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Old 04-30-2012, 09:52 PM   #1
LinTal
Dojo: Aikido Terrey Hills
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The way others see you

Hi guys, just thinking over the 'feeling ready' part of going for a grading. At my dojo we hold gradings twice a year, and there are 3 of us who've been grading together right from the beginning. Problem is, while the others seem to take it for granted that I'll be up for it with them, the next level's 3rd Kyu. People keep telling me it's a massive step. I've been off the mat injured for a few months, and now that I'm back all I can do is pretty much to try and follow along, try to let it flow again - not matching progress shown by the others in that time while I've been off. Let alone be where I was for the 4th Kyu test.

With about 2 months to go before the grading, I'll think I'll just bury myself in training and try to ignore it all. 'It's not about the belt', etc.. The pressure of it all's just building up a bit though, because I'm constantly reminded that the feeling of how it used to be like just isn't there the same way. Would anyone else be willing to share about their thoughts and experiences when coming back like this?

The world changes when you do.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:13 AM   #2
JJF
 
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Re: The way others see you

Hi Selin

That's a very widespread problem you describe.. the whole 'am I ready' thing. The bad news is.. it probably won't go away until your are so far into the yudansha grades that somebody else will make the decision for you. The good news is it is a great way to learn something about yourself.

Every grading is a big step in it's own way. And I for one prefer by far to be 'more than ready' when grading. On the other hand there is always more one could have done. If you have the patience then wait half a year and gather more trainings under your belt before taking the test... if you feel the desire to test now, you might want to ask you sensei or a senior student.

In my dojo I encourage my students to grade when I think they are ready. However as they rise in the system I will try to leave it more and more up to them to decide. One reason is that the first grades are not about technique as much as just for 'getting your feet wet' when it comes to grading (in my opinion). Later on however the difference in progress of each student will be ever growing depending on talent, injuries, time to spend in the dojo just to mention af few factors.

In the end - if you can get to the place where you can decide based on your gut - feeling then you have reached a new level in your Aikido. What we practice is very much about being in touch with our own emotions, accept them and handle them (as our ukes) with compassion and understanding.

You mention yourself that you are not in this for the belts but for the practice and the good times - If you can accept this and act upon it you will start enjoying your practice even more, but it's not easy. Most of us have ego's of a considerable size and those pesky things will stick there heads out on the odd (and even) occasion to mess up your personal balance. Accept them and welcome it as yet another chance to grow and become a better person.

In the long run the distance from beginner to perfection (I use thise term as a provocation) is just as long for those who grade 'on time' according to the schedule as it is for those who take the somewhat longer road... Those grades that we use for inspiration and a slight sense of order in the chaotic mass of aikido techniques are great tools, but don't let them blur your view of the real purpose.

I am babbling here. hope some of it makes sense. Just want to finish by telling you that I have seen people train for decades staying at maybe shodan level or even kyu-level, and I have seen people sprint through the kyu grades based on prior experience, talent or even political reasons. Sometimes it is just neccesary to get some new students to a black belt level (formally) when a new organization is being created f.ex. However I have met 1., 2. and 3. dan instructors that inspire me a far bit more than some with a 5. or 6. dan.. it all depends.. on me.. on them.. on the whole system. In the end we are just praticioners of the same art, and it is what we do on the mat that is important.

Just as you can enjoy the great music no matter what 'belt' he or she has on his instrument. If you are an artist formal testing is a great way to focus your progres, but passing the grade is not the goal. Formal grading is - as far as I think - a tool. Not a goal.

Now try to let it go - meditate or do rigours workout or whatever help you center yourself - then go practice and have fun. And grade when you feel that it is the right occasion - for all the reasons you can think of. Don't overthink it - just feel it.

Enjoy

JJ

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:10 AM   #3
Mario Tobias
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Re: The way others see you

Hi Selin,

Grading is an inherent part of our aikido careers. For me, I think I'll put up myself for grading if I think I will enjoy myself during the grading. Just like training, it needs to be enjoyed and not rushed. If you enjoy your grading, it's guaranteed you'll get great results after.

But at the end of the day, only the daily or regular training matters most.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:02 AM   #4
lbb
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Re: The way others see you

Hi Selin,

You've done pretty well to keep three of you together up to 3rd kyu. I tested for my 5th kyu with five others, none of whom were still "with me" when I tested for 4th. Only one of them is still training. Inevitably, the three of you will diverge, and maybe now is the time.

At my dojo, Sensei starts thinking about having a grading when a group of people have enough hours or are close...then it's usually a couple of months before we get it together. In all, it's probably about three tests every two years, maybe less. What's the source of the expectation for you to test this time? Is it coming from the other two 4th kyus ("of course we'll all test together"), or from Sensei...or from you?
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:36 PM   #5
Shadowfax
 
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Re: The way others see you

There comes a time when you realize that although you may have the hours and technically it is approaching time to test, that you are not ready to test. I actually came to that time myself just in the last few months. I hit hours for my next test quite a while back and have almost doubled them by now. But I knew I was not ready and I said as much to my sensei who thankfully agreed.

