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senshincenter 06-21-2008 01:54 PM

Do you test like this?
Is it just me - probably is - but the formality here, or something, just seems so alien (to me).

What do you all think?

Don 06-21-2008 09:09 PM

Re: Do you test like this?
Looks normal to me. Did my nidan test in much the same way.

Janet Rosen 06-22-2008 12:20 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
Looks pretty normal to me.

justin 06-22-2008 06:04 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
no pressure then ! thats one big grading committee

Jonathan 06-22-2008 04:08 PM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 05:42 PM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 09:53 PM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 06-22-2008 11:38 PM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 12:53 AM

Re: Do you test like this?

Michael Hackett wrote: (Post 209345)
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 05:15 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 11:20 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 11:53 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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. :)

aikidoc 06-24-2008 07:41 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 08:29 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 09:19 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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.)


ChrisHein 06-24-2008 09:49 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 11:31 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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.


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 12:16 PM

Re: Do you test like this?

Garth Jones wrote: (Post 209538)
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.

- John

AsimHanif 06-24-2008 01:25 PM

Re: Do you test like this?
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.


Garth Jones 06-24-2008 01:26 PM

Re: Do you test like this?

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 10:56 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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 12:25 PM

Re: Do you test like this?
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.


Garth Jones 06-25-2008 02:44 PM

Re: Do you test like this?
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.


mickeygelum 06-25-2008 03:38 PM

Re: Do you test like this?
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, those that can't...teach, and those that can do and teach...are out there doing both! "

Train well,


Jonathan 06-26-2008 09:02 AM

Re: Do you test like this?
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.

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