Frequently Asked Questions
What is the American Ju-Jitsu Association?
The American Ju-Jitsu Association was founded in 1972 by George Kirby & William Fromm at the request of their O’Sensei, Jack Seki, for the purpose of bringing different ryu of the art together in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation and respect. Since that time it has grown from two dojos to approximately 30, plus international affiliates. The AJA has established itself as a reputable organization within the martial arts community and works closely with other major ju-jitsu organizations in the United States and internationally in areas of mutual concern.
The AJA is a non-profit amateur athletic association registered with both the state of California and the United States government [IRS code 501(c)(3)]. It is a non-profit corporation with a charitable foundation status. Although originally recognized by the IRS as a “social club”, because there was no other way to recognize the AJA as an amateur athletic association, formal recognition of the AJA as a true amateur athletic association, according to the criteria of the United States government, was secured in 1976 under the Sports Act of that year. To our knowledge the AJA is the only martial arts organization in the U.S. that is classified by the United States government [IRS] as an amateur athletic association.
How is the AJA governed?
In addition to the AJA Board of Directors, each region may have a regional board, or state directors. A member may provide input to any level of the AJA. Decisions are made according to the procedures established by the Constitution and Bylaws.
Who may join the AJA?
Any ju-jitsu dojo representing any ryu of the art may join the AJA. The instructor, who must hold a yudansha (blackbelt) grade in ju-jitsu, must submit a formal application for membership on behalf of his/her dojo. The dojo registration fee for the first year is waived. Once Dojo membership is secured [normally a 2-4 month process],individuals within that dojo may secure their individual memberships.
What are the benefits of AJA a membership?
First, and most important, you are supporting an organization that is dedicated toward furthering the art of ju-jitsu, whether it be the traditional values of some dojos or more modern attitudes that may involve amateur competition in various formats. In addition, the AJA is involved in a number of international organizations who work closely with one another to further the art. Individual members of the AJA may secure certificates of rank, be considered for national awards administered through regional directors, and receive the quarterly newsletter, among other benefits.
How involved can I become?
You may become as involved as you wish! The AJA encourages participation in all levels of the organization. We are constantly looking for contributions to our newsletter and looking for yudansha who can help in various staff positions.
How many ryu are represented on the board of directors?
There are currently at least five ju-jitsu ryu represented on the Board of Directors. The Board serves as an excellent example of how different ryu can work together for the mutual benefit of the art. The varied composition of the board is one of the major strengths of the AJA.
Does the AJA have any annual conventions or training camps, etc.?
Starting in 1992 that AJA board of directors decided to have a national convention every other year. Individual dojos, groups of dojos, or regions conduct training camps, seminars, host tournaments, and promote other activities suitable to the members’ local needs. In addition, the Budoshin Jujitsu Yudanshakai (a blackbelt society) hosts an annual summer camp in Los Angeles in August for brown- and black-belts, as well as a Camp Budoshin gathering every October for ALL styles of martial arts, where high-level leaders in other martial arts (for example, karate, judo, aikido, sombo) come to teach seminars.
Will my ju-jitsu rank be recognized by the AJA?
The AJA reviews all applications very carefully. Certificates of rank are verified for authenticity, regardless of the language they are written in. There’s a great deal of cooperation between the major ju-jitsu organizations in the U.S., as well as international cooperation in this area. Applicants with an unfamiliar ryu must also submit belt rank requirements for all kyu and dan grades of their ryu, as well as other data that may be required by the Board of Directors. If everything checks out (it usually does), the AJA will grant recognition of your dojo. You may then request the AJA to issue a Certificate of Rank for your existing yudansha grades. All recognized black belt ranks are also acknowledged in the Yudansha Database (https://americanjujitsuassociation.org/directory/black-belts)
Does the AJA test individuals for black belt grades?
The AJA does not normally become involved in the national testing of yudansha-grade candidates. In certain cases AJA’s National Standards and Certification Board will consider candidates for promotion, but only to Nidan or higher grades. The AJA, as an organization, will not test candidates for Shodan; that is normally left to individual schools or dojos to manage through their normal training cycle and formal testing. In cases where no AJA Dojo is nearby, one can also work through the Budoshin Jujitsu Yudanshakai (http://www.budoshin.com) to earn a black belt, but the requirements are as stringent – or more so – than to earn a shodan through a regular school.
Please feel free to contact us. We’ll be glad to answer any questions you might have.