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Old 08-07-2007, 07:33 AM   #7
Rupert Atkinson
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Dojo: Wherever I am.
Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 993
United Kingdom
Re: testing importance?

I have come to learn that testing has many vices. Sure, test up to shodan, learn the syllabus, then you can begin, so the story goes. Problem is, it takes some people years to get to shodan, by which time their entire experience has been to plod through the grading syllabus. Naturally, once they begin to teach they will repeat the process.

Personally, I hate the grading process but conceed that gradings do have a place. The most important thing is to have a syllabus - something to learn. I have come across schools who pay little, and sometimes, no attention to grading and often, they have no direction. Whether you have gradings or not, there has to be a syllabus - stuff to learn, with direction and planned/achieved progress.

Gradings do not make you much better. Rather, they focus people for a short time, then once passed, they are full of pride, and think they are suddenly ten times better than they were yesterday. I played table tennis 2-3 hours everyday for ten years as a kid and we didn't have gradings - the only thing on my mind was to improve my technique and beat my opponent. I sought out people I couldn't beat and played them until I could beat them. I got better. Imagine how stupid it would be if someone had been assessing my strokes and judging me on my style with little or no competition. Ditto for soccer. And, I hope, I try, ditto for Aikido.

Gradings can be good - I did a lot when I was younger so have no leg to stand on to say abandon gradings - but I can see the result they produce and it is not always good. Consider, how many black belts have you seen quit thinking there is no more to learn? Clearly, they have been led up the wrong track.

I haven't graded in years and can't be bothered with it all. In Korea, some of my students graded higher than me I and I paid no atention to it whatsoever. It was kinda funny at first, but, I think, it gave them a certain kind of lesson. Wonder if they remember though ... Anyway, after 25+ years I find new things hidden in techniques all the time; I save them, collect them, and drill them everyday. It is a fascinating journey.

At the end of the day: Learn the syllabus, pass some gradings, then start learning. But don't wait until you get to shodan to start learning!!!

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 08-07-2007 at 07:38 AM.

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