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New Student
04-28-2006, 12:18 PM
I'd like to hear thoughts on why so much emphasis seems to be placed on testing. I've been studying Aikido since the beginning of the year and proudly wear my white belt.

I'm been "invited" to test for 6th kyu next month. What is the big deal with formal testing? All my fellow students approached me after class congratulating me and what-not. It's like I've been bestowed some huge gift...

I'd personally be perfectly happy wearing a very dirty white belt for the next however many years it takes to acheive Shodan. Once acheiving Shodan, I'll tie my dogi with a black belt and confidently answer that I know very little about AIkido to any kyu ranked co-students.

So, I have 2 questions:

Can I respectfully request that I not take the test?

If I do have to take the test, can I respectfully request that I may continue to wear my white belt?

Thanks for your comments.

Lucy Smith
04-28-2006, 12:42 PM
I have never seen anybody that doesn't want to achieve a new rank... I mean, why do you want to wear your white belt even if you are a yellow, or whatever? Every color has a different meaning. Testing's porpouse is to know what you are capable of. It's like school years. Every year you learn something new. And at the end of it, you need to test to be able to pass to the next year and learn the new stuff. Colors are also a good way to know who you are working with, especially for new students. I'm a new student, so I always practice with green or blue belts, since I know a yellow belt knows only a little bit more than I do, so a more advanced student will be able to teach me better. It's also nice to know that you've earned that belt, by hard work and a lot of practice.

Michael O'Brien
04-28-2006, 01:13 PM
I'm sure can respectfully request not to test, although I don't know how that will be received by your Sensei.

What really confuses me though is that you made the comment that you'll wear your white belt until you achive Shodan and that tie on your black belt. How do you think you achieve Shodan? It is by testing up the ranks like every student who has come before you.

In our dojo everyone wears a white belt until they achieve Shodan. So rank beginner, 6th kyu, 2nd kyu, etc all wear white belts, before, during, and after our tests. LOL

However, if your dojo uses a colored belt system I personally would be honored that your Sensei feels you are ready to test, take your test, graciously accept your new rank AND belt, and go on with your training.

Janet Rosen
04-28-2006, 02:17 PM
However, if your dojo uses a colored belt system I personally would be honored that your Sensei feels you are ready to test, take your test, graciously accept your new rank AND belt, and go on with your training.
pretty much what I was going to say! I'd add:
Within a given dojo, the testing/belt system does help the individual have periods of ramping up training, hence kicking her butt into a higher level of practice than she might otherwise attain. At the same time, progressing in rank recognises a current level of training w/ which may come responsibility to those less advanced--which is often helpful in bringing along those now junior to you.

Password? Username?
04-28-2006, 02:18 PM
Testing is part of the training. The closest you can get to a "real live" attack is from Ran Dori and testing. How will you know how well you can do under pressure?

It is also a time to focus on a few techniques and hone them. Rather than coming in for class and getting this and that, here and there.

Testing shows the school how they have been as training partners. It also highlights, for all to see, how Sensei is doing. Is everyone doing a certain technique that way, or just you? Is it the way Sensei wants it done, or the way the senior students are pushing it?

Why not take the test? What is it that bothers you about it? Being in front of everyone and making a "mistake"? Don't you know that you will never find a more supportive group of people to get in front of and work on your "stage fright"? (if that is what it is).

Are you just a casual Aikidoist that wants to pick and choose what they learn? Or do you want the whole enchilada?

There are more reasons I am sure I am not listing, these just pop into my mind right now.

Maybe you are one of the few that does not need to test for any of these reasons. Let your Sensei decide, after all, your Sensei has seen a lot of Aikidoists and will be able to ascertain what you need better than someone that has only been praciticing a few months...

Good luck in you decision and training.

Peace.

Robert Jackson
04-28-2006, 02:40 PM
I'd like to hear thoughts on why so much emphasis seems to be placed on testing. I've been studying Aikido since the beginning of the year and proudly wear my white belt.

I'm been "invited" to test for 6th kyu next month. What is the big deal with formal testing? All my fellow students approached me after class congratulating me and what-not. It's like I've been bestowed some huge gift...

I'd personally be perfectly happy wearing a very dirty white belt for the next however many years it takes to acheive Shodan. Once acheiving Shodan, I'll tie my dogi with a black belt and confidently answer that I know very little about AIkido to any kyu ranked co-students.

