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senshincenter
06-21-2008, 02:54 PM
Is it just me - probably is - but the formality here, or something, just seems so alien (to me).

What do you all think?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWcDjAsO_D4

Don
06-21-2008, 10:09 PM
Looks normal to me. Did my nidan test in much the same way.

Janet Rosen
06-22-2008, 01:20 AM
Looks pretty normal to me.

justin
06-22-2008, 07:04 AM
no pressure then ! thats one big grading committee

Jonathan
06-22-2008, 05:08 PM
I don't have any particular sense that there is a greater formality to this test than others. I do think the size of the grading committee is ridiculous, however. Does it really require, what, a dozen or so people to properly examine this guy? I don't think so. Why, then, are there so many people on the committee? Way too many "chiefs," if you ask me.

Angela Dunn
06-22-2008, 06:42 PM
the formalities such as the bowing is what we do and the the name called out and you do it is the same.

The most I have ever seen judging the grading is two and they tend to write notes to.

That amount of people judging me would just make me go to bits in a formal grading like that!

senshincenter
06-22-2008, 10:53 PM
I guess I was not referring to the etiquette, as much as to the size and sense of the panel. Why so many folks? It's not for grading. Must be for some other reason - one I don't get.

Michael Hackett
06-23-2008, 12:38 AM
What seemed strange to me was the panel was all dressed in street clothing. All I've ever seen before was a test committee attired in keikogi.

Dieter Haffner
06-23-2008, 01:53 AM
What seemed strange to me was the panel was all dressed in street clothing. All I've ever seen before was a test committee attired in keikogi.I have seen exams from Sugano and Tamura sensei. And they both were dressed in street cloths. Sugano sensei was even wairing jeans and a leather jacket. I guess they to shower after a 3 hour seminar.

Jory Boling
06-23-2008, 06:15 AM
our tests usually have a panel of 6 to 8, all taking notes. but they're all wearing keikogi, as immediately before the test we have training. but then it's usually group testing. not just one guy. and since i've never seen a dan test maybe i should bow out now!

ChrisHein
06-23-2008, 12:20 PM
A bunch of people in suits grading me, it's just not right. This is a part of martial arts I just don't like. A teacher and a student, that's all that's needed.

Of coarse without a panel of examiners in spiffy suits, you can't get the really super sweet certificate that gives you the magic powers...

Pauliina Lievonen
06-23-2008, 12:53 PM
I've been to a couple dan tests where all the yudansha present were asked to sit around the mat during the test and to join the teachers (two or three of them) who formed the actual testing panel for discussion afterwards. The senior teachers did most of the talking, but also asked for peoples impressions. As a very junior dan grade I didn't have much more to contribute than to nod in agreement but it was a valuable learning experience to hear the discussion.

We were all in keikogi&hakama though. :)
kvaak
Pauliina

aikidoc
06-24-2008, 08:41 AM
THe suits bother me-they should be in keiko gis. There was far too much chit chat by the test committee and it appeared at times disinterest in the testing action. I agree the number on the committee seemed excessive.

Peter Goldsbury
06-24-2008, 09:29 AM
Well, you might want to consider the country where the grading is taking place. Unless I am completely wrong, the country is France, which has two parallel grading systems. One is for national grades, awarded by the French government; the other is for grades awarded by the Aikikai Hombu. It might well be that the actual test is the same, but it is clear that the Aikikai dan rank is an optional extra. It is the national grade, examined according to a method approved by the government, that determines whether you can teach in a municipal sports centre, for example.

The grading panel seems quite large but I would prefer to have more information before rushing to judgment.

John Ruhl
06-24-2008, 10:19 AM
Not about formality, but about the test... I watched only the first half of the video. The whole time I couldn't stop wondering what was going on with uke's other hand; ie, when attacking with the right, the left hand was dead and huge openings seemed to be there for popping nage.

So, I have two questions:

1. when huge openings are present in dan tests, do folks always ignore them out of courtesy for the person testing? After all, presumably the testing panel notices.

2. what was it about nage's movement/action/technique that was leaving those openings there? (Or, am I off base? I don't mean to be overly critical of the person testing... I'd just like to learn something from it.)

thanks,
John

ChrisHein
06-24-2008, 10:49 AM
Governmentally sanctioned testing, now that does sound important!!

