Testing is a part of the Aikido learning process. As students progress in their training, they accrue experience and gain technical knowledge. Once a student has reached the required number of practice hours, he/she becomes eligible to test (see requirements below). In the month leading up to the test, the student is expected to attend class at least 2-3 times/week so the instructors can ensure he/she is fully prepared.
Along with learning the physical techniques of Aikido, students should develop a broader philosophical understanding of the art. It is not enough to merely get out on the mat and perform techniques - a true student of Aikido must seek to understand O'Sensei's vision of the art.
To ensure this learning occurs, each kyu test has an associated book students are expected to read. These books are available in our dojo library to borrow. For promotions to shodan (black belt), students write a brief essay in which they express their understanding of Aikido at the time.
Required Reading for Tests
The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba (6th kyu) - A collection of sayings, quotes and poems by Morihei Ueshiba. At 125 pages, it's a great way to get a sense for how O'Sensei envisioned his art in his own words.
Invincible Warrior by John Stevens (5th kyu) - A pictorial biography of O'Sensei's life. Beginning with his upbringing in the Japanese countryside, this book traces his martial development from his early training in Daito-Ryu Jujutsu through his eventual creation of Aikido.
Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido by Morihei Ueshiba (4th kyu) - In his lifetime, Morihei Ueshiba only authored one book, which he gave to select individuals. With the approval of his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Kodansha was able to publish it here. This book is a historical treasure and recommended reading for anyone who practices Aikido.
Remembering O'Sensei - Edited by Susan Perry (3rd kyu) - A collection of stories, memories and reflections on Morihei Ueshiba by his students. Much of what O'Sensei himself said can be hard to understand as it's wrapped in Shinto mythology. Hearing what his students have to say reveals a mischievous, warm-hearted side of the Founder we otherwise wouldn't see.
Aikido Poineers by Stanley Pranin (2nd kyu) -A collection of interviews with O'Sensei's pre-war students. This is a great way to learn about Aikido as it was first practiced, and hear the various interpretations of the art from a variety of talented Aikidoka who studied directly with the Founder.
The Heart of Aikido by Morihei Ueshiba (1st kyu) - A recent translation of talks given directly by the Founder, this is one of the best collections of O'Sensei's direct words. Though often shrouded in mystical Shinto terms and imagery, O'Sensei lays out his vision of Aikido, the martial arts and the universe in rich detail.