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10-25-2005, 12:52 AM
I recently passed my shodan test and remember how I always wondered if that would make a difference in my aikido/my way of thinking or understanding/etc. I donīt know if it has anything to do with this test or not, but I do feel that ever since I tested a door seems to have opened slightly, giving me a glance of what aikido may actually be about (technically but also apart from technique) and what my aikido should eventually be about.
It is a very humbling experience and at the same time it is so incredibly exciting!!! Things that were until then very much not understandable for me at all now start to make sense (I am still lightyears away of understanding them but at least now I kinda feel that I understand what I donīt understand - if that makes any sense to you at all... :rolleyes: ). Itīs like climbing to the first hilltop only to find the Himalayas rising behind it, offering so much more and being a challenge so worth taking.

Sorry for being so all over the place and possibly overly romantic :p but I just had to get this off my chest - and I would really love to hear if other people had similar experiences and what they were like. Thanks for sharing.


Adam Huss
10-25-2005, 01:59 AM
Enzan No Metsuke! Well, sorta. Anyways, sounds like your on the right path! Keep up the training!

P.S. Pretty sure I spelled that Ishi wrong.

Nick P.
10-25-2005, 07:02 AM
Congrats Sonja.
I too tested recently for shodan, and am awaiting the belt, hakama and certificate. For the moment, if asked, I say I am a Grey Belt.

Like you pointed out, things make sense, in that I have a firm command of....the fact that I know very little, and that that is OK. In fact, the only thing that seems to have really changed for me is
1) the fact that I am completely comfortable with where I am with my training and
2) It really is about sharing what you have had the privelege to learn, and to do so in the manner of "you can do it, too" and not "see how much better I am than you"

10-25-2005, 07:40 AM
Congrats Sonja!
I think Shodan literally was a 'first step' for me because I stopped thinking about technicalities of different techniques. I think this is where real aikido starts - the ability to harmonise with your attacker and move between different techniques as the situation requires it. I have enjoyed the journey since then more than ever!

John Boswell
10-25-2005, 08:48 AM
Congratulations Sonja! Very exciting news and I, for one, am very happy for you. :)

A fellow aikidoka of mine, John Couch, was very nervous and worried constantly upto the time that he tested for his Shodan. Once he passed his test, a calmness seemed to sweep through him. His aikido became more sure, very strong, relaxed, dynamic and most importantly... fun! I seem to recall him saying many of the things that you have said. And I know that I have similar thoughts as yours, as I am 2nd kyu, getting ready to test for 1st kyu...and Shodan is just at the top of the hill! ;)

I'm greatly looking forward to seeing where I will be a year from now and experiencing the same feelings you are now.

Congratulations and enjoy the journey! I'm sure you have many great things ahead of you along the :do:.

Adam Huss
10-25-2005, 01:21 PM
Hey, as an aftert thought....
I was laying in bed at 5am this morning thinking about aikido when I got to thinking about this thread again. I cam to the conclusion that at the shodan level, the student reaches the point where they no longer need somone standing over their shoulder telling them what to do. You are capable of learning on your own or just by training. Not insinuating, of course, that you don't need a teacher but just that you can pick up stuff just by traning. What made me think of this was the other day at the dojo I was training with a couple of other shodans and a couple of kyu ranks (b/c of my schedule I can only train in the mornings and our dojo cho only goes to evening classes on weekdays) and at the end of class I realized that I had learned a lot and nobody really told me anything specific...we were just tranining.

10-25-2005, 10:19 PM
Deepest compliments and congratulations.

We often talk about your Shodan as only high school, you now have the basics, and now the fun starts. Nidan is junior college associates degree. Sandan is bachelors degree. Yodan is graduate work or masters degree. Etc.

I have learn so much more beyond the hilltop, even hit a few valleys. But even they offer a beautiful view.

Nice job.

10-26-2005, 01:20 AM
Thanks everyone for all the replies. Itīs nice to hear that others go through the same stuff and know what I am talking about - fortunately I can also share all of this with my husband who is going through similar stuff (he tested for shodan a couple of months before me) but I guess our non-aikio friends think we have gone nuts ;)

We often talk about your Shodan as only high school, you now have the basics, and now the fun starts.

You knwo what? I even feel like the most fun comes from actually going back to basics now. Somehow it feels like everything is basics. And therefore fun!

Once he passed his test, a calmness seemed to sweep through him. His aikido became more sure, very strong, relaxed, dynamic and most importantly... fun!

In a way this is what happened in my test (well, I donīt know about the "very strong" part :) ...). I was incredibly nervous beforehand and during the test found out that I was actually able to center myself and get calm despite my huge testing issues. That was an amazing experience and maybe it is part of the understanding and growing that got kicked off by the test itself.

Nick, congratulations for passing your test and have fun with your hakama :) To me it feels new and special and I still feel like Iīll have to give it back next week or so :)

I wonder what it is that makes people grow after a test. Any ideas?

10-26-2005, 03:40 PM
I wonder what it is that makes people grow after a test. Any ideas?

I think that little strip of black material does a lot for the aikidoka's mentality. A part of you now knows that you are considered black belt material by your peers and so you begin to act like a black belt...how 'bout that?

I know of a story where a teacher asked some low kyu students to perform a technique. They struggled but they got the job done. Then he said "Now do it like a black belt" the difference was incredible.

I have been thinking about this ever since attending a seminar by Nadeau sensei and I believe that if you step onto the mat with the confidence and presence of a yudansha, then your overall posture, bearing and presence changes during techniques.

Of course that is my humble opinion. :)

10-26-2005, 06:17 PM
Other peoples' expectations make a difference too.

When I was playing chess in Alaska I was ranked Cat. 1 (pretty good). When I moved to Washington and a different organization I was suddenly ranked Cat. 3 (mediocre). And I had mediocre results for quite a while before recovering from this, I think because no one expected any better from me. (Even me--I would say to myself "So if I lose, everyone thinks I'm Cat. 3, no one will make a big deal about it." And then I'd lose.)

I think that the respect other aikidoka give to a dan rank helps encourage them to do better--if it
doesn't make them horribly insecure (seen that happen once).

Mary Kaye