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Anonymous 10-20-2004 09:42 AM

Grading question advice please
 
HI all

I have been training since Febuary this year 3 times a week. A couple of months ago grading came up in general conversation with sensei after class. I was told by sensei that I am more than ready for my first grading yet it is now the middle of September nearly 8 months and I still have not been graded. I am feeling kinda fed up. I am unsure whether to ask sensei whether I am to be graded or not. I feel that either I am really crap or sensei has forgotten about me. After all I am training to achieve goals that I have set my self and feel that I am not getting anywhere.

Could I have some honest opinions please.

suren 10-20-2004 01:42 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
I don't know why you haven't been graded, but I would definitely remind sensei about that. Maybe you are training in a big dojo where it's difficult to keep track of studen't attendance, or maybe your sensei pays little attension to grading overall. In any case I would ask him to grade me if I'm ready. In the worst case he will say you are not ready yet.
In my case sensei told me the day I were to be graded and I felt kinda not enthusiastic about it because that means less experienced guys will now train with most experienced ones and after the test I'm not the least experienced anymore :)) That sucks! I'm just an egoist, you see.

Pauliina Lievonen 10-20-2004 01:53 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Have there been gradings after that conversation? In our dojo, we only have gradings maybe three times a year, and it could easily happen that someone takes their first grading after 8 months or even more. If there have been gradings in the meantime, it would indeed sound more like your sensei maybe forgot about you, or changed his mind for whatever reason.

Maybe you could sound out a sempai first about how gradings are generally done at your dojo? At some places it's not considered appropriate to ask to be graded, but that varies from dojo to dojo.

kvaak
Pauliina

Bronson 10-20-2004 02:01 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

Pauliina Lievonen wrote:
Maybe you could sound out a sempai first about how gradings are generally done at your dojo? At some places it's not considered appropriate to ask to be graded, but that varies from dojo to dojo.

I'd agree Pauliina. In our paricular dojo we don't ask to grade. If we did we would probably be passed over for that grading cycle. The closest we can really get is asking what we should work on to be included in the next round of grading.
Conversely I know there're instructors in our association who want their students to ask. Find out from a sempai how it works in your dojo and proceed from there.

Bronson

suren 10-20-2004 02:12 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

Bronson Diffin wrote:
In our paricular dojo we don't ask to grade. If we did we would probably be passed over for that grading cycle.
Bronson

Unfortunately this trick to postpone a grading would not work with my sensei :D He allowes us to ask any question and he is disappointed only when we don't get his answers.

Neil Mick 10-20-2004 04:50 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

HI all

I have been training since Febuary this year 3 times a week. A couple of months ago grading came up in general conversation with sensei after class. I was told by sensei that I am more than ready for my first grading yet it is now the middle of September nearly 8 months and I still have not been graded. I am feeling kinda fed up. I am unsure whether to ask sensei whether I am to be graded or not. I feel that either I am really crap or sensei has forgotten about me. After all I am training to achieve goals that I have set my self and feel that I am not getting anywhere.

Could I have some honest opinions please.
Speaking from 20+ years as an Aikidoist: rank is not some gold-star you get for doing your time, and dedication. Rank is awarded because Sensei thinks you're ready to accept the new challenges and responsibilities, that that ranking demands.

It's not even a measure of proficiency. I've trained with some yudansha who, I felt: barely deserved 4th kyu (of course, I kept my opinions to myself...who am I, to question that person's Sensei, in her/his choice?).

My advice to you? it depends upon your Sensei. If he's approachable to discussion about it: talk about your feelings of frustration in being told you're ready to test, and then having to wait 8 months.

At all costs, tho: do NOT approach your Sensei with the attitude that "I did my time: now gimme my kyu." Traditionally, the time to test is solely the decision of the Sensei, and to suggest otherwise is very, very poor etiquette.

BUT; to go to Sensei and talk about your feelings of frustration over being told you're ready, and then left alone...well, IMO: that IS a legitimate point.

