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Old 09-19-2010, 12:56 PM   #51
RED
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Schools with larger attendance need to test more regularly. Other wise it would take an entire weekend just to get through the 5th kyu if you tested once year.

I wouldn't mind being over for testing. I was over by 60 days for one of my tests once. That's no problem for me. The problem comes in on the organizational level.
As Aikidoka we need to not only think of how rules effect our own personal development. You need to think of how things effect your school, your fellow students and everyone's coherency on the organizational level.
It's not an issue of training at that point anymore. A dojo is a community. Belonging to a dojo isn't the same as owning a gym membership. Students are typically VERY invested in the success and future of their school and Sensei.

Last edited by RED : 09-19-2010 at 12:58 PM.

MM
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Old 09-19-2010, 01:08 PM   #52
Basia Halliop
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Re: Testing before minimums???

I had WAY over the minimum amount of days for 5th kyu - but what stopped me from testing was that I just didn't know the stuff on the test. I had a slow learning curve. In that kind of case I'm glad I took longer. I'm all in favour of taking longer to make tests stronger or more consistent... but it's nice from an organizational point of view if there's some kind of approximate correspondence between skill and formal level. In my experience the ranks seem to be more useful and less political that way.
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:04 PM   #53
lbb
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Basia, good point -- now that I think about it, quality control/standardization really is the #1 benefit of testing, as I see it. And, yeah, I see your point about organizing knowledge...but I also see that breaking down pretty early too (early in terms of rank, not necessarily in terms of time). The test criteria I'm familiar with are all expressed as lists of techniques. That was helpful for my first test test, confusing for my second test, and has been somewhere between useless and counterproductive ever since. There are principles on which the knowledge is based, but they are not anything that can be expressed as a list of techniques.
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:15 PM   #54
Basia Halliop
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Yeah, when I think of 'test standards' I don't really mean what's written, because as you point out, that's just a list of techniques. But there is a standard still (at least within my dojo there is, with rising expectations for each rank), it's just that it's not necessarily formally written down, perhaps in part because it's much harder to express clearly in writing in unambiguous words? That's much harder to maintain consistent between different dojos, and it really has to be clearly and firmly in the instructor's head. I guess that's maybe one of the reasons you do see unprepared students at seminars being recommended to test sometimes.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:22 PM   #55
chillzATL
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
Yeah, when I think of 'test standards' I don't really mean what's written, because as you point out, that's just a list of techniques. But there is a standard still (at least within my dojo there is, with rising expectations for each rank), it's just that it's not necessarily formally written down, perhaps in part because it's much harder to express clearly in writing in unambiguous words? That's much harder to maintain consistent between different dojos, and it really has to be clearly and firmly in the instructor's head. I guess that's maybe one of the reasons you do see unprepared students at seminars being recommended to test sometimes.
For us, the hour requirement is there because that's when they think that you should be able to do what is expected of you, which happens to coincide with the rank. It's not just a number that when you reach it, you're asked to test. Someone could come randomly for two years before hitting 100 hours and still not be invited to test.
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Old 09-20-2010, 10:03 PM   #56
Lan Powers
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Re: Testing before minimums???

"Sensei, When do I test?"
When you can pass.....(make the hour requirements, and have the skills)
The hours are , after-all, just a minimum. The real question is do you have the skills you need for the level you test for?

but next week it will be..."Sensei, when do I test?"

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:29 PM   #57
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Re: Testing before minimums???

I have said this many times but...

Belts and ranks are simply a side effect of training. Concentrate on the joys of training and the grades come.

Easier said than done, quite often.


"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 05-07-2011, 06:15 AM   #58
Mario Tobias
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Re: Testing before minimums???

I've been essentially a 6th kyu white belt for 17 years (changing dojos many times because of situations beyond my control). Don't get me wrong, testing is important. I've only started testing the last 3 years after finding my "home dojo".

The real test is if you can hang in there for the long haul and continue training despite the doubts, difficult questions, dissapointments, life changing events and frustrations that I am sure you will encounter in your journey.

