View Full Version : Testing Fears

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02-25-2002, 12:29 PM
I've been training in a USAF dojo for about 6 months now, and one of my regular instructors and several of my fellow students tell me I'm ready to test for my first promotion. Trouble is, I'm not sure I agree with them. I've tried to focus my training on the appropriate techniques, and I know I've progressed significantly since I started...I'm just not confident that I'm "there." There's always something that needs correcting, or adjusting, or something. I know I'm never going to be perfect, but how do I know if I'm ready or not? Should I be nervous about testing, or should I take my jitters as I sign that I'm not ready? Does everybody get a case of nerves before they test?



02-25-2002, 12:41 PM
Dude remember high school?? dont wanna?? sorry just remember your finals for a min ya painful times eh? ever nervus?? then ace the test?? ya get my drift?? not well the point is that being nervouse have nothing to to with being ready or not ( heck I was so nervus at my 1st kyu test yesterday I couldnt eat.) just go with the flow. If sensei says your ready then you proably are. Have fun relax but stay strong. dont worry your bound to take the test sooner of later if people say now then your ready now!

02-25-2002, 01:00 PM
Originally posted by dc20
I'm just not confident that I'm "there." There's always something that needs correcting, or adjusting, or something. I know I'm never going to be perfect, but how do I know if I'm ready or not?

Ask your Sensei.

02-25-2002, 04:58 PM
Yes, one of the things I so enjoy about Aikido: there is always room for improvement. ALWAYS One favorite way I heard a sandan put it was 'at 6th kyu, we'd like the technique to be somewhat recognizable'.:eek:

If your sensei thinks you are ready, you are. They don't test to see someone not do well. Relax as much as you can and enjoy the experience. It is normal to be nervous if you are normally nervous when tested. But try to keep it all in perspective: you will be testing on something you already do well enough for your level (or they wouldn't let you test), and everyone will be your friend, and be cheering for you, and besides, even if for some really strange reason you didn't pass, the worst thing that happens is sensei says this was a practice test, test again in XXX weeks. But that would be very, very unlikely. In the big scheme of things, this is, afterall, an Aikido test. And one, I'm sure, that you will do very well on, so Good Luck and let us know how it went!

Chuck Clark
02-25-2002, 06:35 PM
Originally posted by dc20
I've been training in a USAF dojo for about 6 months now, and one of my regular instructors and several of my fellow students tell me I'm ready to test for my first promotion. Trouble is, I'm not sure I agree with them. I've tried to focus my training on the appropriate techniques, and I know I've progressed significantly since I started...I'm just not confident that I'm "there."

Respectfully, how could you possibly "know" if you're "there" or not... you really have no useful information about where "there" is.

Trust your teachers. They have been there before and have seen many before you reach the appropriate place where promotion is warranted.

Seems to me that you're being very disrespectful to your teachers by not trusting their experience, understanding, and motives for wanting you to test.

What you're responding to is normal fear of the unknown. Use the energy of that fear as a teacher and helper. And..."Don't worry, nothin's gonna be alright."

Do your best and LEARN.


Robyn Johnson
02-25-2002, 10:18 PM

Personally when my 5th kyu test was drawing near last October, I was extremely nervous and started shaking everytime I thought about it weeks before the actual test! My sensei and everyone told me I was ready and I half believed them. I am a perfectionist and even though everyone does really well in Aikido one day and terrible the next, I would like to do it perfect everytime. That is impossible! I was also very nervous because I hate being in front of people and the idea of making a total fool of myself was all the more scary. It turns out I did alright and passed. Despite being so nervous before and during the actual test, I'm glad I made myself do it. You have to do it sometime and the longer you put it off, the harder it will be I think. I confess that I'm not looking forward to my 4th kyu test but I'll try not to worry about it so much when the time comes. That's my experience and 2 cents. Have a nice day!:)

Robyn :)

02-26-2002, 01:12 AM
Hello David!

There are several interesting points in your questions. At first, I would trust more experienced people, so when your sensei tells you you're ready, you most likely are. So don't worry about this. Where I train, you can decide for yourself when to do the next kyu test. So people often overestimate their skills and are told after the test to come again. That's nothing exceptional. And different to most other Aikido styles. But never mind.
Do you really think after 6 month there's nothing to correct? I think even at the day you'll die there will be something to correct (meaning improve) on your aikido. That's what makes aikido interesting. When I did aikido for 6 month I already passed my first test (after 2 month) but I still struggled with left and right and I was afraid of doing mai ukemi. And I was very nervous.
How do you know that you're "there"? In my experience you don't know and you can't know. Not, because you are in the center of the activity. To judge your own progress is very difficult I found.

