Originally posted by MaylandL
When I came to that realisation, the aikido got a little more fluid and natural and I got to enjoy doing aikido for its own sake and not for getting a shodan.
You're right on that one. When I was beginning in aikido, I was way too much concentrated on "doing things right for the exams". Last summer, I had no grade to pass. I simply practice aikido for the sake of it, having fun, without putting pressure on myself to perform well in face of examiners. Guess what ? I progressed much more rapidly than before. My sensei even note it and tells me, at the end of summer, that it was hard to believe that I was the same guy than 3 months before. Moves and techniques were simply more naturals and fluids. Now I simply practice that way all the time and exams are now not much different than regular class, you simply have people watching you and that's all...