One thing, tho: rank is not an indicator of achieving "goals" in Aikido. Setting goals (e.g., can I improve my tenkan? can I learn all 13 kumitachi bokken katas? Can I perform a breakfall without feeling pain?) is your own, personal quest, and is an internal process. Sensei/other doka can help you get closer to your goals, but rank, in relation to your goals, means nothing.

Hope that this helps.

Anonymous 10-20-2004 05:02 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Well thanks for getting back and giving me your honest opinions. I am reluctant to ask for the simple reason that I myself would feel that I was being disrespectful to my sensei.

My daughter who also attends the club but at an earlier time has allready been awarded her yellow belt and she only does 2 hrs a week and has been attending for less time than me. I think I will just wait and see what happens. I have kinda got addicted to aikido and am not the kinda person to quit so maybe I need approach this from another angle and try to get the grading question brought up again.

Thanks again everyone I have really appreciated all of your comments.

wxyzabc 10-20-2004 08:32 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Hey I know exactly how you feel. At my first dojo in Japan I wasn`t allowed to grade for 5th que for about a year...and I saw totally incompetent Japanese grading after maybe a month...or even people who hardly came to training (I was there all the time) be allowed to take higher grades :( in the end though the colour of your belt means nothing and dedication in training clearly shows on the mat. They can`t take your ability away from you :)

My situation was different but my advise would be to subtly ask the Sensei which techniques you will need to concentrate on for your first test...what he thinks you might need to work on. This could only help and wouldn`t be taken as being disrespectful i`m sure.

Good luck

Lee

PeterR 10-20-2004 08:57 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

Lee Price wrote:
Hey I know exactly how you feel. At my first dojo in Japan I wasn`t allowed to grade for 5th que for about a year...and I saw totally incompetent Japanese grading after maybe a month...or even people who hardly came to training (I was there all the time) be allowed to take higher grades

Frustrating isn't it. Depends on the place but it is expected in many places that foreigners will leave and others will see and judge their Aikido. The local Japanese will remain local.

Anony: talk to your sensei direct. Don't refer to what others have done (that doesn't matter) talk about what you think you are ready for and remind him of the conversation. He may be under the impression that grading isn't important to you.

Rocky Izumi 11-09-2004 09:53 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Sometimes I forget.

Sometimes we are just too busy.

Sometimes I think someone is ready to grade and they show me that they are not.

The fact that you had to ask this question shows me that you are not ready to grade.

kaishaku 11-10-2004 12:58 AM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
I've been confused about testing, myself. It was mentioned once or twice, but here I am, still unranked.

Then again, I guess the fact that I'm contemplating it shows that I'm not ready to grade.

PeterR 11-10-2004 01:20 AM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

Hiroaki Izumi wrote:
Sometimes I forget.

Sometimes we are just too busy.

Sometimes I think someone is ready to grade and they show me that they are not.

The fact that you had to ask this question shows me that you are not ready to grade.

Really and how do you know its not one of the first two possibilities.

We are talking about someone so fresh to Aikido that he has yet to grade asking a reasonable question. If he is not doing something right than he should be told what it is.

I think as we advance up the kyu and dan grades we should understand more of what is necessary technically but all this person is left with is confusion.

JJF 11-10-2004 01:46 AM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

Hiroaki Izumi wrote:
...The fact that you had to ask this question shows me that you are not ready to grade...

I think that's a very harsh attitude. In my opinion It's fair to be curious about the way things work, and it's also quite okay to feel the need for an evaluation. Especially for the early kyu grades some kind of appreciation of your progress is often need for people to stay in the game. Heck that's what they were created for.

That whole 'If you have to ask you are not ready' attitude has a a bit of a 'holier than thou' ring to it in my ears. It's so easy to speak of the virtues of patience once you have reached the destination yourself.

Before I get flamed - Yes I know that no grade is a destination in itself - only a step on an everlasting path - but especially the first steps in aikido need to be celebrated so that the student will begin to build the confidence so needed to progress further. Artificial confidence ? yes maybe, but when someone take something this difficult upon them to learn, then I believe they deserve some encouragement.

