Each year I am presented with several recurring questions regarding the dan application process. In order to address these questions, I thought a short Q&A in our newsletter would be helpful to our membership. If I do not answer any of your particular questions, please email them to me and I will add them to this article for public reference as well.
1. Are there any deadlines for submitting dan applications?
There are no deadlines at all for shodan, nidan, sandan and yondan applications. These can be submitted to the USAF and then to Aikikai any time of year. However, godan and higher ranks may only be submitted to Aikikai once a year and are considered New Years Promotions. The deadline for these applications is November 1st – that is the date by which they must be received by the USAF office. This allows adequate time for them to be processed, prepared, and mailed to Aikikai before their November deadline.
2. How frequently does the USAF mail Aikikai dan applications?
A package of dan applications is mailed to Aikikai approximately 4-5 times per year. There are no set dates for forwarding the applications, but rather it depends on the volume of applications I have received. We do not mail one application at a time but wait for a substantial number of applications before sending. The approximate dates tend to be December or January (after the NYA seminar), March or April, June or July, September and November.
3. Are the dan certificates and books mailed to individuals?
No, all certificates and books are mailed to the member’s dojo. It is up to the instructor to then distribute them. Certificates are mailed in tubes, and if a yudansha book is not included in the tube than it is mailed in a separate envelope.
4. How long does it take to receive the certificates?
This question is based on 2 factors. First, if you submit an application to me right after I have sent a batch to Aikikai, then your application will not be mailed to Japan for another eight weeks or so. If I receive your application right before I prepare a mailing, then the turn-around time for your application to be forwarded to Aikikai is very quick.
Once I mail the applications, there is generally an 8-10 week turn-around time until I receive the certificates from Japan. Then, within a week or two, I will package them and mail them to the dojo. However, the year-end and New Year’s batches generally take several weeks longer for Aikikai to return to me, as they are inundated with a large volume of applications from around the world at that time.
5. When are the fees for dan applications deposited?
In general, I make deposits (both bank and credit card) twice per month. So, depending on when your paperwork and fees are received, your payment will either be deposited right away or there may be a couple of weeks of waiting before your payment is processed. I do not deposit payments individually, but wait for several receipts before depositing.
6. What if you do not know your Aikikai number because you have lost your book?
In general, when the Aikikai number and registration date are left blank on the application, it does not cause a problem with the process as long as the person is properly registered with Aikikai. If I am notified of a problem it is usually for one of two reasons. First, the individual has not waited the proper amount of time between ranks before their new promotion, or the individual did not submit previous application(s) and therefore is either skipping rank or did not register their shodan and is therefore not registered at Aikikai.
7. What happens if you tested a while ago but were not able to submit your paperwork for any number of reasons?
Aikikai does not backdate any applications. That means that they register the date of your promotion as the date they process your application. Therefore, if you wait an extended period of time before mailing your application and fee, you may lose the time towards your next promotion. This is not relevant if it’s only a few weeks, but applications that are not submitted for extended periods of time do suffer consequences in the testing time-line. Therefore, whenever possible, please submit your paperwork shortly after the date of your promotion.
8. What happens if a student joins the USAF with a high rank from an organization that is not recognized by Aikikai and wishes to qualify for his/her next promotion?
Because Aikikai does not backdate any promotions, this member will need to register their shodan first, as of the date that the shodan paperwork is submitted. On occasion, Aikikai will accept more than one promotion at a time, but each rank must be paid for at the time of application. However, it can also transpire that the individual will have to wait the proper time between each rank after shodan as well as then pay each rank fee. Depending on the circumstances, a special exception may be requested by Yamada Sensei, however the final determination is by Aikikai. They rarely allow for multiple ranks at one time and will usually will not put through a promotion that does not have the proper time requirement since the last promotion.
9. Is there a place where you can see the dates that your applications were either mailed to Aikikai or mailed to your dojo?
USAF Chief Instructors have a login and password for accessing USAF official documents on our website, www.usaikifed.com. One of the folders is titled Dan Applications Mailed to Aikikai. Within that folder are the dates and list of applications mailed to Aikikai.
10. Is there a place on the website where you can access dan applications?
The USAF does not have a public location where everyone can access dan applications. Chief Instructors have access to the forms through their login and password, and it is their responsibility to forward the forms to their students as needed.
11. Can dan applications be submitted if hand-written?
No. All dan applications (4 forms for shodan, 2 forms for nidan, sandan and yondan, and 2 forms for godan and above but it is a different Aikikai form than the lower ranks) must be typed. Our forms are in fillable pdf format so it is easy to type directly in the fields and then print them out.
12. Will an application be submitted to Aikikai if the individual is not current with their USAF dues?
In order to be promoted through the USAF, your membership fees must be current. Your instructor will be notified if this is not the case, and late fees will be applied. If you have not paid your dues in 5 years, and you have submitted paperwork for godan, then you will owe 5 years of membership fees along with 5 years of late fees before your dan application can be processed. Therefore it is very important to maintain your individual membership and pay your annual dues on time each year.
13. Should dan applications be mailed into the USAF office in advance of the seminar at which you are testing?
No. If a member is testing, he/she must submit his/her paperwork at the location and time of their test.
14. If you are testing at a dojo that is not your home dojo, whose responsibility is it to mail in the application and fee?
If you attend one of the major seminar at which there is testing, please take your application and fee home with you after the seminar so that you or your instructor can submit the paperwork to the USAF office. It is not the responsibility of the host dojo to mail in the test forms for all the guests attending and testing at their seminar.
Laura Jacobs Pavlick
Director of Operations