ADK syllabus

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The ADK Yudansha Syllabus

Professor Rick Clark (8th  Dan)

Sensei Bill Burgar (6th Dan)

Sensei Ken Tucker (5th Dan)

Sensei Steven Webster (4th Dan)


Sensei Rick Clark has identified the Kaizen principle as one which can form the cornerstone of a syllabus of training and assessment within Ao Denkou Kai, satisfying the problems the group has faced in the past, in formulating a syllabus for award of grade, and a structure for individual’s metered improvement.

Sensei Clark has worked with a group of ADK Instructors, to solidify the ideas for this system into a framework which can be presented to the ADK Group, as the way in which future award of grade will be assessed.  More importantly, this framework will provide ADK Members, as well as those who wish to advance their training with the assistance of ADK, a formal way of gaining the counsel of the group.



Due to the diversity of martial artists drawn towards Ao Denkou Kai, capturing a syllabus of assessment for all these candidates is an impossible task. Instead, the various levels of Dan grade are distinguished through skills and achievements that the candidate is able to demonstrate.

The final deliverable from this initiative will be a set of requirements, serving as a verbose indication of the varying levels of skills expected in different yudansha.

Particular syllabus may be drawn by individual ADK instructors, each from different core styles. Instructor's may use the requirements delivered as a result of this paper, as yardsticks against which to measure their own assessment criteria.

Shuhari As It Relates To Award Of Grade Within ADK

Shuhari describes the Zen doctrine often referred to as "completing the circle", used to denote the three phases of transition from beginner to master. Throughout one's progression within the Dan grade structure within Ao Denkou Kai, careful attention should be paid to the concept of Shuhari, which underpins the grade requirements, guiding one around this circle of learning.

"Shu", literally "to protect or maintain", represents "learning from tradition". This stage of training is what allows our art to be passed from teacher to student, and is indispensable in our study of any art. "Shu" correlates with the Ao Denkou Kai emphasis on constant maintainance of a strong core "delivery system", and would accurately describe the stage of achieving shodan and nidan.

"Ha", literally "to detach" is most often considered in terms of "breaking free the chains of tradition". This should not be misinterpreted as discarding of tradition, but rather a blossoming in strength and ability through introspection of one's self, and one's art. "Ha" correlates with the understanding and integration of the philosophies and principles advocated within Ao Denkou Kai, and the ability of the student to allow these concepts to uniquely flavour their own practice of their own art. This would typically describe the stage of achieving sandan or yondan.

Finally, "Ri" which literally means "to go beyond or transcend" describes the stage in our training of relentless pursuit of our own perfection and our own philosophy. Continual meditation on our art is interspersed with more and more frequent flashes of inspiration. This process slowly allows the completion of the circle of learning, at which point our ascension provides us with a higher, yet solidified tradition to work from. Within Ao Denkou Kai, "Ri" defines the stage at which one is not a student of a system, but a master of their system.

There can be no time limit on the progression through Shuhari, and the borders between each stage of learning are fluid and overlapping. Gradually, the student will withdraw from one stage as they enter the next, underlining the difficulty and lack of necessity in applying "requiring times in grade".

The student progresses when the student has progressed.

Categories of Study

Core Delivery System

The ADK Yudansha should never relinquish their study of their core delivery system. The skills studied and learned within Ao Denkou Kai are only useful if one has the delivery system and fundmental skills necessary for a martial artist.

If one seeks to improve within ADK, then they should demonstrate that they are improving not only the specific skills taught within ADK, but the skills applicable to their core martial art.

Kyusho Waza

The thread that binds the diversity of styles within Ao Denkou Kai, is kyusho waza, or vital point techniques. ADK Yudansha are expected to gain skills in locating, traumatising and capitalising on vital point techniques. Furthermore, it is expected that vital point techniques will ultimately permeate the student's art, so that they are not an 'art unto themselves' but simply increase the effectiveness of all aspects of the student's art, from their core delivery system outwards.