I think we should lighten up and answer the questions in stead of putting him down. And any dojo where you are not allowed to ask questions and discuss the issues that concern you is in my book a misguided place. I'm not saying that everything is open for debate but if there is no written rule about an issue so common as gradings, then at least you should be allowed to discuss it.

Just my 2 cents.

Now let's all go practice...

villrg0a 11-10-2004 02:50 AM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
At our dojo, we believe in time-in-grade. When you have completed your time, you will be tested 3X. If at first you failed, you still have 2 more chances left. If after the final you still failed, then you have to wait for the next period.

Regards!

gstevens 11-10-2004 09:41 AM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
First, I am not a yudansha, I am a 4th Kyu... So I have taken two tests in 10 months.

Ranking....I have been thinking about this for some time. Especially lately as we have just started out test prep month at my Dojo.

Testing or demonstrating (as I have heard that some Dojos do, but never experienced), seems to me to hold a couple of purposes that were not apparent to me when I started Aikido.

The first purpose for me is an even more intense focus than I normally have. I get a feeling that I have to be able to do techniques as well as I possibly can. Normally I put a lot of effort into my aikido, (I am there training as hard as I can every day that the dojo is open during the week), but around test time I train even harder, focus even harder, and generally train with one or two of my Sempai that I am going to have as Uke on my test. AND ONLY on those techniques on my test.

This focus on a limited (Remember I am still in the kyu ranks) number of techniques, is amazing. I can feel each of them change daily during the test prep month. The techniques that I start with, even if they were on the last test, feel nothing like the techniques that I end with. It is truly amazing!

The other thing that happens is that I begin to see the areas that I can't quite make work yet, (damn that nikyo hand change in the air!). This FOCUS, and Intensity on part of the whole of physical Aikido coupled with the little added stress that is doing the techniques in front of your sempai and kohai is very effective, I feel, in helping to grind the techniques for me, (I am no where near polishing them yet, still working on getting the slag ground off to find the metal underneath!).

For someone that generally is good at tests in the outside world, and rarely puts any thought into them, the tests in Aikido are very important to me, I worry and have anxiety about them well beyond anything else that I have done in outside the dojo.

Part of this stress, or anxiety for me is the thought that; I am going to be graded by someone, my sensei, that is awesome at the art. I know that he is going to see all the holes, and all the mistakes, some of which I am not even aware of yet. Also that the grading of the individual is really a grading of the whole dojo, did we all do our best as a community to make sure that the person being tested really is the best that we could help her be? When I have not tested, I have held my breath on the line, while the person testing did a technique which I knew they found difficult, and felt the release of everyone's breath around me when the test taker did it well.

As one of my Sempai said, "Don't we all feel that we are given a rank that we then have to grow into?"

The things that scare me most about going up the rank ladder are the ways that those that are your juniors look to you for advice, knowledge and support, when you KNOW you don't have perfect aikido, that you are doing things you know are not quite right, and hoping like hell that they don't see them and make your mistakes their mistakes....

Sorry if this was a little off topic...
Guy
:do:

Rocky Izumi 11-10-2004 12:20 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Sorry, didn't mean to sound like I was flaming anyone. The fact that the question is asked tells me that the person still has some questions about their ability in relation to the ability of others in the dojo. Furthermore, it tells me that the person is not sure about what is being recognized in the grading. The person must find out those things by 1) asking, 2) watching, 3) thinking, 4) reading, 5) deciding for themselves.

You can never solve a koan by focusing on the koan. You will understand it when you are enlightened. If you keep asking the question that the koan poses, you will never solve it. Ignore the question but keep it in the back of your mind and your everyday practice or living will answer the question for you as long as you live your life in a way that revolves around the question rather than trying to grasp it. It is like trying to get a mule into the corrall. pull the mule by its harness and it will never be put in. Ignore the mule and walk into the corrall and start doing your other work and it will come join you.

Like the rest of Aikido, if you make grading a competition with yourself or others in the dojo, or even your child, you will never succeed or succeed with great difficulty. Try not competing with yourself. Learned that lesson in trying to improve my golf game. I got away from competing with others and playing my own game. I lost it competing with myself and the course. I do much better when I just concentrate on my swings, stance, weight distribution, focusing on the ball, holding my stance, etc.

