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Old 09-16-2010, 10:13 AM   #26
Keith Larman
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Yeah, I can think of a number of students who started with lots of "natural" ability who never made it past low kyu or shodan-ish levels. The problem seems to be that being "naturally gifted" (whatever that might mean) often tends to mean the person never really develops any sort of deep understanding. So they're "good" as a kyu ranked folk go, but as things get more subtle they simply often never develop the skills. Natural fluidity, speed, flexibility, strength, body awareness are all great things to have. And in the beginning those things go a long way to making things seem "easy". Unfortunately that's not the "meat" of this skill (or most any non-trivial activity). It still comes down to devoting the hours, struggling, learning, and keeping all those things going as you get deeper down the rabbit hole.

Now if you're talking about a "naturally gifted" person with an inquisitive mind and strong work ethic who is able to "stick it out" you have a really powerful combination of things.

Anyway, my advice is to simply say that rising up quickly is rarely a good measure of future performance. Often the best measure of future performance is the level of dedication, practice and quality of instruction you had to get there in the first place.

What matters is how far you are willing or able to take it. And neither is a given regardless of natural ability.

Finally... If in your org it's up to your sensei to ask you to test, test when your sensei says so. Say "Hai, sensei" and do your best. The details of when/how/why are up to your teacher and should be the last thing you should be focusing on.

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Old 09-16-2010, 11:27 AM   #27
Dan Rubin
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Chad Banister wrote: View Post
My new sensei said to me after just a week of training at the new dojo that I seem to have a natural ability for the art and he see's me advancing very quickly with this dojo. I was also told similar things from my previous dojo.
I've had that same dream.
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Old 09-16-2010, 02:44 PM   #28
RED
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Oddly enough, I've seen students come and go. I have seen kids who learn abnormally quick. The ones that seem so naturally acclimated to the art seem to drop off when it stops being easy. I've found the guys that have it hard, who struggle a little seem to stick it out and keep learning.
Just an observation.

MM
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Old 09-16-2010, 05:12 PM   #29
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Sometimes those who pick it up naturally get bored and leave too.

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Old 09-16-2010, 07:55 PM   #30
Chris Farnham
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Re: Testing before minimums???

I seem to recall that my first sensei often said "the more naturally talented the person is, the more it hurts when they hit the wall, which everyone eventually does." As far as minimum requirements go, USAF requirements for training days between tests, are higher than just about any other organization. I know that when I tell people here in Japan who adhere to Hombu standards, that I had to practice three hundred days between nikkyu and Ikkyu, their jaws drop as they say "Takusan desu ne, nande?". Here It is Seventy days from Ikkyu to Shodan.
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:51 PM   #31
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Chris Farnham wrote: View Post
I seem to recall that my first sensei often said "the more naturally talented the person is, the more it hurts when they hit the wall, which everyone eventually does." As far as minimum requirements go, USAF requirements for training days between tests, are higher than just about any other organization. I know that when I tell people here in Japan who adhere to Hombu standards, that I had to practice three hundred days between nikkyu and Ikkyu, their jaws drop as they say "Takusan desu ne, nande?". Here It is Seventy days from Ikkyu to Shodan.
Shodan in some places is a statement of "memebership" to the dojo. America has this connotation that a dan equals some level of mastery... which is silly. IMO

MM
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:52 PM   #32
Chris Farnham
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Re: Testing before minimums???

No I wasn't an Uchi deshi, but I was training about 10 hours a week back home, considerably less in Japan ironically. At my dojo, whether you trained one or two hours, that still counted as one hour towards testing, but you're right, the USAF syllabus does say hours.
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:18 PM   #33
RED
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Chris Farnham wrote: View Post
No I wasn't an Uchi deshi, but I was training about 10 hours a week back home, considerably less in Japan ironically. At my dojo, whether you trained one or two hours, that still counted as one hour towards testing, but you're right, the USAF syllabus does say hours.
I've heard of students training under Shihan excelling much quicker. If they trained 6 hours a day, they got 6 hours of toward their test.

MM
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:49 PM   #34
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Re: Testing before minimums???

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Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I've heard of students training under Shihan excelling much quicker. If they trained 6 hours a day, they got 6 hours of toward their test.
Heh, not in our dojo. You train one hour, two hours or six hours in a day, you get one "hour".
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:50 PM   #35
Phil Van Treese
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Usually the head sensei can over ride requirements for a test. However, you have to remember that the rank doesn't back up the knowledge but rather the knowledge and skill you have backs up the rank. Tomiki shihan would not allow me to wear my black belt until I made sandan. I don't know his reasons but whatever they were it made me study harder. Rank is just an award for having reached a certain level but the knowledge is what is powerful and got you to that level. Worry about getting all the knowledge you can and the rank will come. I would rather be a strong kyu grade than a weak dan grade anyday.
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Old 09-17-2010, 01:42 AM   #36
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: Testing before minimums???

