Re: Could a child fail a grading?
In our dojo, we only allow children to test that we are going to pass. [Our children's program is ages 5 to 12]. The "test" is just an affirmation of age-adjusted demonstrated skills and etiquette that we know the student to have already demonstrated in training. If they are not ready from observation, they are not allowed to test. Some kids take it as a "failure" if they are deemed not ready. We don't believe in humiliating a child by allowing them to FAIL a belt test. This, of course, causes us to cringe and pass or at worst "probationly pass" a child who really should have "failed" sometimes.
This is an edited excerpt of an email I sent to the parents of our after school program...
"Aikido belt testing can be fun, stressful and challenging where students are able to show what they have learned in front of parents, instructors and fellow students. Some students will shine, many will just muddle through and others will surprise. Aikido training and practice is a highly individual process and is not intended to be competitive. Students can gain widely different things from participation in training and so belt testing is simply one measure of progress. The benefits of training include improved coordination, mindfulness, confidence, awareness of others and the ability to work in pairs and groups with others of all abilities and skill. Aikido training and practice is always tailored to the existing abilities and skill of the students present in class regardless of their current ranking. Advanced and basic concepts are taught simultaneously to allow all students to be challenged and improve."
"The test requirements for the ...[lower belts]... are not intended to be particularly difficult and being that these are relatively young children, the testing committee obviously doesn't hold these students to an unreasonable standard of performance. Aikido, however, does require a minimum standard of etiquette (behavior) adjusted for the student's age, personality and temperament. Students who continually have not met the minimum standard of etiquette will not be allowed to test. Please keep in mind that the... [higher belts]... do require a higher standard of technique performance and etiquette and so students that [instructors do not] feel will be able to meet the minimum standards will be required to wait until the next testing period. This is not meant as punishment nor an indication that the student cannot improve. Students are expected to learn at their pace and can achieve rank as they merit. Undeserved ranking is counterproductive to the learning process and environment."