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Old 03-27-2007, 08:32 AM   #5
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,614
Re: To Test, or not to Test

I only reply because I have not had your experience. I have never trained in Japan, so I can't comment on that. In the states, I have only tested under the Doshinkan / Yoshinkan system, so I can't really say how common it is. My first instructor in this organization was sansei...the head instructor is Japanese.

At my first Aikido dojo, the only way to get tested was to be really chummy with a senior student.
This has not been my experience at all.

If you were lucky, they'd take you under their wing and give you a couple private 5 minute lessons before class.
Since we typically have set testing days about 2 months or so apart, everyone knows when the tests are, and the last 2 weeks before the test everyone who participates in regular or advanced training does test techinique preparation. Seniors are paired with juniors often, and everyone works on the waza for their level. For some tests (usually around 3rd to 1st kyu out of 9), a specific senior is more or less assigned to you as your uke and they work with you in specific preparation for your tests. This can include training before and after class, as well as during the test technique classes.

After that, at sensei's discretion, you might be asked to test at some point in the future, but for me, after about 6 years, that point had still never come.
I can't imagine this happening where I have trained. Is this the same for everyone else in that dojo? Have you thought to look at yourself as critically as you seem to look at others?

At my second dojo, the only way to test was attend as many seminars as possible (to show your devotion) and then again hope and pray that some day sensei would notice you and ask you if you wanted to test.
While seminars are a part of some of our test requirements, I have not found it to be excessive or prohibitive. Ususally 1 seminar since the last test period, or for some of the higher ranks, perhaps 2 or 3. But it is clearly spelled out in the dojo handbook along with ALL of the requirements for each rank. The head instructor or senior students might also prompt you to simply submit your minimal paper work for testing to the office.

After a couple years, I still hadn't been asked to test.
Again, I am amazed.

Personally, I dislike testing or performing in front of a group. Just not my favorite thing to do. But as testing and the preparation process is one of the things that cements relationships in the dojo (and because I like anyone else have an ego and want to advance), I have tested, both at my own initiative, and when asked. I must admit that at one time I avoided testing like the plague, even disappearing if it seemed like people wanted me to test (not in the Doshinkan but at other dojo before this).

But hey, to each his own...

The actual test was simply a formality (no seminars required).
I forgot to comment on this earlier. In the Doshinkan, you can indeed fail a test. While it is considered a formal occasion, it is not guaranteed that you will pass, and I have failed tests myself. I kind of like that...if there is no possibility of failing, I wonder why it would be called a "test"...perhaps "demonstration" would be a better choice of words. I have had tests of that nature in a branch / independant dojo...I have no problems with that.


Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 03-27-2007 at 08:41 AM.

Ron Tisdale
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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