Location of Kyusho

The first skill necessary within ADK, is the ability to correctly locate kyusho on a compliant training partner. The student should confidently be able to indicate on a training partner the location of a particular vital point, as well as demonstrating through application of pressure, seizing, or light tapping, how pain may be elicited on the point. The student is not expected to strike points at this stage, and should instead be concerned that they are able to consistently and correctly locate the point with precision and finesse.

No particular syllabus of vital points is presented here, as the vital points most easily incorporated into a student's art depends on their core art. It is suggested, though not required, that the student assimilate vital points according to "target zones", which are recommended below as:

bulletThe Lower Arm
bulletThe Upper Arm
bulletThe Lower Leg
bulletThe Upper Leg
bulletThe Head/Neck
bulletThe Front Torso
bulletThe Back Torso

Learning vital points with this classification will allow the student to more easily explore the ADK philosophies and methodologies, however they are not restricted in learning, for instance, all the lower arm points, before being allowed to learn the upper arm points. Selection of vital points will be agreed between the student and the mentor.

The student is encouraged to learn the acupuncture definition of each of the vital points (e.g Gallbladder 20) as this nomenclature proves useful in written communication concerning vital points. Similarly, it may be useful to gain superficial understanding of the underlying physiology associated with a particular vital point (e.g. "foramen of the hypoglossal nerve").

Such knowledge should be assimilated over time, and will not necessarily form pass/fail requirements for grade.

Trauma of Kyusho

Once the student is confident in being able to consistently locate kyusho, they should gain skill in being able to traumatise the kyusho as an integral part of their martial arts. The student will demonstrate an understanding of the correct evasion, orientation and unbalancing required to make the kyusho accessible in a practical self-defence context.

The issue of safe practice will be strongly instilled by the student's mentor, and instilling the ability to traumatise kyusho should not require unnecessary and repeated trauma to training partners. Numerous methods of training kyusho are advocated within Ao Denkou Kai, and can be learned from ADK Instructors.

Renzokugeiko Kyusho Waza

The student should develop an understanding of the cumulative effects of traumatising kyusho. The student should develop skills of capitalising on successful trauma, with predictable and repeatable followup techniques. Largely, the trauma of kyusho will follow the ADK methodology of "Targets of Opportunity", which suggests how the student can learn the predictable response to any trauma, and the new subset of targets that this makes available. This principle will perhaps lead the mentor and student in deciding a set of kyusho from each of the recommended "zones".

Techniques utilising combination of point strikes will exemplify a variety of different principles, which demonstrate the difference between "atemi waza" (striking techniques) and "todome waza" (finishing blow techniques). The student will utilise kyusho combinations in a variety of manners, including seizing, trapping, distracting, setting up or striking, to maximise the likelihood that a given strike may be labelled as todome waza.

The student may pursue a number of training methods, in order that they develop skills in both selection of appropriate point combinations, as well as drilling of these point combinations with effective and practical techniques.

Application of Kyusho to Core Delivery System

The student should recognise the futility of kyusho jutsu skills, without the martial skills. Evasion, orientation, distraction and unbalancing are first required, to obtain the opportunity to utilise kyusho jutsu. An effective delivery system (speed, power and focus) is paramount to being able to attack kyusho whilst adhering to the ADK principle of redundancy which ensures that false importance is not placed on kyusho waza.

As the student progresses through the ADK Yudansha syllabus, they should increasingly demonstrate how their nascent skills in traumatising kyusho, can be incorporated ever more seamlessly to their core martial art, which they have thusfar ingrained. True mastery of vital point techniques, will ultimately result in the casual observer being oblivious to their usage.

Kyusho Jutsu Research

Once a student has gained confident and repeatable skills in traumatising kyusho as an integral part of their current martial art skills, they may wish to explore the more esoteric aspects of Kyusho Jutsu.

