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Jessica 02-09-2003 12:32 PM

When to test
Recently, my sensei told me that I'd be testing for 5th kyu at the end of Feb.

That got me thinking, some articals I have read say that you should ask your sensei if you can test, when you feal ready. Others say that you should wait until your sensei says you are ready.

I was wondering what peoples' thoughts were about this.


mattholmes 02-09-2003 12:38 PM

I think it is really up to your dojo/sensei how they want to run it. It's not that it is so important one way or another (keep in mind that there is no long-standing tradition here) and it is just the case of one protocol or the other. I suggest talking with your sensei to see what it is that they feel is the most appropriate or comfortable.


siwilson 02-09-2003 02:02 PM

It is my oppinion that the student should be told when they are ready to grade. This then means that the "qualified" person is setting their marks, not the "unqualified"!

Paul Klembeck 02-09-2003 04:34 PM

If your dojo has training time requirements, then, when you get close to the number of classes specified, ask your teacher if you will be ready when you get to the required number of days. He will probably say yes and advise you to pick an uke, and if no, then he should tell you what you specifically need to work on to become ready.

While every dojo has their own little procedure for this, few teachers really want to keep track of when 5th kyu tests need to happen. The "let the teach tell you" traditions mainly come into effect for much higher ranks, or in other arts. Some of the teachers in other arts need some protection from juveniles whining to get promoted early, but this doesn't seem to be a big aikido problem.

If you have any questions about your own dojo's approach, ask any friendly senior student. They should be happy to help.

Paul Klembeck

Bogeyman 02-09-2003 05:54 PM

In our dojo we have time requirements but the instructors watch the students and if someone is ready sooner then they are asked to test sooner. If they are not ready then they need to wait longer and keep working. I try to give input on a regular basis as well. If a student asks to test they will be informed as to weather or not they are really ready but I find it disrespectful. I look at it as the sensei's responsibility to decide. I know an instructor that lets his students wait until they are way past ready and that his his decision. It doesn't need to be all about rank but what you learn.


rachmass 02-09-2003 07:18 PM

I agree with what Eric just said. The teacher is the one who knows the students best and knows when s/he thinks they are ready to test. As Eric said, sometimes it is sooner, and sometimes later, but it is the teachers decision, even at the early kyu ranks. Anyway, that is my $.02

Creature_of_the_id 02-10-2003 01:37 AM

I personally don't see the benifit on time requirements on gradings. Each person is different and pick up aikido at different rates, I dont see the reason why someone should be held back if they are good enough to grade but haven't done as many classes as anyone else.

The way it is done with us, is if you think you are ready to grade you go along to a specialist course (a course aimed at your current grade), at the end of the course their will be an opportunity to grade if you choose. if you choose to grade and you meet the criteria for the next grade then you pass. if you are not up to scratch then you fail and get an evaluation on what you should improve.

as you go up in rank there are fewer opportunities to grade.

right up until dan grade, at which point you cannot request a grading, but must instead be invited to grade when you are seen to be ready.

I would personally prefer for people to be allowed to choose to grade to black belt and have the standard set high so if they are not up to scratch then they fail. As it stands that is not the case.


Judd 02-17-2003 10:53 AM

I have a related question. If a student feels he/she can pass a higher test than their next rank, is it ok to ask? Say, if testing doesn't happen very often and lots of training has occurred between each test.

rachmass 02-17-2003 11:00 AM

Hi Judd,

I would lump this with my first answer, which is to leave it up to the teacher. Don't ask (in my opinion), the teacher will promote you higher if s/he thinks it is warranted.

Rank really can be arbitrary, and it is good not to get too caught up in where you are, in particular compared with others. We all know instances of folks who are way past the level where they should be for their rank, and visa versa. Just practice for yourself, and unless you need a certain rank for a certain reason (such as to be able to join advanced classes), then there really is no need to get worried about it.

