The grading system at the Makotokan follows the syllabus produced by the Yoshinkan Honbu (headquarters) dojo in Tokyo and released in May of each year.
The current testing syllabus can be downloaded by following this link:
Depending on rank a student will undergo testing once or twice a year and typically the time from beginner to black belt is between 4 to 6 years depending on dedication and time available for training. It all really comes down to putting in the hours and being persistent!.
The techniques which are selected for each grading level are designed to ensure that steady progression is maintained through the grades, gradually building in complexity to challenge the students increasing skills. As the student progresses they are introduced also to more “jiyu waza” or free techniques which are more spontaneous and dynamic and less choreographed. The main emphasis however in training is on the basics since these create a strong foundation and must never be neglected.
Unlike many Aikido dojo, the Makotokan does not use a range of belt colours to signify rank. We believe that motivation for training and progression must come from within and not rely on external rewards.
As a result the ranks from 8th to 4th kyu wear a white belt, ranks 3rd to 1st kyu wear a brown belt and Dan ranks wear a black belt.
At the end of the day the belt is there to hold your dogi jacket together, thats all.