There are several schools of thoughts, many of them related to Eastern practices (eg Acupuncture), which speculate that selection of kyusho point combination, and trauma of kyusho themselves, may be enhanced and better understood by understanding of these practices.

Ao Denkou Kai has advocated from it's inception, to "discern practical and effective applications, often using vital points". This doctrine of practicality has typically deemed that the return on time invested in concerning oneself with such practices, warrants that they come a considerable time after learning to apply the "simpler" skills, in a predictable, repeatable and practical fashion.

The other ADK core tenet of cross-training states that one must "look to other styles to discern useful techniques", and this acknowledges that the academic study of such matters is ultimately worthwhile. At an advanced stage of training within ADK, the study of kyusho jutsu may progress past the more easily learned skills of simply physically traumatising kyusho, to embark on study of other methods, which may uncover new and useful skills or techniques.


One of the core philosophies on which Ao Denkou Kai was founded, was that of Cross-Training. However, Ao Denkou Kai does not promote cross-training such that students are actively training at any one time in a variety of martial arts, or in a "blender style" of martial art. More particularly, the student should maintain the notion of their own "core system" (the art that they brought with them to Ao Denkou Kai), that they are constantly reinforcing with an introspective look at their strengths and weaknesses at any particular point in their training program.

Cross Training can be obtained from within ADK, through attending seminars, training regularly with ADK instructors, etc, or by explicitly studying with another martial arts school. Studying with more than one instructor, or with more than one club, is strongly encouraged within Ao Denkou Kai, provided it is not at detriment to their skill-level. The mentor assigned to a student can advise.

The Difference between Training and Drilling

Before embarking on cross-training, the student should endeavour to understand the difference between training and drilling, and why a balance must exist between the two. Training can be considered the time spent working to redress our weaknesses, and may typically comprise 80% of our time spent in the dojo. Drilling on the other hand, comprises consolidated and high-intensity practice of the small subset of our art with which we have confidence in being able to apply most effectively. Initially, drilling is likely to comprise around 20% of our time in the dojo.

As the student progresses through the Dan structure, they will have followed a process of refinement, in which their broad base of skills is honing towards a level at which they can justifiably identify a small core set of technqiues and training methods, which they will drill on an increasingly regular basis.

Identifying Strengths

A period of consolidated introspection, balanced with observation by the student's mentor, should first identify the student's strengths. It is easy to continually practice that which we know we are competent at, rather than choose to address those skills we are naturally deficient in.

By identifying one's strengths, the student will naturally select a group of techniques which they can concentrate on drilling, rather than concentrate on practicing.

Identifying Weaknesses

In contrast to identifying strengths, the student should identify weaknesses in their art (this may refer to aspects of their core art to which they should pay further attention) as well as deficiencies in their art (this refers to aspects of martial arts which their core art is not particulary suited - consider that a judoka may identify a deficiency as being striking techniques, whilst a karateka may identify groundwork as being a deficiency).

By identifying one's weaknesses, the student will gain appreciation of how much, and what kind, of cross-training should be necessary for their short to medium-term improvement.

Identifying Aims and Objectives

With the diversity of member's backgrounds within Ao Denkou Kai, it is appreciated that the aims and objectives of yudansha students differs across the board. As examples: many students are intent on refining their martial skills to be imminently applicable to self-defence, whilst others are keen to round their skills so they may studiously understand the forms in their art. Within ADK, the spread of objectives is as diverse as the spread of represented styles and arts.  However, many members fail to consider with themselves why they are training, and what it is they wish to achieve, in the short, medium and long term.

Identifying one's aims and objectives is also a crucial step in deciding the nature and extent of cross-training that the student should undertake.

Implicit Cross-Training, within ADK

The student will be exposed to methods outside of their core art, by a variety of means. Regular seminar attendance should ensure that they are being presented with a well-balanced view of martial arts, giving them specific techniques which they can work into their repertoire.