The journey is the test.
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Old 05-20-2011, 02:32 PM   #59
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Minimums are there for a reason. Any time I have seen a dojo's testing requirements it has been stated as this is the minimum requirement. Just because one has the hours doesn't mean one should test. Attitude is more important than technique. Granted if you can't perform the required techniques you won't pass but if your attitude is not good then you won't even get an opportunity to test. That being said the chief instructor may choose to test someone prior to that person reaching the minimum requirement. The chief instructor can do what he/she wants becaue it is the chief instructor. The real test is showing up and simply training.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 06-21-2015, 07:34 PM   #60
rugwithlegs
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Chad, who started this thread, has actually quit Aikido now. Again.

He actually touches on some worthy subjects though. He came to us as a 4th kyu in AAA, and the USAF and AAA both are allied with Hombu Aikikai. The test materials are different. Do we acknowledge his rank, or make him start from scratch? We chose to allow him to keep his previously earned rank.

Before my time, this same school told someone from the kid's class that they had to be stripped of rank because they got their little green stripe somewhere else, no evaluation of ability per the parents. The young boy left Aikido heartbroken.

I left my home dojo for a town with only a Ki Society dojo. I was a Shodan, but when asked I wore a white belt for 18 months, while people I trained along side were promoted 2-3 kyu ranks. One person jumped two ranks to Shodan. I was never offered a chance for rank. The major factor, I eventually decided, was not only that I trained and accepted the training but that I had to disavow everything about my old teacher. I never did that, and I remained unranked for 18 months.

A friend left our CAF dojo to a town with only a Yoshinkan dojo. He was Ikkyu when he arrived, but he went back to the beginning. After a year, one night he was surprised to be ordered to test, one complete test after the other, for hours until he was made Ikkyu by his new school. After that, he was never called different again, and the whole school got to see what he could do. He had everyone's respect and acknowledgement.

I left and trained in the USAF for five years, seven years as Shodan, when Doshu was to come to my home association for summer camp and my former Sensei who I had kept ties with was to be made 8th Dan. I wanted to test there; my new Sensei refused to allow it. I had to suck it up, but I believe I will make a different decision for any future students of mine.

A few decades back, Shihan and licenced instructors who could deliver rank were rare in certain parts of North America. One school had people training for multiple years after fifth kyu, and the students were tested for fourth kyu and third kyu at the same time when the opportunity presented itself. Decades later, they were third Dan and the same Shihan returned to find they were immersed in politics and not practicing much. Surprise! Fourth Dan test tomorrow! A long, ugly test for all three, followed by a tongue lashing.

If you have a young, healthy student come from another dojo, someone who can perform the requirements in general class to an acceptible level, do you order that student to start at the absolute beginning? If I am treated like dirt because my Aiki Taiso or my Birankai or Iwama weapons is not up to Dan level, fine. I know my requirements are not the same as ASU or AAA. I love learning, and I will learn.

If I am being stripped of rank just to insult my teacher and myself, That's different. Then, it's not about me and my desire to learn.

Time requirements - Stanley Pranin had a good article on the early days showing people getting 5th Dan is less time than I got Shodan. I am outranked by people who have trained for several years less - but they trained in one place, and I moved multiple times.

People move around a lot now. What do you do at your dojo to accommodate students (of any rank) who have just moved to your town?
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Old 06-21-2015, 10:02 PM   #61
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Hello,

In our dojo we have a student who came to us with a 1st kyuu obtained from a Yoshinkan school. He was good and had no difficulty in adapting to match our dojo training culture. Very soon after he came, he received an Aikikai 1st kyuu (to me there was no point in making him go through all the kyuu grades, even all at the same time). He then trained appropriately and received shodan. Since our kyuu grades are also given by Doshu and registered with the Aikikai, I checked. They had no problem whatever with him receiving 1st kyuu as his first Aikikai grade: whether to award the grade or not was my decision.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 06-21-2015 at 10:04 PM.