I'm sure glad that someone in the French (or any other country's government) has something to say about martial arts...

Garth Jones
06-24-2008, 12:31 PM
John - as Goldsbury Sensei noted, we don't know the circumstances of the test. To me, it looks like the person testing was expected to to show crisp execution of basic technique at a moderate speed. At least, that's what he was doing. If so, then his ukes were being completely appropriate and providing clean attacks with no 'ego' present. Each attack and technique was called, there was no freestyle.

In some dojos/systems, that is what is expected on exams. In others, there is more freestyle asked by the examiner and, perhaps, more freedom for uke to exploit openings and/or look for reversals.

Cheers,
Garth

PS I see that you are just up the road in Cleveland. If you haven't seen Jim Klar attack anybody with a tanto during a yudansha test, ask him to attack you. Very powerful and honest. Be ready to move off the line quickly!

John Ruhl
06-24-2008, 01:16 PM
If you haven't seen Jim Klar attack anybody with a tanto during a yudansha test, ask him to attack you. Very powerful and honest. Be ready to move off the line quickly!

Garth -

I haven't seen Jim sensei attack during a yudansha test; I'll ask him to attack someone else so I can watch closely. :)

Thanks for your explanation of what the assumptions might be in the test video; they seem reasonable, and would explain why uke is leaving that second arm dead. I still am a bit surprised at the openings, though... shouldn't crisp, medium speed good technique still have you positioned such that those aren't there? I'm wondering whether it's an issue of nage's position, or of nage not really taking uke's center and "deposturing" uke so the opening wasn't viable... or something else.

thanks,
- John

AsimHanif
06-24-2008, 02:25 PM
Hi John,
I've noticed this trend lately myself. I'm seeing it with yudansha of varying levels. I've noticed two different things:
1- a dead free hand, or
2- the non attacking hand clutching the obi as if uke were holding a scabbard (on either side). The yudansha I've noticed this more with follow a certain Shihan. The thing is, when I've seen this Shihan he definitely does not attack in that manner although he does sometimes walk in this manner.

I'm sure I don't understand what is going on or what the intention is...especially in the second case.
I'm hoping someone could shed some light on this as well.

Asim

Garth Jones
06-24-2008, 02:26 PM
John,

Sure, a live off arm is best - the punch should always be ready, even if it isn't delivered. And yes, regardless of speed, body position, connection, posture, etc. should always be as good as possible.

I didn't watch enough of the video to really comment on how open nage was - and besides, I think it's a little hard to tell some of that from a video anyway. If I could take ukemi for him, I could give you a much more informed opinion.

With Jim, Pat, and the others in Cleveland you are in good hands as you go along towards shodan. They will spot your openings and help you correct them.

And by the way, you can ask to see Jim attack somebody else, but don't be surprised if he just laughs and attacks you too!

senshincenter
06-25-2008, 11:56 AM
Well, I would suggest this is not a thread on the performance of the test-taker and/or any trend he may or may not represent.

I was wondering how folks felt about an apparent loss of "intimacy" that was at one time, or that at least could be, present between a practitioner, his/her art, his/her mentor, and the personal experience of progress.

Is there anything missing, anything of value, when we go from a place where one's progress (or lack of progress) was as obvious to the mentor as it was to everyone, such that little had to be said or done to mark it, TO being judged by 12 people all dressed the same in a gym of industrial design. I personally feel something great, many great things, are missing when we learn to do without the intimacy between mentor and apprentice that should be present (whenever one is training the spirit, in an art, etc.).

I remember back when I used to attend tests, etc., and there was always that "mandatory" phrase that testing board members had to say: "I really enjoyed your test..." Just once, I wanted to hear someone say, "Man, I hated watching you..." Not so much to hear some possible honesty, but just to know that folks present were alive, not robotic. I hoped for something different, a change of pace, the way you look for something to move to know it is still living when it's just lying there and looking like its life has departed.

AsimHanif
06-25-2008, 01:25 PM
You're right. Sorry about that David. Didn't mean to go off track....
although I'm still hoping for some insight there.