And now to the question of being nervous: when you can be not nervous, fine! I never managed to do so. And I also would miss this extra kick, I think. When I was invited for shodan test, I managed to not be nervous untill sensei said: this is the last technique for this session and that implicated that our test would take place in 5 minutes. I thought how can I do aikido when my legs don't move? But then this interesting thing happened. Everything went well!!! I found that for me, as now my fear went from mai ukemi to breakfalls, there are two ways of doing good breakfalls: either being VERY angry or VERY nervous (must be the adrenaline). And the time I was most nervous in Aikido was when I was asked to be uke for a nidan test (after only beeing six month shodan!). And there I did my best ukemi!

So the short synopsis: don't worry, just do the test and be as nervous as you are, there'snothing wrong with it.

Good luck for your test,


02-26-2002, 02:47 AM
We test once or twice a year and my teacher said last week that when there is a chance to grade for a kyu-test one should allways give it a try. You might fail - but then you would get some valuable feedback on your aikido. Chances are that you'll pass - especially the lower grades. They don't expect much more than to see you do your best. Concider grading a chance to focus your practice on the program you want to do for the grading. It's a great learning opportunity.
Remember to have fun and relax!

02-26-2002, 03:01 AM
Dave, I used to get people ready to test for 5th kyu in an evening. Unless you've been sleeping through class or showing up stoned on acid then 6 months is plenty of time to get ready.

Do you know the names of the techniques (all 7 of them according to what I just looked up)? I've seen them forgotten and the student passed. Can you do them without your pants falling down? I've seen it, and yes the test was passed. If you answered yes to these two questions then


Perfection is the enemy of good enough.

PS: You'll be nervous but think how humdrum and mundane most people's lives are. A little risk puts some spice back into life. It's fun.

Tim Griffiths
02-26-2002, 04:25 AM
Originally posted by dc20
[B... There's always something that needs correcting, or adjusting, or something. I know I'm never going to be perfect, but how do I know if I'm ready or not? Should I be nervous about testing, or should I take my jitters as I sign that I'm not ready? Does everybody get a case of nerves before they test?
Dave [/B]

Dave, you've brought about something wonderful - total agreement between all the posters in a thread. Do you get the message? Take the test.

Taking the four sentences quoted above:

1. Sure there are corrections. Your technique probably sucks. But the technique of the people one grade up from you also sucks. Even your teacher sucks (but on a different level). The higher you grade, the more you get corrected, not less.

2. You don't know if you're ready. That's not your job, its your sensei's. Do what he says.

3. Ever been nervous about anything? Has that always been a sign that you shouldn't do it? Fear is a result of percived risk, that's all. Feel free to be nervous, but don't let that stop you taking the test.

4. Usually, for the first few. Pretty much, for the rest.

We roll and do breakfalls even though we're (initally) scared of them. We face attacks from fists, swords and knives. We expect bruises, sprains and the occasional broken bone. We handle it. Compared to this, why all the fuss about 10 minutes of doing what your doing for the rest of the class anyway?


02-26-2002, 05:41 AM
I haven't had time to read the other replies yet (sorry!), but I would like to point out that:
1: Grading is fun.
2: Failing doesn't really matter, because you can always repeat the grading. Particularly at the lower grade. And what's wrong with that?
3: If you're not ready, they won't ask you to grade. If you're been told to grade, you're ready.
4: Nobody thinks they're ready. Your first grading is a much smaller deal than you think. You don't need "supernatural ninja" ukemi for your first grade.


Ghost Fox
02-26-2002, 07:34 AM
On a hill over looking a battlefield are two men on horseback. One is a young samurai in red and white armor, the other a silver-haired old man in sky blue robes. Below them two armies are about to collide, the smaller of the two armies wearing red and white armor.

"Are you ready for lead your first battle young one?"

"I think so Sensei."

"Have you learned your lessons to the best of your abilities?"

"Hai, Sensei."

"Have you studied your enemies tactics and performed the necessary reconnaissance?"

"Hai, Sensei."

"Have you labored over every detail of your plan, going over every scenario that your mind could fathom?"

"Hai Sensei."

"Then ride in with wild abandon young one. For the gods do as they will, and this battle has already been decided."

With that the young samurai draws his katana and with a large battle cry storms down the hill into battle. Close behind him the calvary forces that have been hiding since the night before swarm down the mountain to the unsuspecting enemy.

02-26-2002, 10:27 AM
First of all, thanks to everyone for the feedback! I do appreciate it. Here's an update for anyone keeping track: Went to my regular intermediate class last night, and then teamed up afterwards with two other fellows to practice our 5th kyu techniques with the assistance of a shodan (who happens to be on the grading panel). We practiced nothing but 5th kyu stuff for about an hour and a half. She was very helpful and I was feeling much more confident after the session. And then... the sandan who had been teaching beginner's class at the same time brought us over to do a "full-dress rehearsal" practice test in front of his class. Did not do too well, and I knew it, even as the test was in progress. Mainly he lectured me on my morotetori kokyuho, which was weak. Afterwards, the shodan who had been helping volunteered to continue to assist, an offer I intend to take her up on. I still haven't decided whether or not to go for it (test is on March 9th), but will make the decision soon...with the advice of my instructors and sempai! Thanks all!

