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Old 03-07-2006, 02:55 PM   #10
Dojo: Aikido Goshin Dojo
Location: Doral
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 97
Re: Test Passing Standards - What is it?

I really don't agree with this testing. I don't consider that a one-day test can be used to evaluate your skills/improvement in Aikido. I think every class is a test and you just learn.
I specially don't agree with the testing system with the fact that ALMOST no one ever fails the test, so you can see shodan, nidan, sandan, or higher degrees don't don't know what they do, and have less knowledge than a kyu grade (not all, but too many). But they passed the test...
I even find ridiculous that a teacher that watches his students all the time, all the classes, and--if he/she is a good teacher-- trains as uke and tori with them, needs one special day to see their students improvement.
Or this situation is worst, the sensei who comes once in a while, and who only watches the test and judges from watching. It doesn't matter how big a sensei one is, you can't judge just by looking.
Would be different if this sensei who comes once in a while trains with a person and then judges him or her. Then he/she can properly evaluate the student, but not from sitting in one corner and just looking at an exam.

So belts, degrees means nothing. What you do is what counts.
Now that I teach, I see three 'levels' (to call it some way):
1 you're just a student. (wearing white belt, because you have to wear something)
2 you're a student who teaches (at least one class), under the supervision of the "main" teacher of the dojo. (wearing black belt and hakama)
3 You're ready to open your own dojo with no supervision. (keep the black belt and hakama if you like. it's your dojo now. You make the rules)

I see my students every class, train with them every class (as uke and tori) and evaluate them every class. I won't need a special TEST/EXAM to see how are they doing. I'll see how they progress in every class.
When I consider he/she has achieved some advanced level, I'll ask him/her to teach at least one class in my dojo under my supervision. At that moment I'll also ask him/her to wear a black belt and a hakama. Once I consider he/she doesn't need my supervision to teach anymore, I'll let him/her know that under my judgment he/she is ready to open her own dojo.

Now in all these 3 'levels' you're always learning, even when you have your own dojo, you can learn from your students, from other instructors, from other students, from other arts. You never stop learning.

Just to clarify,
I didn't say that everyone ALWAYS passes the test. So I have also seen a few people fail their tests, but the problem is that MOST people that pass the test are not ready, and don't have the technical skill to pass. At least from my point of view, which could be wrong for other people, but is my opinion.
This situation is even more troublesome from shodan up, where you see so may people not ready (technically, understanding of principles, madurity, etc..) to be a shodan or higher, but they pass the test anyway; thus so many high ranks with poor technique.
Also, I didn't say students should not be evaluated. I said evaluation is a process that begins on the first day of training. Every class, every technique should be an evaluation. Instructors should train with their students, as uke and tori, and evaluate his/her progress in every moment.
So if after, for example, 4 years of constant evaluation, in which the instructor have seen in every class the progress of a student, Why would it be necessary a 20-minutes, 30-minutes, or 1-hour test? You've evaluated him/her for 4 years, why would you need a test? I think you should already know what level/degree/rank (whatever you wanna call it) he/she is in.
Now the idea that a test puts 'pressure' on the student, and he/she needs to work under that 'pressure'. Which is true, but I think is a 'meaningless kind of pressure', just to show that you can comply with some 'requierements', but is not the kind of 'pressure' that is going to make you a better martial artist.
I think training, not with the goal of achieving a belt, or passing a test, or having a rank, just training to be better, wiithout expecting other kind of reward but the fact of improving your technique, and the fact taht some day you'll be ready to share what you have learned with others, that makes you a better martial artist.
It's just my opinion

Bratzo Barrena
Aikido Goshin Dojo
Doral, FL
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