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Old 04-15-2014, 11:17 PM   #6
Adam Huss
Adam Huss's Avatar
Location: Ohio
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 699
Re: Test Grading, Curriculum, & Frustration

What organization are you associated with (if you feel comfortable saying, maybe you have brethren here that can help)?

I am from a small federation of around 30 dojo. We have two styles of aikido in our group with two different curriculum. Most dojo try to have their black belt tests conducted at one of our seminars throughout the year (though that doesn't always happen, of course). Our two directors realize the curriculum may be interpreted, or executed, with some variance as we have dojo spread around the US and Canada. We have an annual instructors seminar where emphasis is placed on fleshing out standardized kihon waza - but not everyone can make it, and we can't cover everything. Our national director's biggest emphasis is on standardization within our particular dojo, or region. So long as all the instructors are teaching "kihon waza: ryo katatori tenchinage" the same way, he is happy. If one of our students tests at a national seminar and does something different than what the grading senior is used to, all that student has to do is know why he is doing it that way - basically can that student explain the why's and how's of that particular technique variation? If so, he's good. If the seniors aren't satisfied, or want to see something else, that student's dojo cho will be told after all testing is complete and they have their senior instructors meeting.

For example: the above-mentioned technique was talked about last instructors seminar. We were talking about the kihon tenkan variation. Some people were doing an immediate pivot on contact, while others were doing a cross-step pivot. Our director explained both ways were correct, so long as everyone within that dojo were taught in a congruent way, so as not to confuse or frustrate newer students. The whole point of doing this? When we all get together at these national seminars, the federation directors can observe how all the different people from the various dojo are doing things, and adjust fire from there during instructors seminars. Particularly if you come from a larger group, I would imagine the seniors there recognize the "telephone game" factor in a martial art as dynamic as aikido, and would take that into account when you test.

Pretty much most seminar yudansha gradings I've seen, the candidates are testing in groups (depending on a lot of factors), and aren't really bothered during the actual test. My group also requires the candidate to teach a technique, submit an essay, and endure oral examination. During that time, the student may be asked about why he or she did certain things...but generally I can't see anyone holding something like you doing an archaic variation of a basic technique against you. Especially if your fundamentals are sound and you can explain why you did what you did.

TL;DR You're probably good, bro. :0)

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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