Re: Howdy from a Chicago Aikikai student.
Thanks for the replies! My lame excuses for not testing have been (in no particular order):
1. I'm here for the training, not for some "badge of honor". It's about process for me, not product.
2. Every time I start to build momentum in my training, I'm called away for a while, so I honestly don't know how much I've learned.
3. I don't feel that I've gotten a systematic training in the basics enough to do these tests. What are all these Japanese words???
Maybe I'm maturing, or maybe I'm just tired of making the excuses, but I'm realizing that although each of those is true in some ways (I AM about _process_, my training schedules have been irregular, and I've gotten a much better training in principles of aikido technique than the vocabulary), they are all forms of excuses I've used throughout my life to keep from being "tested". The sporadic training was a choice, the lack of investigating the terms for things was a choice, and the baggage I've put on "ranking systems" is my own. I've always had a knack for almost anything I put my mind to... and I've never worked hard enough to be stellar at anything. I've always liked being a "jack of all trades", but I'm looking at that behavior more critically now.
I think at the heart of this behavior is a fear of SOCIAL FAILURE, rather than fear of any particular thing that may go wrong in the test. The scariest part of Aikido and Iaido training were, and still are, the etiquette, unfamiliar rituals, and unwritten rules. I often feel as though I'd rather get punched in the head than fail to do the "correct etiquette". Funny thing to realize after all this time, how much fear of "shame" has informed my choices. I suspect I'm not alone in that.
So now I'm choosing to face it. I'm preparing for my first test, which I've just discovered is less than a month away. Fortunately, I have a very generous sempai who is helping me face it by alternating between informative training and mock-making. :-)
Terry, if I may ask, where and with whom did you take stage combat classes? It's a fairly small community, and it would be fun if it was someone I know.