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Old 06-22-2015, 04:32 AM   #62
philipsmith
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Re: Testing before minimums???

I think there is often a sort of inverted snobbery about testing which runs not only through this thread but Aikido as a whole. "Testing doesn't matter" or "Testing is not a measure of skill" are in my opinion nonsense statements. If they are true why test at all?
Also rigid adherence to hours/days as a prerequisite leads to a sort of "We have to wait longer so our quality is higher" type of attitude in some cases or to instructors delaying tests for more able students.
I believe there should be greater flexibility - after all not everyone develops at the same pace and sometimes a delay can be very demotivating. Requirements should be seen as guidelines not rigid prerequisites.
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Old 06-22-2015, 06:15 PM   #63
rugwithlegs
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Sensei Goldsbury, thank you. No one in this thread gave a more fair response, or spoke from a position of greater authority. Your example is much appreciated.

Sensei Smith, I agree wholeheartedly.
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Old 06-23-2015, 12:25 AM   #64
sakumeikan
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Chad Banister wrote: View Post
I am fairly new to Aikido, with just eight months of training. I have tested and passed my first two kyu grades and am looking to take a third test in a month or two. My wife and I just moved down to NC from Grand Rapids MI. I trained at a AAA dojo up their and have been training at a USAF dojo down here with a great sensei. My questions relate to the differences in requirements between the two dojos. At AAA the minimums have you testing for shodan in three years, while the USAF have you testing for the same rank in over five years if you train five days a week. 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.

Now I am not a belt chaser or an ego-maniac, before people start going crazy about that. But I do like consistant motivation in the art. It seems that the black belt in our western society has been given the view of "Man, I'm a black belt in blah, blah, blah, I am a master of my art." This is horse#@!$. It is just the start, If we want the train in traditional Aikido, then we need to stop tacking on years and years of training for a beginning level shodan.

For someone who is training hard and consistantly and seems to pick things up very quickly, can the sensei override the testing minimum time requirements?
Dear Chad,
The idea that everybody should train for centuries before attaining Dan grade is nonsense,Test guidelines are simply test guidelines.It is up to the teacher [assuming the teacher has the understanding ] can and often does promote students inside time guidelines.. Each student makes progress at their own individual speed.No two people are alike.Why then have a rigid test timetable?If a teacher fails to
see when a student is ready for a test , the student can be harmed.My own teacher ,the late Chiba Sensei,stated that grading a student at the right time was akin to picking fruit.Pick the fruit too early ,the fruit is not ripened.Pick the fruit too late the fruit is past its sell by date ie rotten.So gauging when a student is ready for testing is not based solely on time factors.Joe.
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Old 06-23-2015, 12:49 AM   #65
sakumeikan
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
John Hillson wrote: View Post
Chad, who started this thread, has actually quit Aikido now. Again.

He actually touches on some worthy subjects though. He came to us as a 4th kyu in AAA, and the USAF and AAA both are allied with Hombu Aikikai. The test materials are different. Do we acknowledge his rank, or make him start from scratch? We chose to allow him to keep his previously earned rank.

Before my time, this same school told someone from the kid's class that they had to be stripped of rank because they got their little green stripe somewhere else, no evaluation of ability per the parents. The young boy left Aikido heartbroken.

I left my home dojo for a town with only a Ki Society dojo. I was a Shodan, but when asked I wore a white belt for 18 months, while people I trained along side were promoted 2-3 kyu ranks. One person jumped two ranks to Shodan. I was never offered a chance for rank. The major factor, I eventually decided, was not only that I trained and accepted the training but that I had to disavow everything about my old teacher. I never did that, and I remained unranked for 18 months.

A friend left our CAF dojo to a town with only a Yoshinkan dojo. He was Ikkyu when he arrived, but he went back to the beginning. After a year, one night he was surprised to be ordered to test, one complete test after the other, for hours until he was made Ikkyu by his new school. After that, he was never called different again, and the whole school got to see what he could do. He had everyone's respect and acknowledgement.

