Hi, friends, me again.
I've mentioned here and there that I'll be taking my 5th kyu test in September. Having just seen a 5th kyu test, I'm not worried about passing it at all; I can't wait!
That bothers me a bit.
Actually, 'bothers' is too strong a word, by far. Maybe 'confuses' is better. Aikido testing practices have been in place a long time; they obviously work very well.
Still, when I watched the students performing the 4 required techniques, I couldn't help thinking to myself 'these people PASSED doing it that way?' Their technique were extremely stiff, slow, hesitant. Even to a neophyte like me, there was no evidence of Ki being used. To be frank, they looked like mannequins up there.
Now; I'm not saying anything bad about the students; they've done something I haven't. But when I asked my instructor about it later, she told me that yes, their technique was pretty poor, but that's to be expected for a 5th kyu test.
It may be my own contrary nature, but that answer bothered me a bit. It was like saying '5th kyu is the lowest test, so its not important to actually be able to DO the technique, just to know of it.'
My question is, therefore, what's the point of a test if you know you're going to pass it?
See, when I stand up for mine, I want to have to demonstrate that I know the techniques. I want to be able to glide gracefully into Katate-kosa-tori Koyu-nage Irimi Tobikome like the grownups do. When I perform the Katate-tori ikkyos irimi and tenkan, I want uke to go DOWN - not to lower himself obligingly to the mat. I want to know that I can do those techniques like an aikido practicioner should.
In short, I want a hard test. Hard, that is, for my level. I want to sweat with nerves and anticipation the night before, knowing that everything I've done the past few months has led up to this point. When I pass, I want the feeling to be "YES!!!", not "OK, what's next?"
It'd be great if, after performing the required techniques, one of my examiners said "OK, Dave - Show us your 2 favourite techniques that we haven't covered, please." (THAT would make for a good test, I bet.
I like to think that I'm spoiled at our dojo - we beginners have 3 fantastic instructors, but so of course do most dojos. So why is the testing so easy? In my experience as an instructor in various fields outside Aikido, making a test too easy is a sign that you want a student to pass regardless of his or her ability. Without the very real possibility of failure, "Good enough" becomes good enough, if you follow me. The strive for excellence becomes unneccessary. To be totally honest, while I love Aikido and struggle day by day to get better at it, (it's the struggle that's fun - you may have already guessed that I like it hard. LOL) I don't really want to wait for my shodan test for it to become difficult. A beginner is a beginner, true, but this beginner wants to know how to do Aikido - not just to pass the test.
Thanks for reading this, friends, hope you can give some good insight.