View Full Version : My shodan exam on YouTube

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04-19-2009, 10:05 AM
It took me two years, but I finally decided to put my shodan exam on YouTube.

Part 1 has the basic techniques:

Part 2 has the jiyu waza, ukemi and randori

The exam took place at the May seminar hosted by Aikido de la Montagne in 2007.

Kevin Leavitt
04-19-2009, 10:25 AM
Thanks for sharing!

04-19-2009, 11:00 AM

Be glad that you didnīt take the test in Sweden, for some reason the swedish aikikai has a strict "no video/no photography"-rule on dan examinations.

04-19-2009, 02:41 PM

Be glad that you didnīt take the test in Sweden, for some reason the swedish aikikai has a strict "no video/no photography"-rule on dan examinations.

That really is to bad...we have cameras and videos, etc.
When I get Shodan I for sure want it taped...all that hard work, be nice to have a memory...otherwise whats the point of showing up for the test. ;)
(Just a thought.) :D



04-19-2009, 03:38 PM
Thank you for the video, it was nice.

Train well,


04-19-2009, 09:10 PM

Be glad that you didnīt take the test in Sweden, for some reason the swedish aikikai has a strict "no video/no photography"-rule on dan examinations.

What's the reasoning behind the rule. My shodan exam is the home movie I watch the most. You can learn a lot about what you need to improve on by watching clips of yourself. I also appreciated the opportunity to watch the shodan movies of others as I prepared my exam.

I can imagine abuse of such videos. I would not have wanted soemone other than myself to make my exam quite as public as YouTube. And those that failed that day, there were a few, would probably feel even more strongly about it. On the other hand the exam is fairly public. Mine was at a seminar where Tamura sensei made one of his very rare North American appearances and there were hundreds of people around because of it.

04-19-2009, 09:11 PM
P.S. I guess I'm just lucky my Olson ancestors left Sweden a few generations back.

Chris Farnham
04-19-2009, 10:50 PM
I was actually there for your test Jonathan, although I couldn't train that due to a broken collarbone. As I recall there was a pretty high failure rate that day.

04-20-2009, 11:29 AM
What I remember is that 6 people failed (4 for shodan, 2 for nidan) out of about 20 tests (this is from memory, I might be a bit off). It wasn't much better last year where 3 of 12 failed. Don't know if I'll make it there to see how it goes this year as my wife is expecting our third child in June and is on doctor ordered bedrest. Hope I can find a way to be there on Saturday at least since a member of our dojo is supposed to test for nidan.

04-21-2009, 10:03 AM
. My shodan exam is the home movie I watch the most. You can learn a lot about what you need to improve on by watching clips of yourself.
And what is the result of this watching? :D What are the most important errors you did?

04-21-2009, 11:22 AM
Thanks for sharing.

04-21-2009, 05:05 PM
And what is the result of this watching? :D What are the most important errors you did?

Overall I'm satisfied with my exam. I think I showed that I could do all the basic techniques with some confidence, which I consider the main point of the shodan exam. There are aspects of my posture that could have been better, such as having more stable footing and squaring my hips for better power during some of the throws. I also wish I was a little "sharper" and a little "snappier", in other words a little more like Skip Chapman as he tossed me around in the ukemi portion of the exam. Wish I didn't look as tired and moved a little faster. But with a few hours of training right before the exam and the stress of the exam itself, I was tired.

04-24-2009, 04:50 AM
Nice test Jonathan! Thanks for sharing.

Phil Van Treese
04-24-2009, 03:14 PM
Be glad that when you tested for shodan and nidan you could wear your belt. My sensei, Tomiki Shihan, did not allow me to wear a black belt until I made sandan!!! Why? I don't know but I was happy when I made it and he gave it to me. But like he always told us---it's not the beltbut rather it's the knowledge that counts.

04-29-2009, 10:02 PM
Hello Phil,
Your story intrigues me. I have never heard of the black belt used as anything other than a marker of yudansha status. Was this a special treatment for you, or was it also done for others.
I'm not sure what you mean about me being able to wear my belt as I tested for shodan and nidan. I was wearing my white belt for my test (the black belt arrived a little while later in my order from Tozando with my hakama) and I have not yet tested for nidan. As for my uke, he was already wearing a black belt and hakama (as a shodan) when I first stepped into an aikido dojo (he was the guy that met me at the door and told me where to sit to watch the class). I'm not even sure what rank he had at the time of my test.

04-30-2009, 10:56 PM
I learned alot just by watching you test! thanks for posting the video.

05-01-2009, 02:57 PM
Your welcome, and thanks for the compliment. But make sure you watch clips of people better than me!

Phil Van Treese
05-01-2009, 04:12 PM
Tomiki Shihan was a disciplinarian and wanted to be sure that when he promoted to Shodan, or any level black belt, that the person had the proper disposition and some he tested to find out. I think I wasn't the only one he tested like this but I wouldn't know for sure. Your character would truly come thru. Personally, I was mad at first, then bewildered, and then I didn't care because with the skill I had, it started not to bother me. I started to enjoy it because I was giving fits to other shodans, nidans and a few sandans. When I tested for my sandan, I wore my white belt too and I really didn't care. When he gave me the black belt though, I almost passed out from "Yahoo-ism"!!!!! I had 3 Nidans, a Sandan and Yodan for my sandan test and I had no trouble at all with any of them. I have to give credit to Tomiki Shihan for that though. I personally will never hold back rank from any of my students but they will earn it.