Regular training within ADK Clubs or with ADK Instructors/Members (either by attending their dojo, or by inviting them to your own dojo) should also serve to expose the student to specific techniques.

Additionally, numerous training exercises exist within Ao Denkou Kai, which address common deficiencies, and provide methods with which they can be practiced in the student's own time. Supplemental training materials exist to reinforce these training methods.

Explicit Cross-Training, outside ADK

Where a student has identified a strong deficiency, or has chosen to prioritise a particular deficiency in their training, they may elect to explicitly cross-train in a particular aspect of the arts, by studying in a particular style or art in another club.

This long-term strategy is best suited to addressing a particular deficiency in one's core style, provided it is not at detriment to being able to continue study of one's core style, and provided the student is sufficiently skilled in their core style that cross-training in another method does not confuse them in both.

Assimilating Cross-Training with Core Art

Ultimately, the student should no longer identify specific techniques as "an aikido lock", "a judo throw" or "a tae kwon do kick", for example. Instead, cross-training should fill the gaps in the core style, whilst passage of time should smooth the differences between these different aspects. As the student learns new skills, either implicitly or explicitly as described above, they should employ a constant process of integration, so that techniques learned are incorporated and accepted into their martial art, rather than stuck awkwardly on the side. This will be more evident as students progress through the Dan ranks.

Principles and Methodologies

As a research group spanning multiple styles of martial art, Ao Denkou Kai promotes principles and methodologies that are equally applicable to all members. These principles and methodologies generally offer approaches or considerations that may be taken when one is considering the best way to improve or widen their current skills.

As the Kaizen philosophy recommends, the continual refinement of the students has collective benefit for the group, and thus principles or methodologies are fluid and dynamic, rather than doctrines set in stone. The list below outlines some of the philosophies that have been at the core of ADK, which the student may wish to incorporate into their training philosophy.

Kyusho: Targets of Opportunity, Predictable Response

"Targets of Opportunity" is the term borrowed by Sensei Clark, to describe a useful paradigm with which to approach selection of vital points, both in self-defence situations, and in analysis of kata for vital point techniques.

Stimulating kyusho correctly elicits a predictable response in the attacker, the degree of which is experientially dictated by the normal distribution (bell curve). The nature of this predictable response is such that the attacker responds to the stimulus in such a manner, as to present to us a new set of targets, from which we can select our subsequent attack.

It is easy to extrapolate, and understand how the location of each attack is selected from the targets of opportunity that are presented as a result of the predictable response of our initial, and subsequent techniques.

Local anatomical, physiological or energetic phenomena may suggest that "some targets are better than others", but ADK strongly advocates tht these improvements are considered as a bonus, rather than a requirement, for any technique to be combat practical.

Kyusho: Fault Tolerance and Redundancy

Fault tolerance and redundancy are terms both used to describe the failsafe means by which a technique can be performed in such a way, that it's effectiveness may degrade gracefully, rather than exhibit an "all or nothing" success.

With respect to kyusho waza, ADK recommends an approach in which there is no reliance placed on the success of kyusho waza, only that successful trauma to kyusho waza as part of a technique may:

bulletBecome the technique itself
bulletFacilitate the application of the technique
bulletEnable the opportunity to deliver the todome waza

Kyusho waza are described within ADK as "the poison on the arrow", using this metaphor to underline that all the skill and effort should be focussed on being able to fire the arrow accurately at the target, with the "poison" simply offering the opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of the technique.

Kyusho: Target Rich Environments

As the student learns the location of a kyusho, they will also learn the areas or zones of the body in which a number of vital points exist over a small area. Following the failsafe principles of redundancy, students are encouraged to utilise kyusho from within these target rich environments increasing the likely effectiveness of any technique that does not work as originally intended.

Technique Analysis: Ockham's Razor

Ockham's Razor is a doctrine of simplicity, which suggests that "when there are 2 competing solutions to a problem, the simplest one is most often correct". When analysing techniques for effectiveness, or breaking down forms for applications, the students is reminded of the cutting test offered by Ockham's Razor.

