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With 20 days to my first-ever (6 kyu) grading exam I've started cramming stuff into my brain, and into muscle memory.
Several months ago I copied all the requirements (for all tests through shodan) from the exam preparation page on the Aikido of San Diego web site, and pasted them into Google Docs spreadsheet. As I learn them I can make notes, and then review from time to time. Using Google Docs lets me access it from anywhere, including my iPhone when I have a spare moment.
Here's what I have to know, plus real basic-basics like etiquette & how to stand in hanmi. (Formatting/punctuation is my own. Not standard, but clearer to me.):
6 Kyu Exam Content
Ukemi: Forward roll
Ukemi: Back roll
Katate-dori: tai no henko,
Katate-dori: shihonage, omote
Katate-dori: shihonage, ura
Shomen-uchi: Ikkyo, omote
Shomen-uchi: Ikkyo, ura
Suwariwaza: kokyu dosa
I have a paragraph or two of notes on each, from big "what is this" info to little tips on the finer points of execution. Sometimes just having a few key words is a huge help. "The zig-zag one, where you end with their arm pinned flat to the floor" (katete-dori shihonage omote), or "the one where you disappear behind Uke" (...ura), or the way-more-fun-sounding-than-it-really-is "smooshing a pie in Uke's face," (suwariwaza kokyu dosa).
Now that I have the info down, I can sort of drill myself on it, mentally, and use visualization to practice each technique a few hundred times in my mind. Before last week I was uncertain about enough points that I didn't dare work on memorization or visualization for fear of ingraining the wrong thing.
I'm comfortable that I at least know what all the techniques are, if I were to hear the names called out, and can go through the motions of each. Now I need to get the names down flat, so I'll still know what they are even under pressure and try to get a little finesse and flow in the execution of each.
6 training/mentoring days to go, and a 3-day Retreat. Acck!
I'm also working on cardio & breathing, so I don't get so winded I can't see straight during jiyuwaza. I don't know if Sensei sets students up in class so we get a direct and vivid understanding of our weakest points, but last Tuesday's class pointed out that I need to deal with high-level, short-burst work more than I have been.