Shodan is another start of Aikido?
I went to the keiko on Sunday. We have one session of keiko on Sunday, which starts at 11 a.m. and lasts 90 minutes. There were more than twenty people there in the 42 tatami-mat dojo. We sat and lined up along the straight line which the edges of the tatami mats made on the opposite side of the dojo facing the photo of O'Sensei.
We practiced techniques for ushiro-ryote-dori (both hads grabbed from behind). First irimi-nage, then kote-gaeshi, nikyo, several kinds of kokyu-nage. Then we were told to grab our partner's elbows from behind to practice ushiro-ryohiji-dori kotegaeshi. They were all techniques to be tested on the shodan promotion test.
Our dojo, one of the branch dojos of the Kobayashi Dojo, started in March five years ago and it is now in the sixth year. The sensei started with beginners, all of them. I also started Aikido with no class, just a white belt beginner.
In the fifth year, last November, the very first black belt was given to one of the members who started at about the same time as I did. He passed the promotion test and began wearing a hakama.
Then on the March promotion test, another member passed the shodan test and he also began wearing a hakama.
Now There are two black belts, five or six brown belts, and many white belts in our dojo. Our sensei says that you can get the black belt in three years, but it is from his viewpoint and experience of having trained since childhood. For me without any experience of martial arts, everything was new and still many are new and it is not so easy to master one technique completely. Making an excuse in that way, I have come a long way, from the seven-kyu to the ikkyu rank. Now I am practicing for the kuro-obi (black belt) and hakama, but I am practicing for the sake of keiko, too. Am I lying to myself in this? I don't know. Instead I think that having the black belt is another beginning of Aikido. You will practice after getting shodan far longer than you have practiced for the black belt and hakama, ten years fifteen years and in many case twenty years. So I would like to put on a hakama to start a new beginning. (But it is also possible that I fail in the test. In such a case, it is shikataga-nai (can't be helped). I will try one more time.) Anyway, there is no difference whether I am ikkyu or shodan in the sense that I will keep practicing for further more years until I find myself very difficult to do ukemi.