Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?
I like the preparation time. We had two shodan tests this fall, and the whole dojo learned a lot from trying to help out. Even the low kyu ranks pitched in, stretched their ukemi skills, polished up their Japanese, looked in bewilderment at taigi we won't see again for years....
I also love the social aspect of the tests--people make an effort to come out for them, it's a big event. My enthusiasm for aikido was really spurred by the event that included my fifth kyu test--there were people testing for every rank up through first kyu, and it was so cool to see an entire progression from "Hey, maybe I could do that" to "Holy shit!" I think surprise tests would miss out on having such a good group energy. Most evenings, we have only 4-7 students in the dojo. I guess I'm enough of a ham to want a bigger audience; and enough of a junkie not to want to miss anyone else's test, ever!
And anyway, it's going to take the pressure of an announced testing date to get anyone to work on kata tori yonkyo tenkan, which is on my next test (third kyu) and which is rather an unloved throw. (My co-workers asked some anxious questions about the big purple bruises, last time.)