2015/2016 AJA Web Site Enhancements

An edited version of this appears in the Winter, 2017 AJA Newsletter. That issue and many back issues can be found at


We’ve been busy making improvements to the AJA web site, but we haven’t told you much about them. This seems like a good time to fix that.


In 2015 we gave the web site some major enhancements. As a result of those enhancements we enabled dojos and members to be renewed instantly by sensei online, with easy, secure payments through PayPal. Promotion certificates can now be applied for online as well, and those approved applications will now remain available without disappearing. We transformed the Yudansha list from a hard-to-maintain pdf file to an always-updated list, and Kristine Wiscarson (our hard-working Membership Coordinator and Board Secretary) added every past Yudansha we could find to the database. Past members can easily be found and renewed with a click or two when students return to a dojo after a hiatus. Members who switch dojos can retain the records and AJA ID; Kristine can easily move members (in the database) to their new dojo on request. New dojos still have some old-fashioned paperwork to do, but current dojos will generally have none at all. Sensei can manage their students’ early kyu ranks on the web site, and record any changes in contact information. Sankyu and higher ranks are now managed as part of the promotion certificate process. Most sensei took advantage of these new features for 2016 memberships, and the feedback was quite favorable. Paper checks will still work, but they have to be mailed a couple of times on the administrative side, and our enhancements didn’t speed up US mail at all.


We designed, developed, and released a bunch of additional enhancements during 2016. One of the things we noticed in January 2016 was that all the dojos fell off of the dojo directory on New Year’s Day. This made perfect sense, but it wasn’t what we’d intended, and the dojos didn’t reappear until they were renewed. We’ve done two things to prevent that from happening any more. First, the web site will now accept dojo (and member) renewals as early as two months before the December 31 expiration date; these early renewals are good through the following calendar year and protect a dojo from expiring at all. Second, we’ve added a six-week grace period to the online Dojo Directory. We still strongly suggest renewing dojos before the end of the year, to prevent any lapse in membership benefits, but at least our online directory will be patient about it. There had historically been some confusion about AJA #s being reused, and we’ve now improved the database to protect against that, at least for the current and past members recent enough to be in the database at all. A student’s initial AJA # should (from now on) be their number for life, whenever possible. We had been getting a lot of nonsense “new dojo” submissions caused by automated probes, and many inappropriate login attempts, so we added “Captcha” support to those screens to reduce the noise and threat level. The “rank” field is no longer required, so selected students can receive correct membership cards even if their particular circumstances don’t call for an AJA-certified rank. The Yudansha directory has been enhanced to support “Promoting Sensei” (so we can preserve that information, when available, from our old Yudansha lists). We added a large number of back issues of the newsletter, though the set is still far from complete (please let me know if you have any that are missing from the web site).

We had to give up one useful feature from 2015: we’d implemented a marvelous PayPal feature that enabled students to pay their individual membership fees electronically using a “Public URL” from PayPal, sent to them by their sensei. Unfortunately the feature proved unreliable, and fixing it would have blown our budget, so it has been removed. In addition, there are still some areas on the web site that are out of date. In some cases (like the Events page) we just need better information about upcoming events. In other cases (such as this blog) we simply need contributions, or perhaps some cross-fertilization with the newsletter. When you run across a neglected area, please keep in mind that we are all volunteers. Your thoughts are most welcome.

We are making plans for the next round of enhancements, though we haven’t yet scheduled them. If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to send a note. The web site is for you.

Please note that every sensei should have a user name and password on our web site ( to take advantage of these features. If you still need one, please just let me know. The “Sensei Login” link is at the lower right corner of the home page.

Scott Finley, AJA Webmaster