I left and trained in the USAF for five years, seven years as Shodan, when Doshu was to come to my home association for summer camp and my former Sensei who I had kept ties with was to be made 8th Dan. I wanted to test there; my new Sensei refused to allow it. I had to suck it up, but I believe I will make a different decision for any future students of mine.

A few decades back, Shihan and licenced instructors who could deliver rank were rare in certain parts of North America. One school had people training for multiple years after fifth kyu, and the students were tested for fourth kyu and third kyu at the same time when the opportunity presented itself. Decades later, they were third Dan and the same Shihan returned to find they were immersed in politics and not practicing much. Surprise! Fourth Dan test tomorrow! A long, ugly test for all three, followed by a tongue lashing.

If you have a young, healthy student come from another dojo, someone who can perform the requirements in general class to an acceptible level, do you order that student to start at the absolute beginning? If I am treated like dirt because my Aiki Taiso or my Birankai or Iwama weapons is not up to Dan level, fine. I know my requirements are not the same as ASU or AAA. I love learning, and I will learn.

If I am being stripped of rank just to insult my teacher and myself, That's different. Then, it's not about me and my desire to learn.

Time requirements - Stanley Pranin had a good article on the early days showing people getting 5th Dan is less time than I got Shodan. I am outranked by people who have trained for several years less - but they trained in one place, and I moved multiple times.

People move around a lot now. What do you do at your dojo to accommodate students (of any rank) who have just moved to your town?
Dear John,
The picture you paint is a really bad picture.It seems to me that this situation is a case of politics , egomania, aikido sectarianism [our group is not the same as your old group ].If a person knows his stuff it is irrelevant where/what his lineage is.As a member of Birankai International I can assure you that you certainly would not be treated like dirt simply because you were not proficient at weapons.How could you be if you have not had the opportunity to learn the system?The Teacher would and should make allowances for persons who have joined the new group , be it Iwama, Birankai or whatever, from another ryu.If a new person from another town came from a different lineage , I would review his/her abilities.If he /she was ok, o would simply promote him by recommendation or by test.My teacher gave me the authority to grade as I see fit . All he asked of me was this.that I exercised this authority wisely.Chiba Sensei looked for quality standards of Aikido and asked our teachers to maintain good quality in conducting any tests.I feel that your blog needs to be addressed .It sure stirs up the muddy waters. Joe.
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:09 PM   #66
rugwithlegs
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Dear Sensei Curran,

Perhaps I expressed myself badly - I have no objection to being asked to eat bitter when there are deficiencies. I go to the dojo to learn, so I am happy when a teacher and a dojo have new material for me.

I would like to express my condolences to you and your dojo. I only met Chiba Sensei once, though I knew several of his students in Canada and the U.S. I attended a memorial work out in his honor this past weekend. He was a truly formidable and complete martial artist. He was highly creative and focused on giving his best to his students. His death is a great loss, but I feel he left a powerful organization to carry on his life's work.

I appreciate your comments very much.

I am sorry for your loss

John
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Old 06-24-2015, 03:40 AM   #67
sakumeikan
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
John Hillson wrote: View Post
Dear Sensei Curran,

Perhaps I expressed myself badly - I have no objection to being asked to eat bitter when there are deficiencies. I go to the dojo to learn, so I am happy when a teacher and a dojo have new material for me.

I would like to express my condolences to you and your dojo. I only met Chiba Sensei once, though I knew several of his students in Canada and the U.S. I attended a memorial work out in his honor this past weekend. He was a truly formidable and complete martial artist. He was highly creative and focused on giving his best to his students. His death is a great loss, but I feel he left a powerful organization to carry on his life's work.

I appreciate your comments very much.