Technique Analysis: Thinking Out of the Box

"Out of the Box" thinking is a term coined to describe the process of lateral thinking which is often usefully employed when analysing forms/kata to uncover useful applications. Though common-sense principles can help sieve which techniques are and are not combat effective, making the initial conceptual leap as to what the form movement may be, is a skill which must be developed.

Cross-training can assist the student in recognising "non-obvious" applications for form movements, but time spent within ADK and around ADK instructors should help develop the skills to laterally approach kata.

Training Methods: Cross Training

Cross training is a principle at the core of Ao Denkou Kai. It is an understanding within ADK, that any individual art, will place emphasis on one particular martial aspect (ie striking art, throwing art, trapping art) at the subsequent detriment of other aspects. Cross-training is recognised within ADK as a key way of ironing-out the deficiencies of any one art, by first identifying aspects that need attention, before identifying ways of reducing this deficiency.

Cross training may demand that the student explicitly studies another art, with another instructor, or it may simply require that the student pay more attention to certain aspects of their training, under the guidance and tutelage of one or more mentors within ADK.

Training Methods: Habitual Acts and Associated Probability

The term "Habitual Acts of Violence" is one that has been coined by Kyoshi Patrick McCarthy, and is now widely accepted as describing the various different assaults that have plagued mankind, in unprovoked assault. These acts of violence do not encapsulate tournament-style attacks such as Karate-style punches, Tae Kwon Do kicks, or Judo-style grapples, but instead encompass the various manner of grabs, pushes, punches, etc, that we would typically expect to face from an untrained attacker. Within ADK, students are encouraged to study and consider these habitual acts of violence, and establish how their training can be used to deal with them, rather than deal with tournament or unrealistic Karate attacks.

A consequence of considering the Habitual Acts of Violence, is that one must also learn to utilise their art from a different range - short range - if this is not already how they practice. The ability to operate at close-range is one which students are expected to become increasingly comfortable with.

With each of the habitual acts of violence, the student should be able to consider a probability with which they expect to face each assault, in effect ranking the different assaults in terms of the likelihood of them having to face them. There are many different factors which may change the ranking of probabilities between different members - the 'ordinary citizen', the Law Enforcement Officer, and the Doorman, might all consider different attacks to be more likely in their own situations of defense. Students are encouraged to consider this probability alongside the habitual acts of violence, and ensure that this is catered for in their training programme. As a student progresses in learning, they should of course become confident against as many acts of violence as possible, with probability weighting simply acting as a tool with which one can focus their training efforts.

Training Methods: Pareto's Law of 80/20

Pareto's Law can be paraphrased in many ways, but essentially this rule of thumb dictates that 80% of the effort is spent on 20% of the task, or 80% of the usefulness is yielded from 20% of the resource, etc. Essentially, this rule of thumb can be usefully considered when a student is refining their range of techniques for self-defence, selecting a subset of kyusho on which to become expert at targeting, etc. This simple philosophy is widely applicable by it's generality, and the ADK student is encouraged to pay heed to it.

Training Methods: Maximum Efficiency, Minimum Effort

Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo, listed "Seiryoku-Zen'yo" as one of his 2 maxims, which was used to describe his philosophy in achieving Maximum Efficiency, through Minimum Effort. This philosophy is shared within Ao Denkou Kai, and this capitalisation of efficiency is greatly aided by incorporating vital point methods. The ADK student is encouraged, through the process of continual refinement, to learn the most efficient way of applying techniques, so that they may achieve the same effects with less effort, or greater effect with the same effort.

Formation of Training Syllabus            

Under the guidance of a mentor, a student can formulate their own syllabus in order to achieve their personal goals. The mentor will ratify the syllabus as meeting the goals necessary for rank promotion in accordance with the ADK Yudansha requirements.

