Re: Frustration about testing
"I changed dojo when I was fourth kyu, and though I was allowed to keep my rank, I had to wait longer than usual to test for third kyu. "
Now that I am yudansha and take part in the day to day activities at the dojo, I often find myself speaking with prospective students. When they enter the dojo for the first time, people who have practiced other martial arts or even aikido at another school are often worried about keeping rank. We generally "allow" a person to keep rank (as if we had any way of not alllowing), but do not test a person for the next rank until we are satisified that they are ready. I don't mean that if you come in at 3rd kyu and put in the amount of time you test. I mean if you come in at 3rd kyu we work with you until we are in fact convinced you are 3rd kyu and are then ready for 2nd kyu.
A previous sensei discussed this very problem with me when we had a prospective student come in to the dojo. He insisted he had studied elsewhere and was ready to test for shodan. My instructor nodded his head and said that we would of course "allow" him his rank and as soon as he had mastered the techniques in the manner we performed them he could of course test. The student was pleased and left. My sensei explained that you should be able to tell "what color their belt is" even when they are not wearing it, even when they are not doing a martial art. You should be able to tell the prospective shodan when they walk in the door. And you should certainly be able to tell their rank when they step on the mat. He explained that the student that had just come in was not a prospective shodan, but that you cannot explain that to the student, they can only learn it for themselves. The student did sign up and take classes with us. He was loud about explaining that he was just waiting to take his shodan test for the first week or so, but then it was obvious to him, and everyone else that the 7th kyu knew more aikido than he did. Eventually he approached the sensei again and asked to start over as a white belt.
On theflip side, I have travelled to other dojo to work out and I never take my rank for granted. Most recently I went to a karate dojo with my step father. He wanted me to come in and see what how they practiced and introduce me to his sensei. We arrived early one Sunday morning, before the sensei, and got dressed. I left my black belt and hakama in my bag and donned a white belt, as I felt was proper. The sensei came in and class started immediately, with no introductions. We were barely through the warm ups, when he came over to me and said, "Are you a white belt?" I said, "in karate perhaps I am even less." He then told me it as obvious I was not a white belt, and that I should go and change to my black belt and rejoin class. After class he explained that he appreciated the gesture of the white belt, but he also felt that rank should be celebrated, even if it was a different art.
In our dojo, we have several people who have rank in other arts, and we try to acknowledge their rank, not from a kiss a$$ sort of way, but to acknowledge their experience and potential use to the dojo. I trained in TKD for a long time and have rank there. No one cares what color belt I have in TKD in my aikido dojo, but they know the can depend on me if the need someone to kick them. We try to embrace other styles as much as possible within the confines of aikido, but a black belt in shotokan may have no knowledge of the kind of blending, rolling and throwing we do in aikido, so when they are learning aikido they start at white belt.
Last edited by Derek : 05-26-2007 at 11:24 AM.