Dave :rolleyes:

02-26-2002, 10:24 PM
Well, you must be one tough guy, a class, then and hour and a half of practice test, then a dress-rehersal practice test...I'm tired just reading about it...

Keep in mind the things the sandan said were (or should have been, at least) in the helpful hints category, rather than criticism. Expect words like that after every test. You already knew it was not your best performance in that area, so no big surprise he also noticed it (and things may not go perfectly on the test, either)...the goal of the words afterwards is to bring up areas to work on for the next time, often not so much that you missed the mark for where you are at, but pointing out the level they want you to seek. Good luck in March!

02-27-2002, 11:35 AM

I train at a USAF dojo as well. In regards to 5thkyu my sensei always says that he is just looking for you to demonstrate that you know how to do the techniques. This means he does not look for perfection or a demonstration of an understanding of the principles.

Morotetori Kokyuho was the toughest technique for me to get as well as I approached my 5th kyu test so don't dispair. (Heck, I still have problems with it at times.)

The practice tests are always helpful and at least for me, get the jitters out.

When I was getting ready for my 5th kyu test, I would just run through the techniques by myself. And watching Yamada's Power and the Basics Vol. 1(If your USAF-East) always helps as well.

You'll do fine.

03-02-2002, 06:55 PM
Just another "FYI"... Good news is that I found out the test isn't until the 16th of March, so I have another week to prepare (thought it was the 9th). I've also had a couple of good classes this week with some good pratice on my ryotetori tenchinage and that darn morotetori kokyuho, so I'm feeling better. I think I'll still be nervous, but I guess I'm gonna go for it. Besides, one of my instructors is speaking very matter-of-factly about my testing in a couple of weeks... Again, thanks for the encouragement everyone.


03-13-2002, 12:09 AM
OK everybody...here goes nothing. I did my testing paperwork tonight. I practiced my 5th kyu techniques tonight during our head instructor's class, and asked his opinion afterwards. He simply said, "Take the test." Last night I also asked one of our sandan instructors if I should test, and he said, "Yeah, what have you got to lose? Even if you fail, you will have learned something, you will at least have been through the process." He is pretty tough to please, but he signed my test application for me. I'm still nervous, but I'm going for it. Cross your fingers!


03-13-2002, 03:13 AM
Hey Dave don't sweat it. You'll do great.

One of the few things that I've learned is to change the way I think of testing. I've learned to not think of it as a test but to think of it as a class where I get personal instruction from 2 to 4 high ranked people. Something most of us would kill for if it didn't have the word "test" attached to it. You do the technique to the best of your ability, they offer suggestions or corrections...just like a normal class.
The only difference is that there will be people watching. I'll let you in on a little secret. They disappear. I'm not kidding. I can't name a single person who I can remember for certain has observed any of my tests...not one.

Like so many other people here have said, in the extremely unlikely event that you don't pass, SO WHAT! Ask yourself: If you don't pass will you stop studying aikido, if you don't pass does it diminish your value as a person, if you don't pass will it take food out of someones mouth or keep clothes off their back? No. So in the great grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter all that much. Loosen up and have fun, the best way to keep you center is to keep smiling.

Good luck (even though none of us think you'll need it)


03-13-2002, 03:36 AM
I have this recurring dream that I wake up half way thru my grading and discover that I'm wearing my pyjamas and everyone's looking at me.

Oh wait......

03-13-2002, 05:30 AM
Well, Michelle, at least you have pj's on, I tend to have a bit less...

Dave, sounds like you are more than ready. Remember, there will almost surely be suggestions after the test, things they want you to work on for next time, but those are usually not criticisms of how you did this time, but just milestones for the next test, so like has been said, think of this as a really fun private lesson. One difference I would say, is I do know who was there for mine, not from during the test actually, they did disapear then, but reappeared to congratulate me afterwards, a very nice feeling.

