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American Butokukan


We are a worldwide martial arts organization dedicated to community improvement through personal development. The American Butokukan System emphasizes ethical problem-solving and self-discipline by means of a rigorous physical and mentally challenging curriculum.


American Butokukan is a progressive, eclectic martial art system incorporating concepts and principles from several ancient combative styles, including principally:


Aikido: which was most recently formalized around 1945 in Japan. Aikido is a distillate of jujutsu (unarmed wrestling and striking techniques) and kenjutsu (sword fighting), with its primary technical roots in the Daito Ryu school of jujutsu. Aikido emphasizes a blending of forces by which the practitioner unbalances an attacker and controls the direction and degree of applied forces. Students study time-space relationships and biomechanics, as well as how to safely take falls.


Karate; which has taken many forms in several Asian societies. Evolving from the simplifying of Chinese martial arts, in Korea it became Tang Soo Do (way of Tang Dynasty hand) and Tae Kwon Do (way of foot and fist), and evolved in Okinawa from Okinawate (Okinawa hand) to Karate (first written using the character for China, translating to China hand, and later using the character for empty, translating to empty hand) and eventually becoming such arts as Shurite (Shuri hand, later splitting into Shuri Ryu and Shorin Ryu) and Shotokan (Shoto's institute), among others. Karate developed primarily during the 17ththrough 20th centuries, and was taken to Japan in the very early 1900s. We simply use the word karate to describe our art. It is typically characterized by rigid, linear punching and kicking techniques made effective through body conditioning and applying proper musculoskeletal alignment.


We also integrate techniques from the following disciplines:

Kenjutsu - Japanese fencing

Iaido - Japanese swordsmanship

Judo - ground fighting

Tae Kwon Do - Korean empty hand fighting

American Freestyle Wrestling

American Freestyle Karate

Western Boxing


More specific information about our curriculum may be found through the following links:

Ranking System




Required Forms Curriculum

Foreign Language

Use of Foreign Language

Mat Curriculum Vocabulary and Etiquette

Guide for Student Behavior

Supplemental Beginner's Etiquette


Criteria For Promotional Evaluation

American Butokukan Testing Procedures

Aikido Testing Procedures and Requirements



Aikido Ranking System


The American Butokukan System places great importance on discipline, and the existence of rank and uniforms is a fundamental tool to that end. We welcome those curious about the martial arts and do not require students to purchase a uniform unless they are put up for promotion. At that time it becomes mandatory for all students attending a promotional examination to be wearing a uniform. The uniform must have the American Butokukan emblem worn on the left upper arm: no other patches are permitted. Once a student has purchased a uniform, they are expected to wear it to every class thereafter. The uniform and how it is worn is both an indication of rank, as well as personal character. A sloppy or unkempt uniform is a sign of a sloppy spirit.


Members of the American Butokukan System study karate and aikido concurrently, but test separately and hold rank separately in each art. The American Butokukan System uses substantially the same ranking and testing system used by most of the major aikido organizations today. In this system there are six grades (kyu) below black belt, and nine degrees (dan) of black belt. All kyu ranked students wear a white belt and a white uniform, regardless of rank. Black belts, in addition to a black belt, also wear a hakama, a divided skirt worn by samurai of the Tokugawa period.


Note that wearing a hakama as a symbol of rank is relatively unique to aikido. In most of the arts where a hakama is worn at all, it is usually worn as part of a student's basic uniform from the beginning of their training, and does not in any way signify their rank. Examples include traditional schools of iaido, kyudo, and kendo. Additionally, some aikido schools permit women to wear a hakama as part of their basic uniform, while men wear one only upon attaining black

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