Advice for shodan test
Hello, I am new to this site and happy to see a nice online communtiy around Aikido.
I will be taking my shodan test sometime in the not-so-distant future, and I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to me.
Technically speaking, I'm pretty well prepared- my path to this point has been long and deliberate, and I've never been in a hurry to get promoted. I have been 1st kyuu for almost 2 years and I feel confident in my abillity (although I do hope to improve before test-time). I guess I'm wondering how to prepare for the occasion mentally.
I've gotten past thinking that having a blackbelt will somehow "complete" my training or "prove" my level of skill. I have been told that shodan is the true beginning of one's training. I don't know whether that is scary or comforting or both. I think maybe wearing a hakama is a sign of one's commitment to Aikido, and once I have one, I can no longer allow myself to just "get through" a training session, but I must strive to do my very best with every technique.
Also, I will have to get more serious about my dedication to the art and to my dojo. As a whitebelt, there have been times when I didn't train for over a month, and other periods where I would come in but only once or twice per week. As a blackbelt I should commit to a more steady regimen.
Sometimes I feel like I'm not ready for the responsibility, that I would like to be able to keep the excuse that I'm "just a whitebelt". Other times I feel like I'm way ahead of a lot of people at the shodan level. I know it's up to my sensei to determine my readiness, and I have spoken to him and others about it, but I'm interested in what folks on this forum think about this transition, and what being a blackbelt means to you.
Also two specific questions that have been bugging me:
I have always wanted to visit Japan and train at some specific dojos there. If I go as a shodan, will I have to "prove myself" on the mat more than I would as a whitebelt?
Once I have a blackbelt, is it too late to become an uchi-deshi?