As far as the testing environment in the video...would I like it? Probably not because its so unlike the aikido culture I'm a part of (and that I enjoy).
It would be difficult for me to comment on 'what may or may not be missing' since I have no insight into what has transpired in the day to day training of those testing, which I think is far more important that what may be a formality.
I do know that within the USAF (especially recently)- in some cases people testing at the yudansha level have been told their tests were not acceptable.

Asim

Garth Jones
06-25-2008, 03:44 PM
David - sorry about the thread drift. I don't think that a short video of a person doing aikido suggests any kind of trend or even really shows what that person's aikido is like in general.

Back to the point of the thread - I tested shodan in front of a board of three senior folks. They were not from my dojo, but I knew them all well, and had taken classes with them over many years. The next two tests were in front of Ikeda Sensei. In all cases everybody was polite, but I got definite comments each time about things they liked as well as problem areas. To me the whole point of preparing for and taking rank tests is to gain a clearer idea of the road forward. That process must of necessity involve my teachers and sempai.

I would find testing in front of a board of seated, suited people like that very off putting. I agree that the spirit of teacher/student is valuable and pretty much absent from that setting. I would do it if there was some compelling reason (can't teach without it, etc.) but it would not seem special. The gym itself doesn't bother me - I've spent many years training in university dojos, which are generally quite industrial looking. If my teacher is there, and there is a connection, then everything is fine.

Cheers,
Garth

mickeygelum
06-25-2008, 04:38 PM
Greetings All,

We screen our candidates prior to actual grading. Those that do not meet minimum standards established by JAA, are not permitted to grade. Those that are allowed to grade, are graded by at least three yudansha, two grades their superior, and not their instructor.

One other thing, public humiliation for an unsatisfactory performance is unacceptable. Specific, constructive input is given and the chance to better themselves is afforded. Then, after a discussion with their instructor, they are allowed to retest at a later date.

On the job we have a saying, " Those that can...do, those that can't...teach, and those that can do and teach...are out there doing both! "

Train well,

Mickey

Jonathan
06-26-2008, 10:02 AM
I am very much opposed to the idea that a student finds out when they test if they are good enough to pass. By that I mean, a student should be testing because they are well able to test, not because they are only just able to do so.

I read an article some time ago where a very senior judo teacher (in Japan, if I remember correctly) was talking about how he tested students to new ranks. In particular I remember his comments about how a test ought to increase confidence and thus increase ability. He remarked that, if the test was done at the right time in the right way, a student who beforehand had never been able to defeat certain other students would suddenly be doing so regularly, not because his skill had improved, but because his confidence in his skill and his belief, born of his test, that he could win gave him the impetus to do so. I thoroughly agree that boosting confidence should be a major goal in the testing of any student. Any test that diminishes a student's confidence and that requires the student test again for the same rank ought not to have happened in the first place. For such an unfortunate occurrence, the fault should lie primarily with the teacher, not the student, however.

Ron Tisdale
06-26-2008, 10:54 AM
Any test that diminishes a student's confidence and that requires the student test again for the same rank ought not to have happened in the first place.

Hi, I'm sorry, but I disagree with this statement. Perhaps I could agree with some minor changes though...

I have been in a situation where I failed a test, and, rather than diminishing my confidence, it inspired me to spend every available night, and saturday, doing as much keiko as my body could stand. Rather than being discouraged, I was motivated to train, train, and train some more, for the month and a half or so between my failure and the re-test.

I was offered to wait until my direct instructor thought I was ready, and then just get the rank without the test. But I thought so highly of the testing instructor, that to me it would be an honor to re-take the test in front of him. And by doing so, live up to his expectation of me and what he had taught.

I would not give up that experience now, looking back on it. I do know some others, however, who did not take that approach, and I believe they suffered for it (just my opinion).

So I guess it is both up to the teachers and the students. The teachers to set and exemplify a high standard, and the students to seek to meet the bar. And if the bar is not met, to not lose confidence, but rather, to be encouraged, to do more keiko, to do more instruction, and to meet that bar.

Best,
Ron (there was no public humiliation involved in this process in any way)

mickeygelum
06-26-2008, 01:01 PM
Any test that diminishes a student's confidence and that requires the student test again for the same rank ought not to have happened in the first place. For such an unfortunate occurrence, the fault should lie primarily with the teacher, not the student, however.

