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Old 09-16-2010, 09:13 AM   #26
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
Re: Testing before minimums???

Yeah, I can think of a number of students who started with lots of "natural" ability who never made it past low kyu or shodan-ish levels. The problem seems to be that being "naturally gifted" (whatever that might mean) often tends to mean the person never really develops any sort of deep understanding. So they're "good" as a kyu ranked folk go, but as things get more subtle they simply often never develop the skills. Natural fluidity, speed, flexibility, strength, body awareness are all great things to have. And in the beginning those things go a long way to making things seem "easy". Unfortunately that's not the "meat" of this skill (or most any non-trivial activity). It still comes down to devoting the hours, struggling, learning, and keeping all those things going as you get deeper down the rabbit hole.

Now if you're talking about a "naturally gifted" person with an inquisitive mind and strong work ethic who is able to "stick it out" you have a really powerful combination of things.

Anyway, my advice is to simply say that rising up quickly is rarely a good measure of future performance. Often the best measure of future performance is the level of dedication, practice and quality of instruction you had to get there in the first place.

What matters is how far you are willing or able to take it. And neither is a given regardless of natural ability.

Finally... If in your org it's up to your sensei to ask you to test, test when your sensei says so. Say "Hai, sensei" and do your best. The details of when/how/why are up to your teacher and should be the last thing you should be focusing on.

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