05-02-2009, 03:56 PM
here's mine too


this was in December. Glad it is over - wish I could train more:)

05-05-2009, 07:24 AM
Hello Judith,
Guess it's my turn to say thanks for sharing! Out of curiosity, if you wish you could train more, how much do you train?

05-06-2009, 01:55 AM
I was training about 5 times a week before testing. I then had to move back to Northern Ireland, and have been training very intermittently since January. I travel down to Dublin as often as I can to practice with Dublin Aikikai, and occasionally get to practice in Belfast. However, I have to work some evenings and the Belfast group only train Mon/Wed. I am hoping to start my own class as soon as I can, but finding space is proving to be more difficult that I would have imagined...

So, the short answer is, not as often as I would like:)

Congratulations on your test!

05-06-2009, 09:28 PM
I know how you feel Judith. When I was 5th kyu I was training at least 5 times a week ay Aikido de la Montagne (which is open 7 days a week and about 360 days a year). Then I moved to Quebec City and my new dojo was, and is, only open 3 days a week (2 days a week in the summer). At least the classes are 2 hours long and I get a decent workout when I go. On top of it, I regularly miss classes as me and my wife take turns training when no babysitter can be found. More recently, my wife, pregnant with our third, has been on bedrest and I have missed many classes as I could not leave her alone with the kids. However, in my case it is temporary and I know that even with three kids I will find a way to keep on training, though I'm not sure at what frequency. Those with the passion always find a way.

Good luck starting your own class. That entails a lot of work and responsibility, more than I could probably muster with everything else going on in my life. But as I said, there is always a way, so I wish you the best of luck.

Life is good, but that doesn't mean it's easy.

06-01-2009, 10:12 AM
This looks like an extensive exam. Congratulations on passing. It takes a lot of guts to offer this for the whole world to see.

I watched your sempai as well as your movements and I would like to offer contructive suggestions for your improvement.

The "swinging arms" between techniques tells me that you disconnect your appendiges when you are not engaged in a technique. This can seriously reduce your response time for the next attack and may cause late timing and distance problems (proper fitting). Keep your arms/hands engaged (full of Ki) and in front of you in readiness as soon as you complete a technique, as your sempai demonstrated, and it will make for better timing on the next attack. This is "Zanshin" and is essential for the serious budoka. I believe you are very close to making use of this concept in your techniques, so keep practicing.

I also noticed that at various times you had a very wide stance during some of your throws. This commits you to the position you are in and will limit your ability to move/change directions efficiently (especially during multiple attack situations). It can also destabilize you in the execution of said throw. For the most part you had very nice posture, but I noticed sometimes you bent at the waist too much during execution of some throws. Again, this will fix itself with more practice.

You looked very good for a new shodan in an examination. You kept your wits about you and did not seem to get frustrated during difficult situations. I could tell you had spent time in preparation for the exam and came there to show it. Thanks for having the guts to share it with us. Congratulations. Enjoy the rest of your journey,

06-03-2009, 08:47 PM
Thanks for the comments Brent. As far as it taking guts to put it up, it seem aikido is one thing I'm a bit of an exhibitionist in. I had good instructors to help prepare me, though I had a bit of a rough time in the preparation because in the months right before my exam several of my sempai stopped training (most temporarily, one permanently) and I did much of my preparation with 5th and 3rd kyus. For example, my uke in the exam is not a member of my dojo, but an old friend from my first dojo in Montreal.

06-04-2009, 10:08 AM
Thanks for the comments Bruno.... it seems aikido is one thing I'm a bit of an exhibitionist in.(Then why did it take 2 years of debate to post it?):cool:

I like showing off, much to the dismay of some of my teachers. I think demonstrations are where you find out what you really own of Aikido (if its possible to own anything in Aikido?). and its fun!!!! I like the rush. Some people I train with don't.

...and I did much of my preparation with 5th and 3rd kyus.One of my teachers has said that we the students best when we are teaching or working with beginners (paraphrased). Keeps you in check better, I guess?

06-04-2009, 09:33 PM
The two years weren't because of doubt, more like finding the time to get the video editing software running, open a YouTube account and get it up there. There are some other things I may put up if I can get my act together. I have a full time job and two kids (soon to be three), time is a rare commodity for me and I try to put most of the free time I do have for myself towards actual aikido training on the mat.

I agree that you learn a lot by training with beginners and doing some "teaching". But when preparing a dan exam, it can be nice to have ukes you don't have to hold back with.

02-24-2011, 08:04 PM
For those who want to see if I've improved over the years. My nidan exam is now up.


02-25-2011, 12:51 AM
Nice. Intresting format, many uke but no randori.

02-25-2011, 07:27 PM
The last part was a sort-of randori. At any rate it was jiyu waza with any attack, any technique. But they had ukes keeping me surrounded and attaking one at a time, which takes some of the excitement out of it. This has become standard at USAF exams. I think the idea is to give nage time to do clean techniques in rapid succession rather than anything to do with multiple attackers. It also means the ukes don't get tired, only the nages.

Basia Halliop
02-26-2011, 07:01 PM
I remember that particular set of tests last May....The shodan tests did have actual randori (after the rest of the test being some called techniques and then a bunch of jiuwaza with one uke).

Basia Halliop
02-26-2011, 07:04 PM
The other difference for me with multiple-uke jiuwaza is that you don't get a chance to get used to one person, e.g. their body type or how they move. Each person who attacks you is different.

But agreed it's totally different from randori...