So, I have 2 questions:

Can I respectfully request that I not take the test?

If I do have to take the test, can I respectfully request that I may continue to wear my white belt?

Thanks for your comments.

You're saying testing is not a big deal (agreed). Yet by requesting not to test you are in turn making it a big deal. The instructor has decided you are ready to test... so in part he has decided you have already passed the test....

Basically, from my expereince, no instructor will allow you to test unless they know you will pass it. All you're doing during the test is a demnostration of the skills you have already shown you understand.

Take the test even though it is not a big deal. Accept your new rank gracefully... thank your partners and instructors and progress that way you can make your shodan goal.

giriasis
04-28-2006, 03:07 PM
I second the above sentiment. Rank is something that should not be overemphasized or underemphasized. When balanced testing plays a role in establishing a measure to skill and acheivement and it also provides a motivation to train and increase one's skill level. Also, it is a way of the sensei saying that he believes that your skill has increased and he is telling you that you have accomplished a new level. Testing shows respect for that decision and it provides you the opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned.

MaryKaye
04-28-2006, 03:18 PM
Insisting on bucking your school's established convention for testing and belt color *is* making a big deal of it, in my opinion. It can easily send a message to your teachers "I think your way of running your school is stupid."

It's okay to say that if that is what you really mean. I wouldn't advise saying it if the real message is something else, like "I don't feel ready" or "I have stage fright" or "I'm disappointed that my fellow students are so obsessed with rank."

Mary Kaye

New Student
04-28-2006, 04:15 PM
Thank you all for the replies, I appreciate the time you spent to provide a comment.

Everything I read says that when you attain Shodan, you basically know enough to know that you don't know much. So, I don't see why there needs to be six ranks below the rank where you know that you know nothing.

My Sensei actually solidified my belief in a recent class. He commented to the effect that in Japan, new students spend the first year as an uke. Only after that time are they allowed to actually learn the techniques. He further commented that this style wouldn't work in America, where we all want instant gratification.

Again, thanks for your comments.

giriasis
04-28-2006, 04:35 PM
Thank you all for the replies, I appreciate the time you spent to provide a comment.

Everything I read says that when you attain Shodan, you basically know enough to know that you don't know much. So, I don't see why there needs to be six ranks below the rank where you know that you know nothing.[QUOTE]

Well, that doesn't mean you don't learn anything. I've trained for over 6.5 years now and am at the point where I'm really seeing that there is A LOT more to aikido than being able to do a specified technique. That is what I think your sensei means. It doesn't mean you will not learn anything as you might as well go to your local martial arts supply store and buy a black belt for $5.00.

[QUOTE]My Sensei actually solidified my belief in a recent class. He commented to the effect that in Japan, new students spend the first year as an uke. Only after that time are they allowed to actually learn the techniques. He further commented that this style wouldn't work in America, where we all want instant gratification.

Again, thanks for your comments.

I think your sensei is emphasizing the importance of learning good ukemi and not just standing techniques.

Michael O'Brien
04-28-2006, 04:47 PM
Thank you all for the replies, I appreciate the time you spent to provide a comment.

Everything I read says that when you attain Shodan, you basically know enough to know that you don't know much. So, I don't see why there needs to be six ranks below the rank where you know that you know nothing.

My Sensei actually solidified my belief in a recent class. He commented to the effect that in Japan, new students spend the first year as an uke. Only after that time are they allowed to actually learn the techniques. He further commented that this style wouldn't work in America, where we all want instant gratification.

Again, thanks for your comments.

There are many of us that hold the philosophy that once you reach Shodan that is the point where you "start to learn" per se. Not exactly the way I want to word it but I won't get into a whole typing out a long explanation here.

Regardless of your personal belief or the belief of your Sensei, your Sensei still requires those 6 tests to achieve Shodan so if that is your goal then these are the steps you must take to achieve that goal.

Also, remember Shodan should not be a "goal", because it is the rank where you have enough knowledge to truly begin to understand. So enjoy the journey, the entire journey, including the 6 kyu steps to get you to Shodan. Then enjoy the steps beyond that as well.

wmreed
04-28-2006, 10:22 PM
Everything I read says that when you attain Shodan, you basically know enough to know that you don't know much. So, I don't see why there needs to be six ranks below the rank where you know that you know nothing.

You seem to be a straightforward, speak-your-mind person, so while I know it's tactless, I'll be as straightforward as I can be: you need to read more, practice more, and trust your sensei more.