I am sorry for your loss

John
Dear John,
I am sure the event held recently in memory of Chiba Sensei went well.Unfortunately to my regret i could not attend. As you say Sensei was very creative and gave his students the best that he could .For my own part I hosted in my own area a one day event which was the first Regional Course of the British Birankai held since Sensei's passing.We paid our respects to our teacher's memory, incence was offered and a one minute silence was observed in memory of Sensei.We followed up by body art and weapons trainingThe spirit in the dojo was excellent and everyone did well.The classes were led by Davinder Bath Sensei 6th Dan Shidoin from London.I wish to thank all who attended tis event and my thanks to Bath Sensei for his tuition.Joe,
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Old 06-24-2015, 07:33 AM   #68
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear John,
I am sure the event held recently in memory of Chiba Sensei went well.Unfortunately to my regret i could not attend. As you say Sensei was very creative and gave his students the best that he could .For my own part I hosted in my own area a one day event which was the first Regional Course of the British Birankai held since Sensei's passing.We paid our respects to our teacher's memory, incence was offered and a one minute silence was observed in memory of Sensei.We followed up by body art and weapons trainingThe spirit in the dojo was excellent and everyone did well.The classes were led by Davinder Bath Sensei 6th Dan Shidoin from London.I wish to thank all who attended tis event and my thanks to Bath Sensei for his tuition.Joe,
Hi Sensei,

Not sure which event you mean, but there is a celebration of life planned for the 2015 Birankai Summer Camp in Tacoma WA on Saturday July 18. Details at http://camp.birankai.org/2015/schedule - there are some new registration options for those who only want to attend for the weekend, for those who want to attend but will not be training, etc.
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Old 06-24-2015, 08:02 AM   #69
sakumeikan
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Hi Sensei,

Not sure which event you mean, but there is a celebration of life planned for the 2015 Birankai Summer Camp in Tacoma WA on Saturday July 18. Details at http://camp.birankai.org/2015/schedule - there are some new registration options for those who only want to attend for the weekend, for those who want to attend but will not be training, etc.
Dear Mary,
I get the news about all the events from the U.S.A. France Poland etc.
Much appreciate your info.The event that I unfortunately missed was the event that was event held recently at San Diego Aikikai where some of Chiba Senseis student celebrated his life.The bigger celebration of course as you say will be in Tacoma.Cheers, Joe.
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Old 06-24-2015, 08:07 AM   #70
sakumeikan
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Mary,
I get the news about all the events from the U.S.A. France Poland etc.
Much appreciate your info.The event that I unfortunately missed was the event that was event held recently at San Diego Aikikai where some of Chiba Senseis student celebrated his life.The bigger celebration of course as you say will be in Tacoma.Cheers, Joe.
Dear All,
The British Birankai 2015 Summer School dates are almost if not the same dates as Birankai Camp in Tacoma.All being well we will also be celebrating the life of Chiba Sensei at our camp.The Summer School details are on the British Birankai webpage.All are welcome. Cheers, Joe.
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Old 06-27-2015, 07:12 AM   #71
Currawong
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Re: Testing before minimums???

Interesting discussion. I think there are a number of factors that make the issue complex. When I started in Aikido, for example, there were only two 4th dans in my city, one with a class full of older black belts, and the other mostly white belts (my dojo). It was a university dojo where many students would start when they first arrived and move on 3 years later after they graduated.

That lead to two radically different training experiences available, with a Shihan visiting only twice a year for national schools, as seems to be the case for many Western and European dojos. I see a lot of more remote dojos in other countries only having classes or training days 2-5 times a week, sometimes with only a 2nd dan as teacher, so a focus on hours rather than days, plus seminars attended makes a lot of sense. It is what I went through to get my shodan.

Now contrast that to living in Japan, where I most classes I attend are taught by one of O'Sensei's students, and in at least a couple of those classes up to half a dozen students are shihan, most hanging around after class for extra training either for themselves or to help others. Then there is helping one's juniors for quarterly grading tests and being asked every other month to demonstrate Aikido at some or other event, which requires more practice.

I've noticed here that some students have dan ranks more, I suspect, because of age and seniority and may have been given them so they don't lose face. Quite often those people don't teach. The people who do teach, or who will grade get as much attention from the many seniors as they need to make sure everything they do is as good as it can be. The attitude where I am, if not in Japan in general, seems to be quite different, not just the circumstances.
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