tomoe nageThe exam for Shodan (black belt) generally consists of three parts that are performed in front of the provincial grading board. The first part is generally the Nage No Kata, which is a specified set of throws performed a very specific way. The second part is the Gokyo, which is being asked random techniques from the Gokyo (the orginal Japanese judo techniques) and consists of both standing and ground techniques. The third part of the exam is a randori or free demonstration of techniques where both partners take turns applying techniques while moving around similar to competition. Sometimes, the examining board will ask candidates to demonstrate their breakfalls as well.

Before one can be examined for shodan promotion, he or she must have accumulated 120 points. Judoka may begin accumulating points from the grade of ikkyu (brown belt) at the minimum age of 14. For shodan, a minimum of 30 points must be obtained from technical activities (i.e. tournaments, clinics, refereeing, etc.).

Please see the detailed points system outline on the Judo Canada website at for more information on what activities you may claim points for and the restrictions on each.

Points may be accumulated in numerous ways, but are usually accumulated through annual participation and competing in tournaments. Here's a quick snapshot:

  • Annual Participation (minimum 100 hours on the mat)
    - Brown belts may claim 30 points/yr
    - Shodans may claim 25 points/yr
    - Nidans and above may claim 20 points/yr
  • Participation in Tournaments
    - Points are awarded for winning matches. The number of points you may claim depends on the grade of your opponent and the score you beat him by. The table below details the points you may claim in the various circumstances.

    - Kata competitors may claim 2 points for each pair that placed below them and an additional 2 points for participating in the competition.

Please note: not all tournaments are suitable for accumulating points and Judo Canada regularly updates the grading syllabus. Please refer to the Judo Canada website or ask your Sensei.