Testing in aikido serves many purposes. You can't understand them all as a beginner. Many people have mentioned many of them in this thread, so I won't repeat them. There are many other reasons to test, I believe, of which I'm still not aware.

The "shodan is where you realize you don't know anything" line means this to me: I have learned all the basic skills of aikido, and now it is my task to more fully understand and perfect them. Much in the same way that you learn the basic skills of writing and then write to perfect those skills. Just knowing the "rules" for composing an essay doesn't mean I am proficient at it.

Just testing on shihonage at 6th kyu doesn't mean that I have a master's level of proficiency.

So why test?

In addition to the many ideas already shared, here are some of mine:
1. To more clearly display to my sensei my understanding and skill in technique.
2. To show myself how well I maintain composure under a stressful setting.
3. To show students who are my juniors the level of proficiency to which they will be expected to rise.
4. To show students who are my seniors how well or poorly they have helped to prepare me. (This may have been mentioned already, but I couldn't find it on subsequent readings of the thread to be sure)
5. To maintain tradition.
6. Because it's a reasonable request, and it's polite to do as I'm asked by my teacher.

That being said, I find testing personally pointless. It's not why I practice aikido. I was at second kyu for several years, because I didn't ask to test, and nobody else really paid attention to my hours. Hreha Sensei was at the dojo for a seminar, watched me, looked at the rank board, shook his head and walked away. The next day he promoted me to 1st kyu without testing me.

I would likely have stayed there, too, except that it was pointed out to me that my children's class students needed to see that I was continuing my aikido education, and that for them, the easiest way to do that was for me to go forward and test for shodan.

I'm glad I did. I proved to myself that I could do it (yes I had doubts). It was one of the most mentally and physically challenging things I have done.

The shodan test is not "THE" test. It's one in a series that shows stages of progression. It's the one OF the series that tests on ALL the required techniques. Future tests will help me to evaluate my level of refinement.

And I'll take them when asked to. It's no big deal.

(Yikes. That's a lot longer than I set out to write.)

Michael Meister
04-29-2006, 02:31 AM
The level of proficiency is one aspect of rank. But it's also about knowing one's place. That's true for Aikido, and that's true for life. Moving up ranks, even with kyu grades, defines in a way your place in the dojo, and the responsibility coming with your rank.

Hanna B
04-29-2006, 04:13 AM
I have much sympathy for you feelings, anon. Testing and ranks are often much overemphasized. I was myself a difficult student who was reluctant to take grading tests, not taking grading tests even when the main teacher of the dojo told me I should. (In that dojo, tests are given a couple of times a year and you decide yourself if you want to try or not - the main teacher only pushed those he felt lagged behind in the ranking scale.)

Anyhow, in this weird little aikido world ranks and tests do exist. One has to adapt to one's environments, or life will be very difficult. Then of course is the question how much one needs to adapt.

Can I respectfully request that I not take the test?

If I do have to take the test, can I respectfully request that I may continue to wear my white belt?

You can ask not to test, of course. Then is the question how your teacher will respond to it. You can ask if it is OK to wear a white belt even if your rank in your dojo usually wears another colour. My guess is your teacher will tell you to join the line and do like everyone else, i.e. take the tests when he tells you to and wear the rank you have. There is a system to it, and people who do not follow the system is a disturbance. "A nail that sticks up, will be hammered down".

Probably not in your dojo (since your teacher tells students when they should test) but in some other places it happens that individuals stay on kyu rank forever simply because they do not want to test. Around here belts are either white or black, no colour, so they stay white belts forever. People who do the same thing often have their individual reasons that might be all different, but one aspect of it can be.. a kind of reverse snobbery, which is a kind of snobbery in itself. I remember looking down on people hurrying up the rank scale. Later I realised that if I could stay on a lower rank and not look down on those who tried to take as big chunks of the pie as they could, the way they saw fit - then my take on it would have been OK. I could not, and if staying on a lower rank made me despise people I should change. At this stage I went back to accepting to take the grading tests.

Mark Uttech
04-29-2006, 05:27 AM
Who doesn't want to resist any type of test? We human beings are funny in the way that we try to "get out of" anything that comes our way. We need to learn to receive things. That is why ukemi is such a great part of aikido. 100% comes with 50% times two.

Mark Uttech
04-29-2006, 05:30 AM
I remember reading that O Sensei was a white belt his whole life.

