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Last Friday I was asked to do several jiyu waza's. This usually, IME, means I've screwed up the first so Sensei wants me to try to improve. Oh well.
Then, after class Sensei approaches me outside in the parking lot - an unusual move for him, though not unheard of. He asks me if I've been doing anything special in my life, particularly as it pertains to Aikido. He says he's noticed considerable improvement in my Aikido. A really huge difference.
Right, so, back when I got my nidan, he told me he expected me to be ready for my sandan in about half the time it normally takes (1.5 years as opposed to 3). It's been almost two years.
Then, one of his top students who knows him better than anyone else on the planet had told me several weeks ago that he thinks Sensei is waiting for me to ask for it. Like I'm basically ready and that I'm the one who needs to realize this.
I'm not one to argue with my instructor's judgement (mostly), but I certainly don't feel ready. I feel, well, like I've got a long way to go. In some ways, Sandan is a bigger deal than shodan ever could be. Aside from it just being a higher rank, there's the expectation that a sandan should pretty much have mastery of the art. A sandan is at the point where any learning is up to the student. No teacher required anymore.