Identification of Personal Style

One of the ultimate aims of the Ao Denkou Kai syllabus, is that the syllabus is not imposed on the student, but the student is imposed on the syllabus.

Consequently, the syllabus of assessment is versatile enough to encompass the diversity of martial artists, from differing styles, with their own unique aims and objectives in their training from shodan and beyond.   With this versatility in place, the onus is then placed with the student, to define for themselves their own strengths and weaknesses, and to embark on  a programme of training that distributes them in a more balanced fashion.

Furthermore, the student is asked to consider what it is that they wish to achieve in their continued training, and use this analysis to discern the directions that they wish their training to take.  One may wish to become accomplished in a small but effective system of self-defence based on study of but a single kata, whilst another wishes to add depth to the breadth of their art, by applying ADK principles and methods across the training they have performed thusfar.  In short, the aims and objectives of each student, will be unique,  ultimately dictatating the direction their training should take.

This movement of responsibility for one’s training from the instructor, to the student, is one of the key factors in preparing the student for the ascension from the “Shu” stage of Shuhari, to “ha” and beyond.  In this role, the instructor then assumes the role of a mentor, providing instruction where required, direction where identified, and feedback where necessary, to guide the student towards their goals. 

Consider the difference between a school teacher, and a University Professor, and the different manner in which they assist in different educational environments, and the balance of responsibility between instructors and students within Ao Denkou Kai, as a research group, will be better understood.

It should be noted that in order for a group to be able to support the needs of it’s members in this specialised fashion, the group must possess a diversity of knowledge, skills and abilities at the instructor level.  Clearly, this is a strength which Ao Denkou Kai has demonstrated strongly in the past, justifying it’s pivotal role in this new method of training and assessment.


Goal Oriented Martial Arts

ADK does not set a syllabus. Instead we believe that each martial artist should take charge of his or her own progress. Each ADK member will have a foundation in a core delivery system and as such will have unique learning needs in order to become a more rounded martial artist. For example a grappler will need to obtain striking skills and a striker will need to obtain grappling skills. In order to facilitate the most efficient progress for each member we have adopted a method that we call goal oriented martial arts. We use a mentor system to facilitate goal oriented martial arts.

There are guidelines for the level of knowledge and skill that each person should attain for each dan requirement. How the martial artist reaches each level and exactly what knowledge and skill they have under their belt is left as an open question to be answered uniquely by each member.

In essence goals are set by the member in association with his mentor. The member is then measured against those goals for dan grading purposes. More importantly this process facilitates a steady progress to acquiring new skills and maintaining existing skills. This in turn means that each ADK member takes charge of their own progress.

This method of setting goals and measuring progress to those goals ensures that ADK fully includes practitioners from all martial arts in a fair and unform way without stifling any creativity of the individuals nor dictating a “one size fits all” syllabus while at the same time binding everyone together with common philosophical aims.

ADK is a geographically diverse group and it is envisaged that many mentor-mentee relationships will be carried out via email with only very occasional face to face meetings. This has the advantage that members can select mentors from a world-wide pool of members.

For further information on how we facilitate goal oriented martial arts training see the mentor system.

Achievement of goals is tested by using the check-in system. There are both mini-check-ins and major-check-ins.

The Mentor System

Members are assisted by mentors and peers in their progress towards their goals . In turn members assist their peers and mentees.

Using the dan requirements and Categories of Study as guidelines members negotiate, with their mentors and close peers, a set of goals or objectives that they need to reach in order to be assessed for their next grade. The goals should be approved by an examining instructor and should fit in with the dan requirements and ADK Principles.

Once agreed and written down the major goals are broken down into a set of mini-goals so that steady progress towards the major goals can be measured and planned for. The member, with the guidance of the mentor, then sets about training to meet the mini-goals and thereby the major goals.

Achievement of goals is tested by using the check-in system. There are both mini-check-ins and major-check-ins.