Josh Reyer
04-29-2006, 06:36 AM
My Sensei actually solidified my belief in a recent class. He commented to the effect that in Japan, new students spend the first year as an uke. Only after that time are they allowed to actually learn the techniques. He further commented that this style wouldn't work in America, where we all want instant gratification.


You're Sensei is wrong, incidently. There are no mainstream schools of aikido in Japan that follow that procedure. They are conducted very much like classes in America.

As for testing, well, why wear a white belt? Why wear a keikogi at all? Why not just wear sweats or other durable, comfortable wear?

A sixth kyu has the same essential meaning as a shodan: it means you have achieved a certain understanding of techniques, that you can execute them if asked, and that you are ready for more responsibility than a dojo. It means no more, and no less. Why are there kyu ranks below shodan? Because there are varying levels of skill below shodan. The ranks give the instructors a rough understanding of those levels of skill. They wouldn't be necessary in a small, private dojo with only a few students, but they are useful in large organized dojo.

I think Michael O'Brien said it best: don't think anything of it. Take the test, accept the rank, and move on.

Koren Ko
04-29-2006, 01:23 PM
Insisting on bucking your school's established convention for testing and belt color *is* making a big deal of it, in my opinion. It can easily send a message to your teachers "I think your way of running your school is stupid."

It's okay to say that if that is what you really mean. I wouldn't advise saying it if the real message is something else, like "I don't feel ready" or "I have stage fright" or "I'm disappointed that my fellow students are so obsessed with rank."

Mary Kaye

Err, just a thought in a $$ eyes way:
Test = Paying for it.

Although most of the trainees are too paying small amount to the dojo while learning aikido, whether they are white or colored as training fees.
Test may be just too much for him to pay for at the moment?

Err, another thought in "Too-much-Pie-make-Jack-sick-of-it" way.
Or may be he got sick of getting into exam after years of academic testing and being measured up by marks?

Getting a feel of being "tested on" could really have some upsetting feeling to people. Is this the case?

Err, yet another thought on test with daily life...
Although I agree on testing is just a way to see how much u had learned. But how can one test a person's capabilites and/or skills in various things and knows one is doing the thing correctly without any kind of indication/guide to help with?
i.e: 2 mechanics in compare, to fix a car and predict when it need a maintainence.
Or, 2 bakers, to see whose cake are the best...
Both can say they are predict/baking the precise/best of the world. And, there are no 1 grand master in their field can ultimately decide who are right. Also, any judge decision's undecisive as it may have different perspective yet 1minute/1hour/10days later.

So, now, do testing really a big deal? (Given its esclusive of your capabilty to live/survive in society)

I may not speak my mind out clearly as its just vague concept and quick thought. (Also, me no language/philosophy master or plainly "uneducated in expressing in english"? :P)

Please correct my words if you get what I try to express. :blush:

ruthmc
04-29-2006, 01:51 PM
Testing up to Shodan means that you have learned how to do X number of techniques up to Y level of proficiency. After Shodan, you begin to study the Aikido behind those techniques.

This is why it is said that Shodan is the "first step".

So go learn the techniques, test through the kyu ranks, then start learning Aikido :)

Nobody ever said this would be quick or easy :D

Ruth

Koren Ko
04-29-2006, 02:26 PM
Testing up to Shodan means that you have learned how to do X number of techniques up to Y level of proficiency. After Shodan, you begin to study the Aikido behind those techniques.

This is why it is said that Shodan is the "first step".

So go learn the techniques, test through the kyu ranks, then start learning Aikido :)

Nobody ever said this would be quick or easy :D

Ruth

Well, will there be a efficient learning system that exist to help you end the kyu and basic techinique and start aikido sooner? :D

Life is indeed a waving sea for non-office worker. ;)
Gonna learn fast enough before time quota runs out for this or force to stop to carry on other issues. :confused:

Qatana
04-29-2006, 02:35 PM
There IS an efficient learning system. It consists of working at your own level and cultivating Patience.

Chris Li
04-29-2006, 04:49 PM
My Sensei actually solidified my belief in a recent class. He commented to the effect that in Japan, new students spend the first year as an uke. Only after that time are they allowed to actually learn the techniques. He further commented that this style wouldn't work in America, where we all want instant gratification.

Again, thanks for your comments.