Again, I apologize if anyone took offense at the way I write. I am told that I do this often and make people feel that I am angry at them. If I am angry at anyone, I don't pay attention to their questions but rather ignore them. I only answer questions for those that deserve an answer.

Rocky Izumi 11-10-2004 12:28 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

Peter Rehse wrote:
Really and how do you know its not one of the first two possibilities.

We are talking about someone so fresh to Aikido that he has yet to grade asking a reasonable question. If he is not doing something right than he should be told what it is.

I think as we advance up the kyu and dan grades we should understand more of what is necessary technically but all this person is left with is confusion.

The first lesson in Budo is to learn to learn by observing rather than asking. If we become too lazy to find things out by observation and thinking, then we lose our abilities to learn by ourselves. A person who is thinking about testing fo Gokkyu should have about 1 to 2 years of experience in the dojo behind them if they are of the age to be able to learn through observation. Actually, I find that children are much better learners by observation than adults. Had a young 8 year old who was watching her father practice a while back. I watched after class when the two of them were playing together. The daughter was correcting the father on his technique. She didn't practice Aikido but was a great observer. I didn't even realize she was observing. I thought she was just playing her video game. She did a very good ushiro ryokatatori kotegaeshi on her father and corrected his feet movements. He looked at me and I just shrugged. She did it better than I could have.

Rock

Nick P. 11-10-2004 01:37 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

Hiroaki Izumi wrote:
The fact that you had to ask this question shows me that you are not ready to grade.

I could not agree more.

Show up. Practice. Go home. Repeat.

If your Sensei spontaneously gave everyone 3 ranks higher than they are now, it would change nothing.

Goals are good to have, but one of them should be to stop pursuing goals.

Good luck, though.

PS- I am in the opposite position; my Sensei wants me to test, but I am hesitant / reluctant / ambivelant. And for what it is worth, it's over a year overdue for shodan. Maybe I am just lazy.....

mj 11-10-2004 04:48 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
February to November deserves a grade, especially (no offence) a beginner.

Some of you, I am sure, would prefer the death penalty for disobediance from the poor person...who is not a poor man or poor woman coz he is anonymous.

er...she

Nick P. 11-10-2004 08:38 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

mark johnston wrote:
February to November deserves a grade, especially (no offence) a beginner.

I agree: February 2004 to November 2005 does deserve a grade.

Now you must excuse me while I sue my Sensei for not grading me for shodan with 5.5 years of training...'cuz I deserve it.

;)

Nick P. 11-10-2004 08:44 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
An apology on my part: I re-read the original post, and here is some advice.

Ask a senior student or the Sensei WHEN are tests normally done: once or twice a year at particular times of the year, or in "batches" of ready students?

That would go a long way in clarifying several points. And if you Sensei says "Your more than ready.", perhaps in their mind you are already on your way to the next kyu. Maybe he is even going to skip you forward one rank!

I still stand by my posts, though.

Rocky Izumi 11-10-2004 09:11 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

Nick Pittson wrote:

I still stand by my posts, though.

Ah so you do Plum Flower Post Kung Fu!

;)

anonymous 11-29-2004 04:43 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
he he I did'nt think this post was still going.

I still appreciate everyones input and I dont take any offence at any of the advice. Not even the riddles ( if you asked then you r not ready) I have decided that rank means absolutly nothing, it's the taking part, learning and sharing that is important. Not forgetting making friends. So lets not argue anymore remember we are all learning budo to become better persons.

Best wishes to all of you.

Jeanne Shepard 11-29-2004 06:45 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
I vote for just asking what the test policy is.

Jeanne :p

Rocky Izumi 11-30-2004 08:58 PM

Re: Grading question advice please
 
Quote:

he he I did'nt think this post was still going.

I still appreciate everyones input and I dont take any offence at any of the advice. Not even the riddles ( if you asked then you r not ready)
Damned those Zen koans, eh?

Rock :D


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