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Old 11-21-2004, 12:18 PM   #26
Leslie Parks
Dojo: Tenshinkan Dojo
Location: Chicago
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 41
Re: Shodan blah...

A very wise sensei I knew once said, "Life does not provide enough pressure cooker condition to test you. So I make pressure cooker for you."

I've always found I've learned from my tests and test preparation as well as my regular training. Part and parcel.

enjoy the challenge
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Old 11-21-2004, 08:44 PM   #27
Nick P.
Nick P.'s Avatar
Dojo: Sukagawa Aikido Club of Montreal
Location: Montreal
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 642
Re: Shodan blah...

Wendy Rowe wrote:
It never occurred to me that someone might not test when Sensei thinks that person is ready. In aikido as in karate, I leave it up to that sensei: Sensei says test, I test; Sensei doesn't mention testing, I don't ask.

I've stlll got a ways to go before shodan, but I can't see myself in the future removing the test-readiness decision from Sensei's hands. It's simpler and less stressful leaving it up to Sensei, since you don't have to worry about analyzing whether you're ready or not. Well, actually, I still worry; but that worry doesn't keep me from testing.
1000% in agreement with you.

"Without hyperbole this is a million times worse." - Kent Brockman

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Old 11-22-2004, 09:26 AM   #28
phil farmer
Dojo: Nacogdoches
Location: Texas
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 47
Re: Shodan blah...

This is a very interesting discussion. I think some excellent points have been made and I admire Paula's courage in speaking her mind. What concerns me in her post is her sense of despair over being involved for 7 years and feeling blah. Now who's fault is that? Is it Paula's? I don't think so. Paula sounds like she has been a good and faithful student. This question is not about rank, it is about what aikido means to Paula and she sounds really discouraged. In the old days of Japan, austerity and perserverance were highly honored values. People would sleep on the Master's porch for days until the Master daned to let them in. Folks, that was Japan and it does not fit our culture.

Paula, it sounds like you are in a quandry about your dojo. You like the people you train with but have no real connection with them. I believe that is the Sensei's fault and the senior students' fault, not yours. Before others question me, I have taught Yoseikan for 10 years and had to work 5 years for the chance to take my shodan test, so I know what it is like to work for hours at a time to test and grow and improve. Paula, my suggestion is that you first talk to your Sensei, if you feel like you can. Tell him/her that you are discouraged and don't feel like you are a part of the dojo. If you can't do that, I would find another aiki dojo. You have worked too long and hard to waste your talent. Not every teacher and student click and not every dojo and student click. Go exploring, you might be happier elsewhere. Don't let people push you into a decision based on guilt or a sense of duty, make your decision based on what you need, you will be a lifetime practitioner if you do.

Phil Farmer
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Old 11-23-2004, 02:23 AM   #29
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 96
Re: Shodan blah...

my two cents:

the belt's purpose is to hold the gi closed.
you are in good company feeling a white belt is good enough for you.
you are tested every time you enter the dojo, and every time you don't.

I would attend a formal examination if my sensei directed me to, aware that it, like everything else I do, may provide unique insight.
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Old 11-23-2004, 11:35 AM   #30
Dojo: Aikikai Foundation Hombu Dojo, Aikido of Hilo
Location: Tokyo
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 63
Re: Shodan blah...

Wendy Rowe wrote:
I can't see myself in the future removing the test-readiness decision from Sensei's hands..
While it's true that the 'test-readiness decision' should be left entirely to the Sensei, some people simply cannot do that. I've been told from childhood that everyone takes their own time to learn things, and nothing should be a compitition. Some people just feel very unsure and stressed about testing for a new rank, and most Sensei will understand that. If the Sensei says you are ready for the exam, you likely are, but it's better to wait if you don't feel certain. The last thing a Sensei wants is for a student to quit (which has been known to happen) because they were feeling too much pressure or stress about testing. We have to remember that we are all people.
For those of you that are unsure, smile and try to trust your Sensei.
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Old 11-23-2004, 05:31 PM   #31
Amassus's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Musubi Ryu/ Yoshin Wadokan
Location: Hamilton
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 306
New Zealand
Re: Shodan blah...

For those of you that are unsure, smile and try to trust your Sensei.
So true, so true.
It took me a while to learn that little lesson.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 12-01-2004, 06:28 PM   #32
Jeff Sodeman
Dojo: San Diego Jiai Aikido
Location: San Diego
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 76
Re: Shodan blah...

Paula seems to have made her decision, but coming from Boulder I thought to reply for those still dicussing the topic.

Back before taking my first kyu test in Boulder I had mentioned being unsure of testing to a senior student. They told me that testing had little to do with me, but more was a gift to Sensei; a way to thank him and show him that coming to class day after day, year after year, to teach all of us had some result in our growth.

Boulder isn't a place where testing is strictly based on days spent on the mat and hours logged. When asked to test by Sensei you're being told you've earned the rank, the testing part is more a demonstration rather than a pass/fail skills test. In my opinion Sensei asked little of my in my years in Boulder, mostly just that I show up to train as often as possible, and later a little of my time in teaching, so when he asks me for anything I'm inclined to give it to him in thanks for everything he's given me.

As to feeling out of place. Boulder is a HUGE dojo. I think last time I asked they had a couple of hundred students. So many people come and go, the landscape of personalities is always changing - at times I've been surrounded by friends there and at other times quite lonely.

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