I have never understood the rationale behind time requirements for tests, at all. I think people should test when they are ready - by the standards of their organisation, and by the judgement of whoever puts them forward for their test.
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Old 09-17-2010, 07:49 AM   #37
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Nicholas Eschenbruch wrote: View Post
I have never understood the rationale behind time requirements for tests, at all. I think people should test when they are ready - by the standards of their organisation, and by the judgement of whoever puts them forward for their test.
But that's a tautology, isn't it? You should test when you're ready -- that makes perfect sense. But how do you know when you're ready? Well, by the testing criteria! So, the way that you know you're ready for the test is if you've...already...taken the test?

The rationale really isn't hard to understand. Training time is an arbitrary standard that does not perfectly reflect the skill and readiness of the person to whom it is being applied -- I don't think USAF has ever said otherwise. But those who focus on the imperfection of that standard can never produce an alternative that's any better. So, it's what we got -- not perfect, but also a long way from useless.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:37 AM   #38
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
But that's a tautology, isn't it? You should test when you're ready -- that makes perfect sense. But how do you know when you're ready? Well, by the testing criteria! So, the way that you know you're ready for the test is if you've...already...taken the test?

The rationale really isn't hard to understand. Training time is an arbitrary standard that does not perfectly reflect the skill and readiness of the person to whom it is being applied -- I don't think USAF has ever said otherwise. But those who focus on the imperfection of that standard can never produce an alternative that's any better. So, it's what we got -- not perfect, but also a long way from useless.
Hi Mary,
of course you are right about tautologies - I guess for me this one is lessened by (a) the possibility that you fail a test, so you may have been wrong, and (b) all sorts of formal and informal social arrangements that ensure that (a) is not too frequent, and not too disheartening when it happens.

I still dont see how training time should have a decisive or even prominent place there, if skill is what is tested. There can be such blatant discrepancies betwen training time and skill, can't there? I am not even trying to argue a point, I have really never quite understood. Is the point that aikido is so "holistic" that technical skill is only part of what ist tested?
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Old 09-17-2010, 09:12 AM   #39
lbb
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Hi Nicholas,

I think that training time is simply used for lack of any better standard that is readily available and that is a standard. The anecdotes about unprepared shodan candidates make it clear that even a sensei's judgment is not always reliable, and I can't think offhand of what else you would use.
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Old 09-17-2010, 09:44 AM   #40
Basia Halliop
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Shodan in some places is a statement of "memebership" to the dojo. America has this connotation that a dan equals some level of mastery... which is silly. IMO
I don't get that. Why is it sillier than making it a statement of membership? They're both just arbitrary points of reference. In either case it's just a name. It may just as well be at a comparatively more intermediate level as at a very early level.

If we made 'shodan' a more beginner grade than it is, we'd need to add several more testable dan ranks. Which would be fine, I suppose, but I don't see any advantage or real difference to doing it that way.

Other than maybe the fact that current rules make the shodan test the first one that is done in front of the Technical Committee, so if you did that earlier in a student's training maybe you could catch problems earlier and make sure more students were on the right track? Although if that was your goal you could equally well make 2nd or 3rd kyus start testing in front of the Committee, which would be the exact same thing, just with different names.

I can see lots of advantages to having more testing in front of Committee members (presumably it would help prevent some of those cases where people train for years apparently not realizing that they are not getting where they need to be going), but there would be real disadvantages, too. Very very time consuming, for one.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 09-17-2010 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 09-17-2010, 09:46 AM   #41
Basia Halliop
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Re: Testing before minimums???

I expect training time is probably there in part as a guideline to instructors to give them a sense of what degree of mastery and experience is required at different levels (just listing techniques is clearly not enough) and to discourage instructors from sending as many unprepared students who know a lot of techniques but all badly.

Yeah, higher and stricter and more consistent testing standards and more failures could accomplish the same thing over time, but training time is at least a start.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 09-17-2010 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 09-17-2010, 10:00 AM   #42
Basia Halliop
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Heh, not in our dojo. You train one hour, two hours or six hours in a day, you get one "hour".
If you're talking about the USAF, the test requirements specifically state 'practice DAYS'. There is no mention anywhere that I've seen of practice hours.
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Old 09-17-2010, 11:21 AM   #43
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Re: Testing before minimums???

My dojo (NOT USAF- though it used to be) counts hours, but if you train 2 hours, you mark down 2 hours towards your test instead of just one. I believe several dojo's do the 1 hour/day thing no matter how much you train though. Even though people can be in the same organization, interpretation from one sensei to another creates a unique dojo environment..... thus the differences in how testing is handled.

In my dojo, we are lucky if testing is held once a year. It just doesn't happen that often, which is fine for me since I hate testing. It usually seems like he waits until a few people are ready to test for that rank and then it happens. Our last test was held last November for four people taking 5th kyu tests.