Jonathan Hay
Mr Hay...I believe that you are just restating what I have already said. Thus, the prescreen by the grading board. I will add this, Shodans and Nidans up for grading have passed the prescreening and failed the actual grading. Our gradings are performance based, principle and technique, consistency and no "uke-do".

I have been in a situation where I failed a test, and, rather than diminishing my confidence, it inspired me to spend every available night, and saturday, doing as much keiko as my body could stand. Rather than being discouraged, I was motivated to train, train, and train some more, for the month and a half or so between my failure and the re-test.

Ron Tisdale

Mr. Tisdale...Says great things about your character...:ki:

Mickey

Jonathan
06-26-2008, 01:46 PM
Mr Hay...I believe that you are just restating what I have already said.

No, just stating my point of view, which happens to agree more or less with yours.

Ron, I had a similar experience to yours. I wasn't failed, but I had the distinct impression from the shihan that I should have done much better. Like you, I determined never to repeat such a performance -- and never have.

While I can appreciate the value of your negative testing experience, I would much rather my students benefited from being tested in the way I've described. Personally, I don't believe I've done my job as an instructor if one of my students fails a test (which, to date, has never even come close to happening). If a student of mine wants their next rank, they must go through me to get it. They will have to train before their test like you trained after your failed one in order to be put forward for testing. If they can satisfy me, they will satisfy our shihan. This saves Kawahara sensei the embarrassment of failing a student, it saves the student the embarrassment of failing, and it saves me the shame of causing so much embarrassment to both shihan and student.

Best to you, too.

NagaBaba
06-26-2008, 09:30 PM
I think it is a test in Belgium not in France. Ppl in Belgium have developed love for administration and looks like they have a lot of administrators in aikido LOL .Can you believe, this is very small country with 8 milion ppl, but they have 3 separated governments, each one with more then 20 Ministry!

I agree with David, this is large exaggeration. May be these folks think that being member of testing board give them special nobility? :) I don't think that in reality there is a need for more then 3 board members.Even if you have two large federations like in France.

eyrie
06-26-2008, 10:52 PM
I have been in a situation where I failed a test, and, rather than diminishing my confidence, it inspired me to spend every available night, and saturday, doing as much keiko as my body could stand. Rather than being discouraged, I was motivated to train, train, and train some more, for the month and a half or so between my failure and the re-test.

Mr. Tisdale...Says great things about your character... Nah, Ron just needed a "little prodding"... :D

Dieter Haffner
06-27-2008, 02:30 AM
Can you believe, this is very small country with 8 milion ppl, but they have 3 separated governments, each one with more then 20 Ministry!
Can you believe, this is very small country with 10,5 milion ppl, but they have 6 separated governments (to complicated to explain), with a total of 58 mandators.

It is painfull to admit this.
But at least I could correct the "unpronouncable one".
Not many of us can say that. :p

Ron Tisdale
06-27-2008, 08:33 AM
Ron, I had a similar experience to yours. I wasn't failed, but I had the distinct impression from the shihan that I should have done much better. Like you, I determined never to repeat such a performance -- and never have.

Well, in my case, I wasn't so much concerned about *never* repeating the experience. I was concerned about living up to my instructors expectations of me. He made it clear that my test wasn't a failure in his eyes...but simply that he expected more of *me*. His respect of me and what he thought I could do was my motivator. To me, that is an important distinction that I should have expressed more clearly before.

While I can appreciate the value of your negative testing experience,

Well, to me the whole experience was quite positive. Because of what I said above.

I would much rather my students benefited from being tested in the way I've described. Personally, I don't believe I've done my job as an instructor if one of my students fails a test (which, to date, has never even come close to happening).

I'm not sure of my (then) direct instructor's take on all this, I had Father's day dinner with him and our families...we talked about many things, but not this. I think I'll ask him about it though...I'm glad the topic came up, it is sometimes interesting to review past events briefly. I *think* though, that he was not embarrased at all by my failure...I think he has pretty much the same mindset as I do in this regard. I say that because **he** had failed an exam himself under this same 7th Dan. ;)

If a student of mine wants their next rank, they must go through me to get it. They will have to train before their test like you trained after your failed one in order to be put forward for testing.

At that time, I WAS training an average of 5 days a week...sometimes six. Believe me, it wasn't like I hadn't been training a LOT before the test.