Never saw that in any dojo that I ever trained at in Japan - training there was more or less exactly as it is in the United States (except that everybody spoke better Japanese :) ).

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
04-29-2006, 04:50 PM
I have never seen anybody that doesn't want to achieve a new rank... I mean, why do you want to wear your white belt even if you are a yellow, or whatever?

I have, plenty of times, and not just in the kyu ranks - I've trained with people who trained for over thirty years before someone made them take a promotion.

Best,

Chris

RebeccaM
04-29-2006, 09:18 PM
My boyfriend has been a fifth kyu for something like 18 years. This is longer than I have been doing aikido. This is longer than a lot of people have been doing aikido. He never got around to testing for a variety of reasons that range from deeply philosophical to outright silly. In our dojo everyone fourth kyu and up wears a hakama, and so he routinely sandbags people who're new. He had me completely confused at first - I knew he wasn't a beginner as soon as he attacked me, but it took me a while to get my head around the fact that no, he was not a visitor, he'd actually been living and training in Boulder for three or four years before we met! He knows a lot of techniques. He does good aikido. However, there's been one drawback in his apporach, and that is his knowledge is spotty. Testing forces you to work on things you might otherwise not work on, either due to lack of interest or they techniques just don't come up in classes very often. Therefore, when preparing for a test, you're forced out of your bubble and must learn the things you lack the discipline and/or oppurtunity to learn otherwise. Testing is also a chance to see how you cope with pressure. Granted, it's not the kind of pressure you'd find yourself under in a street situation, but the pressure to perform is something you're more liely to encounter anyways. So you sort of cheat yourself by not testing. This is true for everything, not just aikido.

I say all this and yet I too am wondering what the point of testing is. :/

New Student
04-29-2006, 10:06 PM
Thanks again to new posters and repeat viewers/commenters. I do appreciate the feedback.

The general consensus is that I should "buck up", and follow the wishes of my Sensei/dojo. In the spirit of harmony, I guess that is what I should do.

It does (and will continue) to pain me that Aikido, or at least my brief experience with it, is so much like life in general...everyone seems to need/want some measure of where they stand in life. I deal with people who have more letters after their names (MBA, PhD, J.D., VP, Sr. Mgr) than I have in my whole name, and act like these letters somehow make them better than all the rest of us. I had hoped that Aikido, and my study of it, would be the one release/escape from this materialistic need for self-worth.

Hopefully, somewhere along the path, I'll find what I need to help accept it all.

Please accept my humble best wishes for all your future endeavors.

Josh Reyer
04-29-2006, 11:33 PM
New Student, it seems to me like you're confusing rank with testing. Testing is important, for yourself and your instructors. Rank, not so much (ideally).

Hanna B
04-30-2006, 01:59 AM
It does (and will continue) to pain me that Aikido, or at least my brief experience with it, is so much like life in general...
Since the people in aikido are just like other people in all aspects except they like to roll around on mats and twisting each other's wrists wearing white pyjamas, this is to be expected.

raul rodrigo
04-30-2006, 05:11 AM
It does (and will continue) to pain me that Aikido, or at least my brief experience with it, is so much like life in general....

And why shouldn't it be? Is simply practicing aikido a sign of some kind of moral superiority? That our values are more advanced than other people's? Sorry to be blunt, but it is you who is making a big deal about testing. And it seems to me to be vanity in reverse, that somehow you're trying to be above it all. And maybe you are, or maybe you're not. But taking or not taking a test, or passing or not passing a kyu or dan test has very little to say about one's moral standing. You can be a terrific aikidoka and a miserable human being. Or the other way around.

Adam Alexander
05-01-2006, 12:23 PM
I'm been "invited" to test for 6th kyu next month. What is the big deal with formal testing?

I'd personally be perfectly happy wearing a very dirty white belt for the next however many years it takes to acheive Shodan. Once acheiving Shodan, I'll tie my dogi with a black belt and confidently answer that I know very little about AIkido to any kyu ranked co-students.

So, I have 2 questions:

Can I respectfully request that I not take the test?

If I do have to take the test, can I respectfully request that I may continue to wear my white belt?

I liked Rebecca Montange response the best. However, there's a couple points I'd like to add.

I don't know the why's of testing importance, but since that's what my organization does, it must be important. (It's taken me a few years to figure out that gem.)

I've been an anti-tester for YEARS now. I thought it all started because I developed the romantic notion of a belt that's black with dirt that I read about and some seniors talked about. I also thought I was not testing because it was a challenge to an Aikidoka's ego.

