Common Questions

How do I get my shodan [1st degree black belt] in Budoshin Ju-Jitsu?


  1. Secure your BJJY membership, hopefully at the start of your journey for secure technical support.

  2. Complete the requirements for mudansha grades [below black belt] as stated in the Student Handbook, with the emphasis on technical proficiency.

  3. Request the Black Belt Handbook when you reach the 2nd kyu Brown Belt level. Review it & make sure you can fulfill the requirements. It may take some time to meet all the criteria, depending upon your technical proficiency in Budoshin Ju-Jitsu, & other factors. [See #5 below]

  4. Send me an autobiography of yourself when you’re ready to test for Shodan and the required reference letters. Please enclose the $25/test setup fee with your autobiography & other certification requirements [first-aid, CPR, & Concussion Awareness Training].

  5. If you have been promoted by me through the mudansha grades up through ikkyu [1st kyu brown belt] you can proceed directly to testing for shodan [1st degree black belt]. The test for shodan should simply be a formality for you at this point.

  6. If you did NOT proceed through the kyu ranks under my guidance, please submit a video you can send via my Hightail dropbox] for evaluation. The video will have to contain 60 seconds of freestyle against random attacks by your uke, plus you will have to show all kata & waza listed on the black belt exam for shodan. [All of this does not have to be recorded at one time.]

  7. After viewing your comprehensive video if you have to do #6 above, I feel you have a good chance of passing the Black Belt mat exam I will inform you how to proceed.

Approximately how many techniques are there in the system to shodan level?

  1. You must be proficient with the 54 different kata [techniques] plus responses for 52 different street attacks listed in the Shodan kata & waza lists. At the time of testing you will be asked to demonstrate 5-10 kata and respond to 5-10 street situations your examiner has selected from from the Shodan list. You will not have any forewarning of these test elements and must be able to demonstrate the requested kata and street responses immediately.

  2. You may also have to demonstrate the ability to defend against continuous random street attacks by uke for 30-60 seconds. 

  3. You must also be able to demonstrate effective use of a martial arts “tool”. You may submit a valid gun-safety course certificate in lieu of one of the defensive tool demonstration.

What is the difference between a “kata” [technique] and response to a “street attack”?

  1. A kata is a specific technique, such as koshi nage [hip throw] or tekubi shimi waza [wristlock technique].

  2. A waza [response to street attack] would be to use any kata you have learned to defend yourself agsint a specified street attack, such as a headlock, choke, hit, kick, club attak, knife thrust, etc. 

  3. For the purpose of testing, kata demonstrated in the kata portion of the test may also be used in the waza portion of the test if they demonstrate an effective defense for the attack.

Do I need to demonstrate ALL of the techniques on each video for each belt rank test/evaluation?

  1. NO! You only need to demonstrate the “kata” and “waza” listed for each belt exam [up through 4th kyu] as specified in the Student Handbook. [Also, see the response to the question that follows.]

  2. Starting at brown belt [3rd kyu] and into the dan grades you need to be able to execute all the kata and waza listed. 

  3. The examinar will select 5-10 kata & waza randomly from each list. Kata will be called in Japanese only. You will have to execute the kata or waza immediately. More procedural detail will be provided at the time of these exams.

WHY don’t I need to demonstrate all of the techniques demonstrated on each video?

  1. When I made the videos I felt this might be my only opportunity to produce a professional video series.

  2. I also knew that most of the techniques shown in the kata section or learned for previous belt exams could also be used on the waza portion of the tests. 

  3. So I decided that I should show additional/different techniques in the waza section so that you could have the option of learning more techniques beyond what was “basically” required. 

  4. As a result, if you choose to learn all of the techniques you will have a much broader background in terms of technical knowledge and self-defense skills. You may also find alternate techniques or variations that work better for you.

How long will it take me to get to Shodan?

  1. That depends entirely upon you, your martial arts experience, ability & willingness to learn, and the amount of time you’re willing to dedicate to practice. 

  2. In a normal dojo situation, with two 2-hour classes per week, it usually takes a student with no experience 3-7 years to achieve the competence necessary to test for Shodan.

  3. However, if you have a reliable training partner and can practice an additional 2-4 hours per week, you should be able to significantly shorten your total training time.

  4. Be aware that there are no “time-in-grade” requirements below black belt. So you can progress through the belt ranks as fast as your skill level allows.

  5. Clue: When practicing a technique, if you are having consistent problems with that technique, stop and practice another technique instead. If the problems persist either email me the problem or send me a video.

Will the BJJY test for grades below Sankyu?

  1. YES! You are encouraged to submit “test” videos, based upon the test formats in the Student Handbook. If your skill level is adequate for promotion then a BJJY Certificate of Promotion will be issued to you.

  2. If errors in the execution of techniques are being made, it is easier to correct problems at lower ranks. Your acquired skill level will then make the black belt mat test relatively easy. It should really be a formality attesting to your technical proficiency.

How high in rank can I go with the all of the training videos?

  1. You can progress all the way up through godan [5th degree black belt]  using the training videos and other materials [books].

  2. Promotions beyond 5th dan are “honorary”, based on your continued growth and you willingness/ability to help others learn the art and expand the martial art.

What aspect of the art is emphasized in Budoshin Ju-Jitsu?

  1. First, you learn effective self-defense techniques. Every technique you learn is in response to a street-type attack. 

  2. Second, you are also taught the art by being exposed to the theory and  mechanics behind each move. Budoshin Ju-Jitsu is a traditional Japanese style of jujitsu, the parent art of aikido, judo, and some styles of karate.

  3. Because of such a wide ranging ability to cause pain and or injury at the practitioners discretion, you are also expected to accept a very strong philosophy of non-violence: that a physical confrontation should be avoided whenever possible and that Ju-Jitsu techniques should be used only to the extent necessary to remove yourself from the immediate situation and protect yourself from further harm

Do I need a training partner?

  1. ABSOLUTELY — YES!!! You need a partner to get a “feel” for the techniques so that they work properly. Hopefully your partner will learn the art as you do.

  2. Your partner can secure his/her own BJJY membership [or you might provide it as a matter of courtesy] if he/she is also interested in being tested and securing promotions in the art.

Can martial arts schools or clubs join the BJJY?

  1. Due to liability issues schools & clubs may not join the BJJY directly. However, individuals within a school or club may become members of the BJJY as individuals and can publicize their individual affiliation. 

  2. Also, if the head instructor of the school is a BJJY black belt he’ll have easy access to securing American Ju-Jitsu Association recognition of his dojo.

Where can I find answers to other questions?

  1. E-mail me by clicking HERE. I’ll answer most questions even if you aren’t a BJJY member usually within a a day or two.

  2. All questions [unless private] are “depersonalized” [names, locations, and other identifiers removed to protect your privacy] and published in Kokoro, our periodic newsletter.

  3. You can purchase all past issues of Kokoro as a single .pdf file. It contains all the questions asked of me since the BJJY began in 1994 and answers to those questions. Go to my jujitsu books page & scroll down [click HERE] to purchase this item.