Be sure to let us know how it went:)

03-13-2002, 05:42 AM
Originally posted by ca
Well, Michelle, at least you have pj's on, I tend to have a bit less...Heyyyyy this is turning into quite an interesting thread. Care to elaborate ?? ;)

03-13-2002, 06:20 AM
Originally posted by JJF
Heyyyyy this is turning into quite an interesting thread. Care to elaborate ?? ;)
Sure, just have a current credit card available when you call this 1-900 number....:eek:

03-13-2002, 07:30 AM
First I'd like to say that I'm sure you'll do fine. Next I'm also a 6th kyu coming up for a 5th kyu test sometime soon, and just thinking about would make my stomach turn. However, throughout the last week I have been helping another student prepare for his 5th kyu test for which I was uke, and going through that preparation and his test with him, sure helped in how I view my upcoming test. It no longer scares me, in fact I am now looking forward to it. :p Side note, we were both convinced that the yudansha doing the grading would "tear apart" his tsuki kote gaeshi, but in the end he must have performed it better than either of us had thought. (Spent plenty of time perfecting it) BTW, Brett, if your reading this, you DID do a great job on your test. Congratulations!! :D


03-17-2002, 12:05 AM
Well, at least it's over with! I finally got that first test out of the way! I won't know if I passed for a few days yet, but I am comfortable that I did my best. Now I just have to wait for the verdict. I was nervous at first, but I was soon very much in something of a mushin-like state. It just happened. I just went with it, and was pretty much oblivious to everything but my uke. There were those "oops, that wasn't quite right" moments during the test, but afterwards I couldn't recall any of them. I just remembered doing the test...nothing specific. I did get several compliments from sempai and yudansha afterwards. But as they say...the hay is in the barn. I'll let everybody know how it turns out.

03-17-2002, 02:33 AM
That is great! I'm sure you did well and will get a passing grade. Boy, I hate not getting the word right away... my first sensei would announce your grade right after telling you the good and bad points of what he saw. At my second dojo, since it is a small club of almost all yudansha, testing wasn't really thought of much. Then I came along, and asked to be tested, so they held tests for me and a couple of others.

After the test, they used phrases like 'great energy', 'sincere effort', etc, but never actually came out and said we'd passed. Days, then weeks went by. Tests were referred to, but never whether we'd passed. Finally, the club was at a restaraunt for dinner and to plan a seminar, and sensei again mentioned the tests. The others looked at me (OK, I'm known for my mouth), I worked up my nerve, and said "sensei, about those tests, we were wondering if we'd passed?". In all their post-test comments, they hadn't realized those few crucial words got left out. He was surprised we hadn't realized we'd passes before, but I hear from others that they now are very careful to make clear the grades after the tests.:D

03-18-2002, 05:08 AM
Originally posted by ca
... but I hear from others that they now are very careful to make clear the grades after the tests.... Hey! This reminds me of my favourite subject - Me! :D I took my 4. kyu test and passed it before taking a 'short' break from aikido (3 years to be exact). Unfortunately I never got around to having my sensei sign my grade-book.

After comming back and having trained for about a year I felt I was ready for a new test. I asked if he could remember my 4. kyu test, so I could go for 3. kyu, but he said no. I therefore assumed I had to re-take the 4. kyu. I did - and I passed with flying colors (sp ? - valid expression ?). Afterwards he told me, that he was only joking about retaking the 4. kyu, but I had assumed that he was serious :).

It's no problem though. I gained a lot of selfconfidence from retaking the grade, and I passed 3. kyu yesterday. I'd rather be a really good what-ever-kyu than a just barely good enough one-less-kyu ;)

What I have learned is to better understand my senseis WEIRD sense of humor. :D

03-20-2002, 02:03 AM
I passed! No specific critique yet, but I passed! Thanks again everyone, for the encouragement.


03-20-2002, 07:03 AM
:D :D congratulations!!:D :D

Chuck Clark
03-20-2002, 10:26 AM
Way to go, David!

Now continue to train and don't give up.


Billy Zaenglein
03-20-2002, 12:30 PM
I had trained for a year before I took my 5th kyu (I wasn't in a hurry to get tested and changed a few dojos). I felt that I was ready for it when it came and not really nervous. For my 4th kyu, I wasn't nervous, but I forgot what shomen uchi ikkyo ura was! :blush: Now, that's pretty bad. I had to get thrown and shown before my brain went back into place.

Now, I'm getting close to taking my 3rd kyu and I've watched a few more tests since my last test.

But more importantly, I've actively studied what it is I need to do. I've put in a lot of time with the Jo and Bokken, for the foot work. I've seen myself on a few tapes that we've shot in the dojo (painful to watch, very painful :dead: ). I've though about testing while training in the dojo. And I've spent a lot of time doing 'shadow giawaza' in my head with 2-3 imaginary foes.

Now, I feel much more confident about taking my test. And as a few have said above, if your sensei feels that you're ready to test, then you probably are. Most won't test you just to get the money.

I work offshore and have missed a lot of classes because of that. But my Sensei has been telling me that I'm ready. Now I feel he is right and feel that, in my mind, I am already a 3rd kyu, wheather I pass my next test, or not.

Write down what will be required of you in the test. Have 2 moves for each attack AND one back up, because, you may very well brain lock when asked to do a technique. Practice those everyday, even if it's just you in a room or going over it in your head. Follow those two things and you'll do well enough.