Re: Poll: How often do you get to choose your uke(s) for your rank testing at your aikido dojo?
I've seen this creeping in to some of our gradings and it kind of bugs me. Sensei calls for uke and people just jump up. But as you go up the grades it becomes clear that some people are jumping to be with a certain person because it's been pre organised. Particularly from Shodan up. One of my students graded to Shodan last week, and when someone from another dojo asked her who her uke was going to be she just looked back at them blankly :-)
I graded the same day, and although I was sitting in front of shomen at the time, I could tell that when Sensei asked for uke's there was a bit of a pregnant pause before people started to come. I beleive this was either due to a personal hygiene problem I"m unaware of, or, that it being a relatively high grade everyone assumed I'd pre arranged my uke and were waiting for my chosen partners to leap to it.
I really don't like this. Grading has value for a number of reasons, one of which is it provides us a rare opportunity to pressure test. If your uke is pre arranged it's always unclear whether it's a pressure test or a dance. Even if they are attacking with full commitment and adding appropriate resistance etc. if it's someone you're used to you're going to be fully prepared for exactly how they move. If it's someone unfamiliar you'll need to adapt as you go which is what Aikido is all about.
I was fortunate to end up with two very good uke, one of whom was from out of town so I never train with. My grading didn't look as pretty as it would have if it had been my own dojo mates up there with me. But I did get the opportunity to show sensei adjusting from a failed technique into something else mid flight. Uke should not be prearranged, and if the grading body thinks that someone is a little to eager to uke for a certain person, I think they should probably be switched out. It's a grading not a demonstration.