The mentor should be a "sensei" roughly translated as "one who has gone before". He should guide the member towards the goals without doing the work for the member. He is there as a sounding board for the member to ask questions and obtain guidance as to how to proceed. He should give advice about the type of skills the mentee should be working on and how to work those skills most effectively. Each member may have more than one Mentor, particularly if skills in various areas are required. For example if someone has particular skills say in grappling it would make sense to go to that person to optimally gain those skills.

The mentor-mentee relationship can be two way. For example a grappler and a striker may be each other’s mentors for the skills that they have specialised in. i.e. the grappler is the strikers mentor for grappling skills and the striker is the grapplers mentor for striking skills.

Minor Checkins

The mini-goals are the subject of the "mini-check-in". This is a session where mentor and member (and peers where appropriate) meet in order to assess whether the mini-goals have been achieved. If they have been achieved then the member can continue to work towards the next mini-goal. If the mini-goals have not been met then a plan should be put in place to ensure that proper progress is made and another mini-check-in should be set up to repeat the assessment.

Major goals are tested at the major-check-ins.

Major Checkins (Gradings)

The main goals are the subject of a major-check-in. This is the grading where the examining instructor. assesses the member against the goals that have been set.

If the goals have been met the dan grade is awarded and the cycle of setting new goals for the next grading can begin.

If the goals have not been met then a plan should be put in place to ensure that proper progress is made and another check-in (mini or major as appropriate) can be arranged to repeat the assessment.

Minor goals are tested at the mini-check-ins.


Club Instructor

A club instructor will be of Shodan grade or above in their core system and will maintain the tradition of that system. They will also have been awarded Yudansha rank within the ADK and be fully committed to imparting the principles and philosophy of the ADK.

Club instructors are responsible for teaching the core delivery system onto which the principles of the ADK will be layered. Consequently club instructors should make every effort to attend any ADK seminars in their area, so that they are kept up to date with the aims and philosophies of the ADK.

Assistant Seminar Instructor

An Assistant Seminar Instructor will be Nidan level or above in the ADK and fully conversant with the techniques and traditions of their core system. At this level they will also be familiar with styles outside of their core system so that they may assist a Seminar Instructor in seminars at which various styles of martial art may be represented.

Seminar Instructor

It is expected (although not mandatory) that a Seminar Instructor will be at least Sandan in their core system and will have experience of styles outside that core system. More importantly they will hold a senior Yudansha rank of the ADK and be fully conversant with the aims, principles and philosophy of the ADK and how they apply to martial arts in general.

A seminar instructor will make themselves available to visit any club to which they have been invited, in order to impart ADK principles and philosophy.

At this level the instructor will be acting as an ambassador for the ADK and therefore a Seminar Instructor can only be certified by the head of the ADK.

Regional Instructor

Regional Instructors can be any of the above classification of instructor, but they have responsibility for the instruction in a particular geographic region.

Regional Instructors act as point of contact for other instructors and students within their area and are responsible for the organisation and co-ordination of seminars within that area. Any particular geographic area may have more than one regional instructor and in this case they support each other and share the required co-ordination.

Certification Requirements

Any teaching license may be immediately revoked for any action, word or deed, that brings the ADK into disrepute

All instructors must hold public indemnity insurance obtained from their local association or governing body and a current first aid certificate.

Club Instructor

bulletShodan or above
bulletRegular attendance at seminars
bulletTeaching license issued by the head of the ADK on recommendation by Regional Instructor/Seminar Instructor

Teaching license renewable every 3 years

Assistant Seminar Instructor

bulletNidan or above
bulletRegular attendance at training camps and seminars
bulletTeaching license issued by the head of the ADK on recommendation by Seminar Instructor

Teaching license renewable every 3 years

Seminar Instructor

bulletSandan or above
bulletRegular attendance at training camps and seminars
bulletTeaching license certified directly from the head of the ADK

 Teaching license renewable every 3 years

Charter for ADK Members

The Ao Denkou Kai is an organization, dedicated to the study and research of martial arts. It is built upon the premise of  trust and respect between and among its students and teachers.