Passing a test is only part of the equation.

all the best,


Judd 02-17-2003 11:10 AM

Good advice. There's really no reason for rank at our school, so no motivation there. If you feel like you can take the higher classes, you just show up, so it doesn't really matter. I was just curious. Thanks for the quick reply! :)

Dirty Dogi 02-17-2003 11:37 AM

Even thouh Im new to Aikido I think I can take an honest standpoint on the issue. In all honesty I like the idea of earning rank. It shows achievements you have made, and make syou feel proud when you work twords a goal.

I think the rule of not asking has to do with humbleness. I think the best thing for people to do in a situation where they feel they are ready to test, but the sensei hasn't told them to, is to try casualy mentioning it to your sensei without coming right out and saying" Im ready for another rank. Say something like " Sensei, I was wondering what you look for when you grade people for (insert next rank up here) test?"

I think he will get the hint, even if it is indirectly and let you know when you are ready.

My 2 cents :)

I hope you do well on your 5th kyu test and I wish you the best of luck!

Jessica 02-17-2003 12:35 PM

Thanks for the input, I personally think that you should wait, it seems to me that if you wait until you are asked to test, you have earned the right to test (if that makes any sense)

Just my thoughts.

I hope you do well on your 5th kyu test and I wish you the best of luck!
Thanks :)

Kung Fu Liane 02-18-2003 05:16 AM

i think if a teacher knows their students, they will already know what level a student is at. actually taking the grading is a formality, a teacher has usually made up their mind whether a student will be given a grade, before they even start.

also, in my experience, teachers won't always make a student grade if they think they will fail, and it will demotivate them. however, some students need to be failed, in order to give them motivation.

where i study, we are pretty much told whether we will grade or not

it would be interesting to know whether other teachers do this also (maybe this should be a separate thread?)

otto 02-18-2003 08:11 AM


Liane Guillou wrote:
however, some students need to be failed, in order to give them motivation.

hummmm...have you been talking to my sensei??? :disgust:

Now seriously , what if your sensei ask you to test , and you decline??

Would that be disrecpectful?

Plus KI!

aikido_fudoshin 02-18-2003 08:42 AM

We dont test much at our dojo. If we do test, then it is seen as a reward for your hard work and dedication to the dojo. No one asks to be tested because no one really cares about rank. Everyone that comes to our dojo will soon realize this and they all find that their enthusiasm for learning Aikido and perfecting their own and others is a much better mindset to focus on.

Kung Fu Liane 02-18-2003 08:52 AM

Otto - i take it you had a bad grading experience? still, i'll bet you'll be ready when next time comes :)

happysod 02-18-2003 09:39 AM

This one is so dependent on the association/dojo it's almost impossible to generalise. However, I've yet to hear of any sensei who would be put out if you asked their opinion of how you're progressing in your aikido and this should give you an idea of when you'll next grade.

If your current dojo is of the "when the spirit moves" style and all information is handed down from on high with little input from the students, just finesse the beggers with respectful questions and attentive listening.

Good luck in the grading (I personally avoid the things at all costs)

adriangan 02-18-2003 09:01 PM

Re: When to test

Jessica Smith (Jessica) wrote:
Recently, my sensei told me that I'd be testing for 5th kyu at the end of Feb.

That got me thinking, some articals I have read say that you should ask your sensei if you can test, when you feal ready. Others say that you should wait until your sensei says you are ready.

I was wondering what peoples' thoughts were about this.


isn't it better if your sensei says that you are ready rather than asking your sensei if you are ready. because your sensei wouldn't bring up the topic if he/she thinks you weren't ready.

Kelly Allen 02-20-2003 12:49 AM

When my sensei told me he was testing for 5th kyu at such and such a time I thought that I wasn't ready. He told me that I was and that the test was more a formality. During the test I fumbled through the technics in a nervous stupor. Sensei passed me even though I didn't feel good about it. Two weeks later I began to preform the technics with a lot more confidence. I don't relish the idea of the next test although I feel I'll probably be more ready for it this time.

cindy perkins 02-22-2003 12:55 PM

This one's really tough for me. Sensei wears a white belt, as does his very skilled senior student. (Ours is a very small dojo.) He explained on our first day that he was not particularly interested in ranks and belts, that he had a second dan black, but what really matters is the learning -- you are always learning. I certainly agree. I am surprised and pleased that every week I learn a little more about doing tenkan!

