushi no Kon Sho.
Shodan (First Dan black belt)
Akamine no Nunchaku
Sakugawa no Kon Sho
Chikin Shita Haku no Sai
Nidan (Second Dan black belt)
Hama Higa no Tunfa
Shushi no Kon Dai
Chatan Yara no Sai
Sandan (Third Dan black belt)
Kanegawa no Tinbe
Sakugawa no Kon Dai
Hama Higa no Sai
Yondan (Fourth Dan black belt)
Kanegawa no Nicho Gama
Yuniga no Kon
Kugusuku no Sai
Godan (Fifth Dan black belt)
Chinen Sunakake no Kon
Shirataru no Kon
Tawada no Sai
Please note that formal tests for Kyu grades (those up to black belt), are not held at the Hombu dojo. Different dojos may have different requirements for those lower grades.
Procedure for grading at the Hombu Dojo
Different branch dojo may have different procedures for testing but the following is the procedure at the Hombu Dojo. Official gradings are held in May and November although Akamine Kaicho may choose to offer special gradings at any time during the year, as well as while he is overseas running a seminar. For tests held overseas when Akamine Kaicho is not present all gradings should be video taped and the video sent to Kaicho for confirmation of the results.
- If you drop a weapon you will automatically fail.
- If you make a mistake you can stop the kata and start again. You can make one mistake per kata. If you make a second mistake during the same kata you will fail.
- 7.0 is the pass mark. If you get 6.9 or below you fail.
Order of students
Students present their kata by themselves from lowest to highest rank. So those testing for Shodan will go first, then Nidan, Sandan and so on. If there are several students testing for the same grade their order will be determined by drawing numbers.
Order of kata
Other weapon, i.e. Nunchaku, Tunfa, Tinbe, Kama and Ekku
All the Shodan students will individually present Akamine no Nunchaku, then the Nidan students will present Hama Higa no Tunfa and so on. Once all the students have presented their other weapon kata the Shodan students will perform Sakugawa no Kon Sho and so on. Once all the students have performed their Bo kata they will then perform the Sai kata starting with those trying for Shodan.
- When your name is called by the head tester, answer “Hai” or “Yes”.
- Make your way to the centre back of the dojo (testing area).
- Bow once and go to your start position.
- Bow again.
- Call the name of your Kata.
- Do the kata.
- Bow, turn and move to the back of the dojo.
- Turn to face the judges and bow one last time.
The judges will total the scores and confirm the results with Akamine Sensei before announcing them to the students.
- Arrive with plenty of time to warm up before the test.
- During warm ups, concentrate on making sure your kata is as smooth as possible. It is best not to worry about all the corrections you have received in the days leading up to the test.
- Keep in mind that the testers will be seated at the front of the dojo or testing area so choose your starting point carefully. Different kata have different space requirements and you don’t want to run out of space during the test.
- Try to relax and enjoy the test. I personally found the EFT tapping method effective for taming nerves.