All ADK members, both full and associate, are required  not to bring the ADK into disrepute through any actions, deeds or words that might present the ADK in an unfavourable manner.

No member is required to become a member of the ADK exclusively, it is expected that they will remain members of their local associations and governing bodies, through which they will receive insurance cover and rank in their core system..  For ranking in the ADK please see the ADK Yudansha requirement pages.

ADK Membership

Instructors and students who actively participate in a dojo that is a member of the ADK automatically become full members of the ADK. Such instructors would hold a Yudansha rank and a teaching license issued by the ADK. All full members are eligible for rank advancement as issued by the ADK.

ADK members agree to aim for the highest standards of martial arts as teachers and students of Ao Denkou Jutsu. For all ADK teachers and students of Ao Denkou Jutsu, these standards include the striving for the best intellectual and physical martial art skills that each individual's potential allows. To this end ADK encourages it's members to research Kyusho Jutsu and any/all other martial arts.

Though there is no formal application process for membership within Ao Denkou Kai, a list of active members is maintained. These active members must satisfy the following criteria:

bulletRegularly attends ADK seminars and events whensoever able.
bulletShares philosophy and training methodologies in common with ADK
bulletActively promotes the good name and reputation of ADK, ADK philosophy and ADK training methodologies wherever possible.
bulletHas "bought-into" the ADK philosophy and training methodologies.
bulletHas one or more ADK mentors and where appropriate is offering mentor services to other ADK members.
bulletHas received or is working towards rank in ADK.

ADK members agree to provide by their best endeavours, the finest instruction and promotion of the art of Ao Denkou Jutsu and the principles of the Ao Denkou Kai throughout the world.

To this end, ADK members agree to support and encourage each and every other ADK member.

ADK Associate Membership

Associate membership exists for those who wish to align with ADK, and support the endeavours of ADK, whilst maintaining distance from the formal requirements for full membership. An associate member should satisfy at least some of the following:

bulletAttends ADK seminars and events whensoever able.
bulletShares philosophy and training methodologies in common with ADK
bulletWants to be associated with ADK but does not require mentor services or rank.
bulletActively promotes the good name and reputation of ADK, ADK philosophy and ADK training methodologies wherever possible.

Associate members of the ADK do not receive rank from the ADK but recognise theworth of the ADK training, philosophies and aims. They fully support the ADK by organizing or attending seminars and training sessions given by ADK instructors.

Grade Award

A final process that will be implemented as part of the ADK grading system, is a bi-annual publication of grade awards.  A “New Year List” and a “Summer” list will be put out respectively, indicating rank promotions that have occurred within the organisation in the previous six months, under Professor Rick Clark.

Conclusion: The Road Ahead

An infrastructure has been put in place that satisfies the requirements, often seemingly conflicting, of a grading system that can suit a diverse range of martial artists, bound together by the common principles of cross-training, and the use of kyusho methods, to facilitate advanced training following the award of black-belt.

With the process for award, the process for assessment, the process for certification, and the underlying principle of Kaizen set in place, the road ahead requires consolodation of the principles that will require to be satisfied for each of the individual dan grades.

These principles will be agreed by committee within Ao Denkou Kai, approved by Sensei Rick Clark, and disseminated to ADK members, as goals to which they should align their targets, for continual improvement.


The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of all the members of Ao Denkou Kai, who over the period of the last several years, have offered their opinions on the various suggestions for formalising grade award within Ao Denkou Kai.

The solution presented here, is a product of these various contributions, and reflects the importance with which Sensei Clark himself has placed on each and every suggestion.


  1. Clark, R.:”Kaizen – Managing Improvement”, Proceedings of the ADK2000 International Seminar Convention
  2. McCarthy, P.:”Shuhari”, http://www.society.webcentral.com.au/


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Last modified: 09/28/10