Re: Test Passing Standards - What is it?
So many issues encapsulated in one question...where to start?
Should there even be kyu/dan rankings in Aikikai Aikido? I am split in two directions here, myself, so maybe that is better left to another thread (which I am sure the topic has been covered).
Since there *are* kyu/dan ranks and testing:
Lately, I have been of the mind that testing in Aikido needs to have some kind of objective standard. How this is to be set, I have no idea. I have seen such a great disparity in ability between two Aikidoists of the same rank that it makes me wonder if this is good for the art. This especially happens when comparing/contrasting between different organizations, which is understandable given the history of how Aikido was taught by O-Sensei throughout the different phases of his life.
The bottom line: Not everyone can reach Shodan or above no matter if they practice for 10 years. Perhaps not everyone can reach nikyu even if they practice hard for 20 years. I am thinking that if a person cannot meet the standards of a certain rank then they should not be allowed to pass that test, even if they can "go through the motions" and do all the techniques. There is a big difference between actually being able to make a person move and just going through the motions. The Dojo-cho should know the difference.
I read an interesting article a while ago with a Naginata teacher and she talked about modern martial arts and the concept of advancing in the art. She said that nowadays people have this idea that martial arts/budo is like an escalator and that, as long as they get on, they will reach the top. But, imo, this should not be the case. Not everyone can reach the top because not everyone has the same abilities or dedication. This doesn't mean that Aikido isn't for everyone, it is. However, one person might peak at Ikkyu while another reaches Godan.
Now, many people might say, "If I have been practicing hard for 10 years and my Sensei tells me I am still not ready to test for Shodan (or whatever rank) I'd quit!" This, of course, would be the indication of wrongful thinking and bad attitude. Because, If you think about it, no matter what rank you achieve, the training is the same (you just can't go to yudansha seminars). This is when one must ask themselves the question, "Do I love Aikido, the art, or the idea of wearing a black belt and hakama?" Also, this way everyone will have a more realistic understanding of their abilities in regards to their budo. This may be bad for business but serious budo and money never mix well.
I realize that Shodan is "just the beginning" but it is a serious rank and should be treated as such. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get there. It should be worth it.