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Old 09-17-2010, 01:24 PM   #44
chillzATL
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Ashley Carter wrote: View Post
My dojo (NOT USAF- though it used to be) counts hours, but if you train 2 hours, you mark down 2 hours towards your test instead of just one. I believe several dojo's do the 1 hour/day thing no matter how much you train though. Even though people can be in the same organization, interpretation from one sensei to another creates a unique dojo environment..... thus the differences in how testing is handled.

In my dojo, we are lucky if testing is held once a year. It just doesn't happen that often, which is fine for me since I hate testing. It usually seems like he waits until a few people are ready to test for that rank and then it happens. Our last test was held last November for four people taking 5th kyu tests.
it's the same way in our org. There are hours requirements for rank, but it's a very loose system of measure and one that is easily overridden by someones ability. Despite the hours requirements most dojo's only hold testing once per year at best. Dan testing is only done at summer camp, no exceptions.
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Old 09-18-2010, 03:20 PM   #45
Basia Halliop
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Re: Testing before minimums???

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it's the same way in our org. There are hours requirements for rank, but it's a very loose system of measure and one that is easily overridden by someones ability. Despite the hours requirements most dojo's only hold testing once per year at best. Dan testing is only done at summer camp, no exceptions.
Once per year seems rather hard on the 5th and 4th and sometimes even 3rd kyus... Some of them could easily have got their day requirements several times over in one year (especially 5th kyus, since that only requires a minimum of 60 days practice). Let alone the new USAF 6th kyu, which requires only 20 days of practice (there aren't really any 'techniques' per se, it's more things like knowing how to shikko, tenkan, the names of attacks, etc).

I like our system of testing 3 or 4 times a year. Plus it gives a more manageable number of tests each time. We don't all get bogged down watching ten 5th kyu tests in a row or something.
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Old 09-18-2010, 04:05 PM   #46
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Re: Testing before minimums???

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Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
Once per year seems rather hard on the 5th and 4th and sometimes even 3rd kyus... Some of them could easily have got their day requirements several times over in one year (especially 5th kyus, since that only requires a minimum of 60 days practice). Let alone the new USAF 6th kyu, which requires only 20 days of practice (there aren't really any 'techniques' per se, it's more things like knowing how to shikko, tenkan, the names of attacks, etc).

I like our system of testing 3 or 4 times a year. Plus it gives a more manageable number of tests each time. We don't all get bogged down watching ten 5th kyu tests in a row or something.
Yeah, once a year does seem harsh. You could theoretically end up a 100 hours over for testing.
Our dojo does it about every 6 weeks or so.

MM
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Old 09-18-2010, 04:38 PM   #47
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
Yeah, once a year does seem harsh. You could theoretically end up a 100 hours over for testing.
Our dojo does it about every 6 weeks or so.
100 hours is the requirement for gokyu in our organization.
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Old 09-18-2010, 08:35 PM   #48
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Re: Testing before minimums???

What's so "harsh" about only testing once a year, even for fifth kyu? If you're in it to train, what does it matter? I trained for fifteen months before I tested for fifth...just weren't many new students at that time. So...what? I'm supposed to feel deprived somehow? What exactly did I lose by not testing for fifteen months?
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Old 09-18-2010, 10:53 PM   #49
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Re: Testing before minimums???

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Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
Once per year seems rather hard on the 5th and 4th and sometimes even 3rd kyus... Some of them could easily have got their day requirements several times over in one year.
We are supposed to have like 90 hours (since attaining 5th kyu) or so for 4th kyu and I have over 200 (tested in November for 5th kyu). Truthfully, it doesn't bother me at all that testing is held once a year or less. Either way you are still learning the same thing as everyone else. Rank means little to me.... I think people get too wrapped up in testing and gaining rank sometimes.

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Old 09-19-2010, 01:39 PM   #50
Basia Halliop
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Re: Testing before minimums???

No, I don't mean it's a huge super deal or anything... but it would change the meanings of some of the earlier levels -- if you had a year to get to fifth kyu, then a year to get to fourth kyu, etc... then (presumably) you would expect more of your fourth kyus than we do of ours. It could in theory also mean you ended up with a lot more of a range within each level (one person with 60 days of training and another with e.g. 200). Since I think of testing as organizational quality control, I can see some downsides to having such wide variance, but it's not the end of the world.

I do find a lot of people seem to find the test process (the preparation, etc) very helpful for organizing what they know so far and helping them figure out a few things to focus on working on next in the short term, and at the beginning it seems to help to do that a bit more often and get a chance to sort of break their training into smaller chunks. I've always found the testing process to be an important part of my training (the preparation, the test itself, and the more focused feedback to guide my subsequent training). So for that, I like more frequent testing, especially at the beginning when you're less self sufficient. Also, like I said, I like having just a few tests at a time from the point of view of watching them.

I presume that a dojo that tests less often finds other ways of keeping people on track. And there could be some advantages too, I guess. So maybe 'hard' is too strong a word. I just kind of like having it more frequently, personally.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 09-19-2010 at 01:49 PM.
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