My dojo starts with 7th kyu. Smaller easier to accomplish jumps
It allows us to build ourselves up slowly and get used to testing. I don't think it lessens the impact of testing, but lets us learn early on that you never know what to expect.
I am now 6th kyu and am preparing for my 5th kyu test. Apparently I'm ready
We were talking about testing in the locker room the other day and I was corrected by my sensei. I said, in reference to 2 other students, that "they should test before I do". Sensei corrected me with "They test when we decide they are ready." It wasn't stern, but it was direct.
This gave me a new insight into testing though. Why should we get ourselves worked up over it. If our instructors didn't feel we were ready would we be invited to test? Taking that into consideration treat your tests like another class. Practice with joy and energy and you'll do wonderfully.
Back on thread:
7th Kyu - brand new world. Lots of push ups and sit ups to the point that you think you are exhausted. Technique beyond the point that you are exhausted. I could barely get up off the ground by the end of my first test. Then we had a sit down and discussed our personal motivations for practice.
6th Kyu - I thought I knew what was going to happen. I was wrong. I actually tested twice. The first was purely technical. Did I know the techniques required. I passed. Second test was with Roseberry Shihan. We covered etiquette till neither of us testing could recite anything new. Then we did a few techniques and a lot of randori. Then once again we sat down and discussed our personal motivations for practice.
In hind sight I think there were 3 tests. 1st being the technical test. 2nd being presented with the option to let that test stand as my test or to choose to test with Shihan. 3rd Shihan's test. Let me say this. Never pass up an opportunity to work with a shihan. It is always worth the time. Even if I hadn't passed my test it still would have been worth it. Just being in their presence you can learn volumes.