Re: Poll: How long do you think a shodan exam in aikido should take?
I'll take somwhat of a contrarian viewpoint. As a preface, my longest test was nidan, and I demonstrated I think pretty much everything. It was probably 30 minutes worth including the randori.
Everything Ed has said is true. In our school, we don't just leave it up to the student, particularly at the low kyu levels to get ready. So when they test, they (hopefully) are demonstrating and not being suprised by anything. It is also true that the tester or testers at the Shodan and above level have a fair idea of the ability of the testees before the actual test.
That all said, I have witnessed several tests where the students obviously did not know individual called technique and only their randori saved them (and if they were males, it was more an exhibition of strength). I have also witnessed the converse where the candidate did well on called techniques and faltered on randori. That is in some cases more forgiveable I think.
I believe that aikido like other arts to a greater or lesser extent suffers from "promotion gifting". A sensei wants their student to keep coming so they push them up even if they are quite not ready. (Yeah I know no one will admit to this but I've seen it more than once, and I know some of you have too...)
Particularly at Dan levels where you may later be expected to teach, I think you do need to demonstrate well-done called techniques. These should take a while to cover the repitore. You should be expected to demonstrate good ukemi, again since you may be called upon later to teach that. And finally you should be expected to demonstrate both jyu-waza and randori. That all should take a while. You should be made to feel that you are EARNING your rank. Of course extraordinary age or health circumstances may modify those criteria some. I'm fifty now, and if I test for sandan in a few years, I hope I can demonstrate what I have just described to the best of my ability. No one really WANTS to feel deep down in their heart that they didn't really earn the rank I hope...