Resources and FAQ

How to tie a martial art belt for Aikido:

Click image to view/download this graphic with instructions


Vocabulary basics listed by curriculum level (PDF)

Testing Criteria:

Note that all rank exams are cumulative.  Youth students earn color belts and may continue the color belt program when they advance to adult program.

Adults follow the same criteria as youth students up to 4th kyu, except are not necessarily tested on vocabulary.  Adults test for 7th kyu as their first exam.  On adult 3rd kyu test and onward, students also have paired weapons training.  Adults wear white belts until they reach shodan.  Sankyu students and above wear a hakama in adult class.

Frequently Asked Questions​

Generally, we suggest that children be 8 years old to begin Aikido training. However, a younger child willing to concentrate, who tries to behave well and who works hard at their training will be considered also. There is no upper age limit at our school. Students are encouraged to train at their own pace and to progress at the best of their own ability in a way that does not lead to injury.

You do not need to be fit to start training. You do, however, need to always listen to your body and “know yourself” in order to avoid injury when embarking on any new physical regimen.

Stretching, walking and light to moderate weight training are highly encouraged to complement your Aikido training.

There is no set schedule for rank graduations or belt promotions. After your minimum class requirements are met for your next rank, you will be evaluated during regular class time to establish your readiness.

A good indicator of if your youth student is ready for a rank test is if they can recite all of their test material without having to refer to the testing sheet.

When ready, you will be offered the opportunity to test and will be generally given a week notice unless you would like to wait longer or unless there is time to do the test immediately and family/student agrees.

If you wish to invite friends and family members to watch your test, they are very welcome and the pre-arrangement of your test day/time for this reason is always perfectly fine.

Sometimes.  But not for beginner or intermediate youth.

Testing fees do apply for adult ranks and youth ranks above 3rd kyu (brown belt and above). For advanced youth students, expect $20 testing fees and for adults, $20-$50 for most kyu ranks. Dan ranks fees (blackbelt and above) are determined by the rates of our parent organization. Inquire at the dojo for more information on higher ranks.

All fees and tuition must be paid and current prior to testing.

Naturally, it is best to attend every class that we offer. However, this is not practical for most people due to work, school, home, and other obligations.

At the minimum, you should attend once a week. Again, we understand that times get busy and that you might be out of town for an extended period of time. In fact, our tuition is on a month-to-month basis… We offer the flexibility for you to stop and start from month to month if you are going to be gone for a while.

For youth beginners, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND attendance of twice a week.  In our experience, kids that only attend once a week (or less) do not keep up and end up having a much more difficult experience.

Students are always very welcome to return after a break!

Always remember why you wanted to start training! The difference between a white-belt and a black-belt is mostly that the blackbelt didn’t quit, even when training became inconvenient and difficult.

Students receiving rank at our dojo must join as members and pay monthly program fees.

The per class (Guest) rate is:

Everyone is welcome to attend our annual Bismarck seminar. Naturally, SOME experience in Aikido is going to be helpful, but beginners are welcome to attend regardless. More advanced students should definitely plan on attending and helping out with our annual seminar.

Other dojos’ seminars are available around the country (and world). Aikido Bismarck students are not restricted in any way from participating in any seminar of any style and with any teacher. However, proper etiquette is required. Please talk to Jason Sensei when planning to attending other seminars.

This question has come up many times over the years and it is a question that we respect very much.  We bow to show respect and to follow Aikido tradition.

Is the formal bow at our dojo a religious practice?

No.  At our dojo, we assign no religious value to our bowing procedures.  We bow in a traditional fashion to show respect to the dojo, to the founding teachers, to the current teachers, and to each other.   Each student’s and teacher’s religious beliefs are considered a private matter and in no way is our practice of bowing intended to promote Shinto, Omoto, or any other religion.

Our “shomen” wall is a symbolic representation of the center of the dojo: there is a shelf with pictures, gifts from students, flowers, and decorative items.  We do not have a kamidana like many aikido dojos might have as an homage to the traditional roots of Aikido in Japan.  

If I go to a seminar or visit another school, are they promoting religious beliefs through Aikido?

There are all kinds of Aikido practitioners and dojos around the US and the world and yes, some of them might be practicing various degrees of Japanese religion in their dojo.  Some people find this to be a culturally-enriching experience and others are upset to think that their own personal religious beliefs might be in danger if they participate.   We respect all of these points of view.

At our dojo, we have done our best to find a balance of honoring Aikido tradition while not making parents and students of faith uncomfortable.  Our bows and other group practices are all intended to be non-religious and are simply a gesture of respect and sincerity.