If they can satisfy me, they will satisfy our shihan. This saves Kawahara sensei the embarrassment of failing a student, it saves the student the embarrassment of failing, and it saves me the shame of causing so much embarrassment to both shihan and student.

I guess embarrasment avoidance is just pretty low down the hierarchy of needs for me when it comes to testing. I think because I tend to embarrass myself so much in daily life! :D

Best,
Ron (I'm a lousy test taker in any case; I don't like doing demonstrations either)

Ron Tisdale
06-27-2008, 08:36 AM
Mr. Tisdale...Says great things about your character...:ki:

Mickey

Ha! What character?! ;)

I am a character, all right... :D Thanks for the kind words.

Best,
Ron

Jonathan
06-27-2008, 10:22 AM
Well, in my case, I wasn't so much concerned about *never* repeating the experience. I was concerned about living up to my instructors expectations of me. He made it clear that my test wasn't a failure in his eyes...but simply that he expected more of *me*. His respect of me and what he thought I could do was my motivator. To me, that is an important distinction that I should have expressed more clearly before.

I was concerned about not repeating my poor performance for more or less the same reasons you've expressed above (except it was the respect of my shihan and not my teacher I was wishing to retain).

Well, to me the whole experience was quite positive. Because of what I said above.

Yup. I got that. I refer to it as a "negative experience" insofar as you did not meet the expectations of your teacher and did not initially pass the test. I understand that in the final analysis the experience as a whole was a good one.

At that time, I WAS training an average of 5 days a week...sometimes six. Believe me, it wasn't like I hadn't been training a LOT before the test.

So, what happened, then? Did you sorta' choke, or what? How did you come to be testing? Was this your decision or your teacher's?

I guess embarrassment avoidance is just pretty low down the hierarchy of needs for me when it comes to testing. I think because I tend to embarrass myself so much in daily life!

Ah. I see. :D

Take 'er easy!:)

Ron Tisdale
06-27-2008, 10:57 AM
At that time, I WAS training an average of 5 days a week...sometimes six. Believe me, it wasn't like I hadn't been training a LOT before the test.

So, what happened, then? Did you sorta' choke, or what? How did you come to be testing? Was this your decision or your teacher's?

A combination of things, I think.

a) I had tested for the "shihan" before, because he always came for the kyu tests...but this was for 3rd kyu, which in that school is the first level of brown belt. Thus the first level of higher expectation.

b) I had expressed some interest in teaching, thus the 2nd level of higher expectation.

c) I choke a lot on tests. ;) of any kind, more so now that I am older.

d) At brown belt, all the waza are called in Japanese.

e) It was a decision reached by my immediate teacher and myself together. We both thought I was ready...but please also understand that in the Doshinkan, failing a test is certainly not unheard of, and I'd say it is not unusual to fail at least one test along the way. I think in some sense, it may be a test in and of itself...how do you handle failure? Are you encouraged, or discouraged? Do you train more and prepare, or do you say "ah forget about it?" I think these are important things that someone will never know if they don't go through the experience.

One thing guaranteed in life...you will fail sometime. How will you handle it?

Oh, did I mention I choke a lot on tests?? :D

Best,
Ron

NagaBaba
06-27-2008, 02:43 PM
Can you believe, this is very small country with 10,5 milion ppl, but they have 6 separated governments (to complicated to explain), with a total of 58 mandators.

It is painfull to admit this.
But at least I could correct the "unpronouncable one".
Not many of us can say that. :p

Hohohohoooo these guys improving his country quickly :D I left Belgium 12 years ago, so I'm out of date but I'm in better shape...... Looks like in next 12 years they will have 12 governments! :eek: :freaky: :hypno:
Thank you Dieter for update.

Shany
06-27-2008, 03:52 PM
The swari-waza was bit stiff, without movement and flow. The handachi-waza was much better.

Stefan Stenudd
06-27-2008, 08:37 PM
France has a joint aikido organization for the purpose of issuing dan grades in accordance with the government rules. Maybe the "jury" is that big, because they need to have representatives from several of the aikido federations cooperating in this grading organization.

In Japanese kendo and iaido examinations, there are usually several people in the "jury" - the more, the higher the grades tested.

