The graduation system with Kyu and Dan grades in modern Budo goes back to Jigoro Kano (1860 - 1938), the founder of Judo.
He refined the 5-stage system of ancient martial arts (Koryu). The shorter intervals between the individual levels allow for a more differentiated didactic concept and were supposed to inspire the motivation of the students.
An examination program in Aikido serves as a basic curriculum. In Ki-Aikido there are even additional Ki-exams. However, no one is obliged to take exams.
In some schools there are additional formations and a licensing for instructors and examiners.
In the KNKI, the Kyu diplomas are written in Latin alphabet. The language used is English to keep printing expenditure low. Nowadays, however, it is easy to use the respective national languages. Dan certificates are also usually printed and then completed by hand with name and date.
For Aikido groups with a direct connection to Japan or a Japanese teacher at the top, the Dan certificates are written in Kanji and Katakana (traditional) or Hiragana (modern). European Aikido organisations issue their documents in Latin alphabet.
UESHIBA - TOHEI - MARUYAMA - YOSHIGASAKI
(The data on the illustrations is fictitious.)
The certificates have up to three seals/stamps. Registered seals (実印 jitsuin) are considered like a signature in Japan. At the top right is the seal for authenticity, there is only one part on the paper, the supplement is deposited. The bigger seal is that of the organization. At the bottom left is the name stamp of the person responsible for the document.
- The style/school is called AIKIDO. Responsible is the headmaster DŌSHU (道主) Ueshiba Moriteru.
The organization's name is Zaidan Hojin Aikikai (財団法合気会), it is on the far right. Zaidan Hojin means "legal foundation".
- The style/school is called SHIN SHIN TOITSU AIKIDO. Responsible is the headmaster SŌSHU (宗主) Tōhei Kōichi.
The organization's name is Zaidan Hojin Ki no Kenkyukai (財団法気研究会), it is on the left.
This Ki no Kenkyukai has expired. It has been succeeded by the SHIN SHIN TOITSU AIKIDOKAI with Tohei Shinichi at the top.
- The style/school is called AIKIDO YUISHINKAI. Responsible is the President KAISHU (会主) Maruyama Koretoshi.
The organization's name is also AIKIDO YUISHINKAI (合氣唯心会), it is on the left.
- The style/school is called SHIN SHIN TOITSU AIKIDO. Responsible is Yoshigasaki Kenjiro.
The organization's name is Ki no Kenkyukai (気研究会), it is on the left. Yoshigasaki Sensei used the sign 証 for diploma/certificate, the others use the more traditional kanji 證 (SHŌ). The difference lies only in interpretation. On the document, Yoshigasaki Sensei did not use his title "DŌSHU - Keeper of the Way".