However, the truth is that the first couple years, I really wanted to test. I wanted to instruct and I wanted the ego-gratification that the next belt provided.

For me, there was a few things that happened. First, I was caught during a transitionary time in my dojo. A total friggin' moron who's advice I was supposed to rely on gave me bad direction that resulted in me not testing for a very long time. As a result, people could walk in off the street and be my rank in a matter of months while I had been training for a couple years. So, I became an anti-tester because I resent the system that allowed that jack-*ss to misguide me.

Second, the same jack-*ss and another guy who was equally senior talked about that "white belt turned black with dirt" stuff. Well, between them and all the reading I did, I fell for it. While waiting for my last test results I was worrying about whether or not I passed, so I built up a fine shelter for my ego--not only did I no longer want a different color belt, I no longer cared if I passed because "I know what technqiues I know and no belt is going to give me anything more than that." Sort of like "age is just a number" or "it's not how old you are, it's how old you feel." Well, let me tell you, both perspectives are loaded with it that I suspect have everything to do with protecting the ego from reality.

Third, the last time I considered testing within this organization, no-one at my level had technique that I thought was pretty enough to test with. Arrogance...anti-testing.

But why? Because my peers had all passed me long ago.

Fourth, I'm one of the biggest *ssholes you could hope to meet. Not that I'm unpleasant to be around (LOL. Actually, I think I'm generally pleasant), but I literally believe I know nearly everything...Including Aikido. (This is hilarious. I never realized how bad it was/is till now.) I don't want to practice escapes because "I KNOW" the reason escapes are taught and don't want to "waste my time" practing techniques that way.

Maybe I do know most of it, maybe I don't. I'm betting on the latter. Sure, I know some significant stuff about technique. However, being on the outside looking in, I think one of the things that makes Aikido a long-enduring and pleasant experience is doing it with others. I let my at-one-time-peers pass me by. To help shield the jealousy, there's arrogance: anti-testing.

I don't know. I kind of went off here. I guess the point is that you can do what you want--if you look, there will be a lesson in it for you whichever route you take. Seeings that you seem to suffer the same arrogance as me, I figured I could offer a better piece of advice (see, I'm arrogant:) ). Here it is: Be honest with yourself and think about following your Sensei.

Ask what you're looking for out of Aikido. For me, I was looking "to be bad." Well, I'm not worried about anybody taking me anymore. I've tested it a few times.

However, I found that there was a lot more Aikido had to offer me. I got a taste of it, but because I'm wrapped up in arrogance and resentment, I'll not receive the rest of it.

F' it. That's life.

Lyle Bogin
05-01-2006, 01:44 PM
If testing isn't a big deal, why avoid it?

kaishaku
05-01-2006, 01:50 PM
It's much better to have a positive, enthusiastic attitude about it.

Ron Tisdale
05-01-2006, 02:00 PM
Jean,

That was an excellent post.

Regards,
Ron

Adam Alexander
05-01-2006, 04:06 PM
Jean,

That was an excellent post.

Regards,
Ron

Yeah, thanks. I guess a blind squirrel gets one once in a while. LOL. Too bad that I've irrevocably lost opportunities that people would kill for. Goodness, if I understood those things then that I do now...or did you just mean that it was good that I recognized that I was an a**?:)

HooverGurl
05-01-2006, 10:09 PM
Personally, i dont see what the issue is here. I mean, I dont mind testing. I'm one of those people who have to try and train really hard in order to understand the basics of a technique. My sister is not. She's surpassed me in every rank since we started. Thats life. Aikido comes easier to her than it does to me. Tests, to me, are a way to prove to myself that i have improved. Its my way of showing that yes, hard work and dedication can pay off.

Last spring I took two months off of training b/c school had me bogged down. So, in reality, I ended up missing abt three and a half months throughout the spring semester. When the summer came, I ended up taking four classes a week instead of two. It was exhausting. I was sore. I had to work really hard. But it paid off. I tested and got my new, very pretty, blue belt. And to me that was an accomplishment b/c I didnt really think i could do it.

To sum up this rather long post, tests are a way of growing and improving. Yeah, they're scary and it takes a lot of hard work to prepare. But with each passing day, we grow and learn. And that's whats most important to me.

