Intensive Training Camp and Promotion test in November
The annual three-day intensive training camp is over today. The Kobayashi Dojos have this camp on the consecutive holidays in October every year: Saturday, Sunday and Sports Day. People from various countries come to this camp such as Korea, Brazil, Hungary, UK and US. The full schedule on Sunday is: early morning keiko, breakfast, morning keiko, lunch, afternoon keiko, evening keiko and dinner followed by a friendship party.
I didn't participate in it this time, but I am sure all the participants had a wonderful time with the excellent instructors.
The participants are divided into some groups according to their ranks and experience and they have keiko with their instructors. Black belts can take lessons directly from Dojo-cho (the head master Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei).
When this camp is over, we are heading toward the end of the year already, but before the year-forgetting events, there is another shodan (promotion) test to be held on November 18th for fifth kyu up and on 25th for sixth kyu and lower ones.
Students can take the lower tests from 8th to 6th at each of the local dojos, but when we take the 5th kyu and up, we have to go to the honbu(headquarters) dojo in Shinjuku, which we call the "honbu debut".
There are three opportunities for taking the promotion test a year, in March, July and November. We can take the test on any one of these three days depending on the number of lessons we have taken.
At our Fuchu Dojo some will take the test for the first kyu and second kyu and a few will take the first dan on the coming November test. Probably almost all of us except for black belts will take the test for higher ranks.
So, after the intensive camp in chiba, we start doing keiko (lessons/practice) really hard and seriously for about one month up to the very previous night before the shinsa (test).
I like both the relaxed time when everybody smiles while practicing and the serious time when everybody looks kind of stern. At the tea time after the keiko and sweeping and wiping the tatami, though, we chat, joke and laugh a lot at either of the times.
There is no competition in Aikido. This is true, but actually there is a slight competitive "mood" because of the difference in the belt color. Also the hakama puts you in a different status whether you may like it or not because at our dojos we cannot wear the hakama until we get the first dan.
In our dojo, people who started Aikido there earlier are sort of senpai (more experienced students) regardless of their ages, but we are all busy because our jobs, and in some cases kohai(lower-year students) who started after their senpai get black belts before them. Among young people there seems to be slight competion as to who gets the brown belt first.
But all in all, we think that we are practicing Aikido to have fun, to enjoy learning techniques and being thrown, doing a flip, doing ukemi, getting sweaty, learning the jo(staff) and ken(sword), although our sensei is thinking that the real Aikido is more fearful and powerful and dangerous.
In fact I feel that people with the 2nd dan up are strong and can be dangerous if they need to. I feel that their levels are awfully different from people with just the 1st dan. I often forget to breath when I practice with a second dan or third dan. They are quick to respond, good at ukemi, and they have strong force you cannot repel. I just hold my breath for the whole time of their executing a technique being prepared for being thrown hard to the mat, or for my wrist or arm being broken though they don't actually do that. The fact that I would never be able to escape their attack if they really did it threatens me a lot.
Last edited by EKoba : 10-07-2007 at 10:30 PM.