In aikido, there are many cases where one shihan alone is the judge. That is not at all common in other budo.
In Sweden, we normally have three persons judging dan examinations. I have the impression that this is often the case also in other countries.

Peter Ralls
06-27-2008, 11:19 PM
Am I the only one that thinks that the attacks seem to lack much intensity? I am used to seeing attacks with a lot more speed and intention, especially when people are testing in front of their friends and family and other aikidoists. In my experience that tends to jazz people up a bit. This testing seems very slow and controlled to me.

Bronson
07-01-2008, 04:44 PM
IFor such an unfortunate occurrence, the fault should lie primarily with the teacher, not the student, however.

I would have to disagree. At some point the student is responsible for learning and performing. A teacher can't make a student learn and a teacher can't make a student perform well on any given day. I have seen people fail tests who were very capable of doing everything required for the grading. They just, for whatever reasons, didn't perform at the expected level on that day. I fail to see how this would be the instructor's fault. The instructor can provide the knowledge, training, and motivation but the student ultimately is the one who must provide an acceptable performance during the test.

Bronson

Bronson
07-01-2008, 04:48 PM
I've been to a couple dan tests where all the yudansha present were asked to sit around the mat during the test and to join the teachers (two or three of them) who formed the actual testing panel for discussion afterwards.

When my Sensei conducts testing all yudansha are asked to grade the test. We are not part of the testing board but what we do is compare how we graded the test with how the people on the board graded the test. We get to ask them questions and determine why they scored it as they did. This is all in an effort to teach us what to look for and how to grade tests.

Bronson

Jonathan
07-04-2008, 10:57 AM
I would have to disagree. At some point the student is responsible for learning and performing. A teacher can't make a student learn and a teacher can't make a student perform well on any given day. I have seen people fail tests who were very capable of doing everything required for the grading. They just, for whatever reasons, didn't perform at the expected level on that day. I fail to see how this would be the instructor's fault. The instructor can provide the knowledge, training, and motivation but the student ultimately is the one who must provide an acceptable performance during the test.

You may, or may not, have noticed that I didn't say that a student's poor testing was solely the instructor's fault. I recognize, of course, that the student bears responsibility, too, for his/her successes and failures. What proportion, exactly, you and I might not agree on, but I do agree that the student is "the one who must provide an acceptable performance during the test." Actually, this seems rather obvious to me...

I have seen quite a number of students taking a test for which they were woefully under-prepared. They were confused about terms, beginning stances (ai or gyaku hanmi), and fumbled badly through the performance of techniques. You can't hide a lack of reps; there is a quality of movement that comes only by repetition. Even if a student is having a bad day, you can tell if they put in the reps necessary to be testing. Most of the students I have seen flubbing tests did not evidence such quality of movement. In these instances, I believe the teacher, not the student, is to blame for the student's bad performance. They should not have been allowed to test until the stamp of sufficient repetitions had impressed itself upon their movements. This is the responsibility of the teacher, not the student, to judge.

Amassus
07-15-2008, 06:23 PM
Greetings all.

I'm replying to this thread as a member of an independent aikido club. I am very aware of my own club's limitations and standards for testing compared with other groups who are affiliated to a larger organization.

The grading panel at the club usually consists of the head instructor and two or three other yudansha. During the test, the head instructor will call out techniques but may also ask other members of the panel if there is anything they would like to see that has not yet been shown. For yudansha, freestyle situations are asked for.

A person who is asked to test is almost guarenteed to pass as the instructor 'invites' the student to take the test knowing the student is capable. He wants to see the student perform under pressure of the testing environment. I know of only one student my instructor has failed in this manner. The student was failed not on technique but on attitude and the treatment of his uke.

We train in a Judo dojo that also supports a third japanese budo so the atmosphere is pleasant, appropriate to the art and the formality is there with the underlying intimacy of student/teacher relationships.

How does it compare to other clubs? Well, by attending seminars run by the bigger organizations I am proud to say that our 'quality control' is in place and on par with what I have seen out there.

Just a few thoughts.:)

dalen7
07-19-2008, 02:16 PM
It was intimidating enough with 3 people watching me...but a whole panel. :D

We had a 4th, 3rd, and 1st dan for our testing.
But Im sure for higher ranks it gets more, at least by the looks of it... guess I will find out one day. :)

Peace

dAlen