Mark Uttech
05-01-2006, 10:33 PM
Testing is par for the course, like high school graduation. Any moron can graduate from high school.

Ron Tisdale
05-02-2006, 07:17 AM
Yeah, thanks. I guess a blind squirrel gets one once in a while. LOL. Too bad that I've irrevocably lost opportunities that people would kill for. Goodness, if I understood those things then that I do now...or did you just mean that it was good that I recognized that I was an a**?:)

Oh no, certainly not the latter.... ;) I really like the posts where someone looks as honestly at themselves as possible. It's a real challenge to do that, and I respect it when I think I see it.

Best,
Ron (working on my own self honestly, but poorly)

Steve Mullen
05-02-2006, 09:48 AM
This is on the website of the organisation i belong to, its Shihan Cottier's views on grading

http://www.whiteroseaikido.com/kencottier.shtml

when you have done reading that have a look around on the site, the video section has got some very good stuff in it, and a few clips of Shihan Cotteir teaching on a course i was lucky enough to train on.

Adam Alexander
05-02-2006, 12:14 PM
Oh no, certainly not the latter.... ;) I really like the posts where someone looks as honestly at themselves as possible. It's a real challenge to do that, and I respect it when I think I see it.

Best,
Ron (working on my own self honestly, but poorly)

Yeah, I've read a few that made me nod my head and think "very nice." Thanks for the compliment.

I found this

http://www.aikiweb.com/testing/rock5.html

Go figure, I could of looked under the "Testing" articles and received the wisdom without the work.

Mark Uttech
05-04-2006, 07:27 AM
everyone knows that someone who says they are "humbly this, or humbly that", or even humble at all is a liar.

MaryKaye
05-04-2006, 01:10 PM
My determination to continue aikido--which had been getting pretty shaky due to the amount of trouble I had learning to forward roll--was solidified once and for all by the first testing seminar I attended. I got to see the whole series from my blundering rankmates and me, up through the amazing abilities of the ikkyu candidate. I also got to see the ikkyu candidate screw up repeatedly (we are still teasing him about that test to this day, though he is now shodan) and that was important to me too--it said to me "These people aren't perfect, maybe I can do this too."

I don't know if all of those other students, some of whom may have been reluctant to test, had any idea how important they were to the nervous fifth-kyu candidate in the back of the room. But they were a huge part of how I found the drive and enthusiasm to continue with aikido. After that testing seminar I finally tackled the thorny problem of training more than twice a week without driving my husband and myself mad, and also the equally thorny problem of actually learning the Japanese technique names.

So, it's not just about the person being tested. It's also important to the rest of the community. Each of those students who nerved him or herself into getting up there and demonstrating was giving me a gift which I appreciate very much.

(I would say, "And I strive to do the same" but it would be a lie, because actually I love testing. I'm a ham....)

Mary Kaye

New Student
05-04-2006, 03:36 PM
Mark,

Sorry that you think I'm a liar. Here's a definition of humble:

A humble person is generally thought to be unpretentious and modest: someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others

Coincidentally, that is the jist of my whole initial question. Clearly, we now know your opinion.

Good Luck

Mark Uttech
05-04-2006, 04:21 PM
Thanks.

RebeccaM
05-04-2006, 05:21 PM
If you refuse to wear a colored belt in a dojo where color belts are worn, you are not being humble.

raul rodrigo
05-04-2006, 07:11 PM
When a shodan or nidan says that there's no big deal about testing, they've earned the right. When a no-kyu "humble person" says the same, I tend to be skeptical and sense some false humility in the air. Pass the tests, learn the techniques, and then we can talk fruitfully about how you're now "past all that" or above all that. A test is like the ladder that Wittgenstein spoke of in Tractatus: you need it to get over a wall, but once you're over the wall, you throw the ladder away. But first get over the wall.

aikigirl10
05-04-2006, 07:20 PM
I'd like to hear thoughts on why so much emphasis seems to be placed on testing. I've been studying Aikido since the beginning of the year and proudly wear my white belt.

I'm been "invited" to test for 6th kyu next month. What is the big deal with formal testing? All my fellow students approached me after class congratulating me and what-not. It's like I've been bestowed some huge gift...

I'd personally be perfectly happy wearing a very dirty white belt for the next however many years it takes to acheive Shodan. Once acheiving Shodan, I'll tie my dogi with a black belt and confidently answer that I know very little about AIkido to any kyu ranked co-students.

