Re: promotion test
You are right. I heard somebody say black belt is the beginning, too. In fact, was that somebody probably me?
The black belt doesn't guarantee the holder's skills. It just shows that he/she passed the test some time somewhere. There are tens of thousands of people who have been practicing for ten years, twenty years or more after they got their black belts. To become a shodan means you can make up your mind to keep improving your Aikido for the rest of your life. (Naturally you don't have to.)
By the way, our Fuchu Dojo in Tokyo celebrated its 5th anniversary last Sunday, Sept. 23rd.
The dojo started in March, 2002, and since then it has been flourishing. We had the first kuro-obi (black belts) in 2006 and now there are six of them, and many cha-obi(brown belts) and shiro-obi(white belts) are following. This is because of our master's excellent lessons. We all are grateful to our techer for the improvement of our techniques. He is really a great master.
150 people participated in the Enbu-kai (Demonstrations) and 100 people attended the party after that. We held the party in our dojo of 42 tatami-mats, putting more than 20 low-legged tables, around one of which four or five people sat, and therefore there was not much space for walking around while drinking and eating. But somehow we had a nice time with dojo-cho(head master) and his wife, his son, vice head master and his wife and their daughter, and our teacher and his wife, and then the members from other Kobayashi dojos present. It wa s typical Kobayashi Dojos' celebration. I saw the entire Kobayashi family for the first time!
Kobayashi Dojo-cho is becoming a legendary figure.
We started the demonstrations at 2 p.m. at a stage in a nearby building. It lasted two hours. And then we moved back to our dojo and started the party for which the people of our dojo had prepared the previous afternoon and evening.
We started it at 5 p.m. with a commemorative speech by the dojo-cho and with the toast by the vice-dojocho. We ended it at 7 p.m. as a formality so that people from distant places could go home, but actually after that many remained and it lasted until 9. I got drunk and everybody got drunk. We really had a nice time. Dojo-cho was so happy and he signed his name on the commemorative T-shirts sold at the party.
Many people drank a lot of beer and sake and ate sushi to celebrate the anniversary.
Finally we closed the party with the auspicious 3-3-4 hand clapping.