Don't hold yourself to a set time period. Its about the quality of your own training. Its not a race. Talk to your sensei and see what he thinks about where you are in your own training and don't worry about keeping up with the others. I don't know about you but I don't ever want to be tested or promoted based on numbers and time. I want it on merit. If I truly am ready and deserve the grade then it has more meaning, even if it does take a little longer to get there.
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:07 AM   #6
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: The way others see you

Train for the sake of the training. Some days are better than others. How could you possibly know when you're ready for promotion? You've never been there before. If there's a routine time for promotion that's predictable in the group then, to my understanding, it's not based on real growth of skill and knowledge. Every single promotion I've had in my budo history has surprised the hell out of me, and it's taken a few months before I realized that I was "comfortable" with the new rank. The only thing, to my mind, that's important about rank is that it's a level that you should hold yourself responsible for, even on a "bad day" and that you know your teacher holds you responsible for.

Chuck Clark
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www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:19 AM   #7
MM
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Re: The way others see you

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
Train for the sake of the training. Some days are better than others. How could you possibly know when you're ready for promotion? You've never been there before. If there's a routine time for promotion that's predictable in the group then, to my understanding, it's not based on real growth of skill and knowledge. Every single promotion I've had in my budo history has surprised the hell out of me, and it's taken a few months before I realized that I was "comfortable" with the new rank. The only thing, to my mind, that's important about rank is that it's a level that you should hold yourself responsible for, even on a "bad day" and that you know your teacher holds you responsible for.
Well worth reposting.
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:46 AM   #8
Rob Watson
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Re: The way others see you

I failed most of my tests so after a while it doesn't really mean anything so just train.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:36 AM   #9
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: The way others see you

Testing is only a small part. It lasts only a few moments. The real test is showing up for practice. Sounds like you are already doing better then a lot of folks.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:51 AM   #10
Edgecrusher
 
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Re: The way others see you

I found that my Sankyu test was way more intense than any other I went for. I was drilled with techniques and found that I had retained the information and executed fairly decently. I think that for those of us who are mudansha have a sense of pressure to want to succeed and not let down our instructor and/or ourselves. Now that I am an Ikkyu, I do not feel the pressure and when I am to be tested for Shodan, I know I will be ready. It's all good and we are all in it to learn and the best we can be.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:56 AM   #11
JJF
 
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Re: The way others see you

Quote:
Kenneth Hannah wrote: View Post
I think that for those of us who are mudansha have a sense of pressure to want to succeed and not let down our instructor and/or ourselves. Now that I am an Ikkyu, I do not feel the pressure and when I am to be tested for Shodan, I know I will be ready.
Funny.. In my experience the pressure builds even more after entering the yudansha grades. Previously somebody were ready to give me opinions on my level and readiness... now when I'm a yudansha and I run a dojo it is up to me to decide when I am ready to grade.. and letting your students down feels a lot more scary than letting your teacher down - at least in my book..

Well.. aikido is not objective but it was quite interesting that I feel so different from you.

Have fun

Jørgen Jakob

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:00 PM   #12
LinTal
Dojo: Aikido Terrey Hills
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Re: The way others see you

Wow, thank you all for such sincere responses.

It's interesting that we're talking here about types of pressure; I've been picturing it like strings connecting us to the others around us that we have a substantial relationship with. Pulling in different directions with different strengths depending on the time and circumstance. For example, if I look at the others I'd been training and grading with from the start (which wasn't so hard since we're equally consistent and there's enough time between them), there's the pull onwards to match each other (definitely a positive force), but also a pull to grade alongside each other as a show of support and solidarity when the time comes to step forward.

Then of course there's the string to the teacher(s)/student(s) you're connecting with. The pull there isn't forwards to some day in mid-year where the grading will be held, it's to each moment where we work together intensely, like we're communicating and gauging each other far more than just with words or adjustments.

As for not rushing the process, just enjoying it... you guys are absolutely right. It was never about the level on paper when I started, all I wanted was to be there in class and learn, and that should never ever change. I suspect a kind of tunnel vision is creeping in that needs to be checked. At the end of the year I'll receive my work posting and be send somewhere that probably quite remote and too far from an aikido class. I love the way grading sharpens your focus and send you deeper, so I think I'm trying too hard to suck out every bit of experience I can before being sent to my metaphorical death.

Chuck, your comment struck yet another chord. I've never been here before. Maybe this is where 'aikido off the mat' comes in, since these things only come up when I'm not training. The sweetness to it all is in this moment, not the one coming later.

If only the head would follow the heart sometimes!!

Lyle, thanks but you're giving me too much credit! When class is on I'm there; I never actually face the moment of decision.

Jørgen, how are you coming to terms with facing the pressure from your students now that you're teaching? Would this be the same if you weren't at Shodan level?

Last edited by LinTal : 05-04-2012 at 08:02 PM.

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