So, I have 2 questions:

Can I respectfully request that I not take the test?

If I do have to take the test, can I respectfully request that I may continue to wear my white belt?

Thanks for your comments.

I'm just gonna say one thing so as not to start any arguments.

"Those who make themselves great will be humbled. Those who humble themselves will be made great."

^^ I just absolutely love that saying.

It seems like you're headed in the right direction, but be wary, this sort of behavior can be seen in other ways too. Just talk it over with your sensei.

*Paige*

krammer
05-04-2006, 08:28 PM
I understand how you feel about being a white belt forever, I feel if you want attention I'll spare a little time and express my thought. I think you should keep the white or better yet pass it on to whom who is interested in Aikido and you move on the on-line with Aikido!!

Aristeia
05-04-2006, 08:56 PM
Excellent post from Jean. To be commended.

Adam Alexander
05-06-2006, 12:51 PM
Excellent post from Jean. To be commended.

I heard a story about a guy who was studying patience. He went off to a cave to meditate or something. A fellow came along, asked what the first was doing. The first explained he was being patient or whatever. While leaving, the second yells back something to the fact of "you're a such-n-such" the patient guy reflexively yells "go to hell."

thanks for the compliment.

Steve Mullen
05-09-2006, 06:11 AM
I have never really sat back and thought about gradings per say, they have just been something that has come up every now and again, i have dug in, trained harder and (thus far) passed, i have also enjoyed the whole experience, from the almost killing myself training to the anxious wait to finding out i had passed and the celebrations afterwards.

Recently however, from September last year, i was meant to go in for my 2nd Kyu, i was very much looking forward to the usual, preparing myself mentally and physically reading the syllabus etc. However, i got the chance of a job that i simply couldn't turn down, but it meant living away from home (and thus my Dojo) for two months. I asked around and tried to find a dojo near where i was staying, and found one, but a mixture of work and (if im honest apathy) meant i didn't go to it. So after two months out i started trying to get back into my training and hoped to grade.

However, this job lead to one closer to where i lived which meant that i couldn't train as much as i would have liked to, which meant i couldn't grade again. And i realised that i was getting frustrated at not grading. This came as a bit of a shock to me as, like i mentioned above, gradings to me, were just something that happened.

So I'm back in Wales again on business and I have had free time (in airports/trainstations etc) to sit and think why i was frustrated at not grading. I have heard many people say that grading is not important, they don't want to grade etc, i didn't think that "climbing the ladder" was all that important, i was training and enjoying it. But then i realised that in a roundabout way i was.

When on a big course in our organisation Sensei Riley often splits the group into Hakama wearers and non-Hakama wearers (in our org you get hakama at 1st Kyu) He does this to manage the numbers better, and to be able to teach the advanced students more advanced/powerful etc technique. The problem is that i love training with the higher grades, and want to take this advanced instruction off my sensei, so i do want to get to that point, i do want to 'climb the ladder'

So to me the big deal with testing, at least for now, is that it gives me the chance to know that im always going to be able to get that advanced tuition. I think it also gives back something to the organisation. If they have high grades on the mat who can impart wisdom or technique to the newer students it benefits the group as a whole, testing is a way to give something back for the teaching you have received

Well, that's my journey of self discovery over for now.

So

Mark Freeman
05-09-2006, 07:00 AM
Steve,

Your time will come, relax and enjoy where you are at the moment.
To a 5th Kyu you are a higher grade, they want to practice with you, so that you can impart what you know to them.
We all look to those who have gone before to gain more from them.
Sometimes there is more to be gained by giving to those wo follow.
I found that I only really understood an exercise when I tried to teach the principles to a beginner.

Life happens, gradings come and go, at the end of it all it's not what colour belt you have in the casket, it's how well you lived.

just a few thoughts,

regards
Mark

emma.mason15
05-22-2006, 08:54 PM
Steve,

Your time will come, relax and enjoy where you are at the moment.
To a 5th Kyu you are a higher grade, they want to practice with you, so that you can impart what you know to them.
We all look to those who have gone before to gain more from them.
Sometimes there is more to be gained by giving to those wo follow.
I found that I only really understood an exercise when I tried to teach the principles to a beginner.

Life happens, gradings come and go, at the end of it all it's not what colour belt you have in the casket, it's how well you lived.

just a few thoughts,

regards
Mark
totally ... training with higher grades rocks .....
right up until they hurt you! lmao