David Ellard wrote:
For me personally i've also found recently that the focused work i put in before my 1 kyu exam has reflected well on my Aiki in general... It's certainly helped eliminate some "fluffy" elements that has slipped in...
For those that favour testing or gradings (and I'm one of them) this is one of the benefits that they give.
Without the pressure of some form of test its all to easy to tread water.
Once you've made an improvement to reach a grading standard then usually you don't slip back too far when training returns to normal post-testing.