The first Black Belt is know as 1st Dan. This
is also known as Shodan, which means beginning. This is the first
rank that is registered with the Japan Aikido Association.
Grading examinations are held every six months,
usually in May and November.
After every grading there are some students
disappointed, and even upset, if they have not been successful in
obtaining their next grade. Gradings are not rewards for training hard
or attending sessions regularly, although both of these elements are
necessary if your Aikido is to develop properly. Gradings are but an
assessment of the student's ability to move on to the next stage of
their training. The belt system is merely an indication that you have
knowledge of the techniques at the lower grades and are ready to move
on. However, previously learnt techniques. Even the highest grades of
Black Belts continue to practice basic exercises and drills, always
striving for perfection.
One must always remember that attaining Black Belt is
not the end of the student's training, only the end of the first phase,
although student's can be justifiably proud of achieving a Dan grade, it
is only the start of their Aikido training. By the time the student has
obtained this grade they will be fit, strong and have the correct
technique and should be mentally competent enough to be able to embark
on a most exciting journey knowing they will never reach their
The student should always keep in mind that taking a
Grading is not to compare yourself with others - it is simply a measure
of your progress since the last examination. So you compare
yourself with yourself not others.