But I also figured out after a while that I wanted to be tested. I think it is because I make progress so very slowly. Sometimes I wonder if I am learning at all. To hear from Sensei that I might be able to test within the next few months would seem a huge accomplishment! So I asked him, and he said he is willing to do a test when I am ready. That isn't now, and that's fine. I never want a rank I don't thoroughly deserve.

At first I admired the disinterest in ranks. Then I found I wanted one, and I feel like that is an ego flaw. When I mentioned it to Sensei, he wondered if perhaps his disinterest is associated with having earned several black belts (and all the ranks preceding), so it's old hat to him. No virtue, but over-familiarity.

What do you all think?

Bogeyman 02-22-2003 10:43 PM

I have found that since I got my shodan my rank has mattered less to me. When I was asked to testfor nidan I did it mainly because my sensei asked me to. I would test again if my sensei asked but not because I feel that I want it or should have it. I would encourage any students that I train with to test when asked because I feel that the testing procedures help them improve in the art regardless of their rank.


Amelia Smith 08-04-2003 03:24 PM


I just tested for my sho dan on Friday, at summer camp, and I have been told by many people that I had a very good test. :D

In principle it might be best for the teacher to determine when students are ready to test, but some teachers are not very good at (or interested in) determining their students' progress. Other teachers only notice certain of their students. If I had waited for my current regular teacher to tell me I was ready to test I probably would have waited forever. :grr: To the best of my knowledge, he has never told anyone to test, and as a result many people in our dojo didn't test for many years and are very experienced for their rank. As long as they stay in our small dojo, that's not an issue.

I have practiced at other dojos (fairly briefly) where I could imagine the sensei encouraging students to test. I have generally asked about testing (except maybe for 4th to 2nd kyu, when I was practicing at a large dojo and had a paralyzing shyness of speaking to the sensei), and I have always tested with more than the required number of hours and prepared for the test outside of regular class.

I guess what I'm saying is that given the imperfections of individual teachers, glitches in comunication, and dojo politics, people have to sometimes make testing descisions more or less from themselves, but take input from senseis and sempai.


rachmass 08-04-2003 03:45 PM

Hey Amelia,

It was great seeing you test at Summer Camp!

I agree with you in part about taking things into your own hands, but only in part. Sometimes the teacher has a reason for holding the student back, and sometimes it is purely forgetfulness or some personal thing. It really depends on how long the student is waiting. I have a friend who trained very diligently for at least 8 years and had not tested for shodan, when everyone else in the dojo was testing around 4-5 years. The teacher said that this fellow was just "not ready", but at at least 1,000 training days, I think he should have had a chance to show whether he was or not. Then again, I wasn't the teacher and had no say. It would be nice to know what the teacher was really thinking though, and why this fellow wasn't ready.

Dave Miller 08-04-2003 03:55 PM

Time requirements:
Not everyone likes the time requirements on rank testing but I personally think it's a good idea. Afterall, gaining rank as a budoka is more than just skill mastery, it's also an issue of maturity. If it were just learning stuff and then regurgitating it for a group, it'd be much easier. It's the whole maturity thing that makes it harder, and better.

Just my $.02 worth,

Charles 08-08-2003 11:52 AM

When I first started training in Aikido I was expecting someone to invite me to test when I was good enough. People would join the dojo, test and be promoted but not me. I'd put them on my left when we sat in ranks and then move them to my right as soon as they out ranked me. Just about the time that I was starting to get discouraged I discovered, by chance, that they were expecting me to be logging in my time. Alas, I also came down with the flu. I then discovered that the testing master at my dojo has a very strict understanding of the time and training requirements. If you stop for a moth or so you go back to zero. It took me four years to make sixth kyu and it's been fifteen months since then and I've recently been told that I don't meet the requirements to test for fifth kyu at the end of this month. I may not be learning Aikido but I'm starting to understand patience.

So, I would certainly encourage everybody to ask to test. It couldn't hurt.

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