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Old 10-28-2001, 03:45 PM   #1
Mona
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Question Shodan test

Hi all,

For the first time, I attended a Shodan test at our dojo, and I must say, it was quite impressive, and made my gokyu test look like a joke!
The test lasted for two hours (there were only two students 'running for' that bleck belt). One member of the jury took pity on the poor, sweaty, exhausted lads and decided that was enough, even though my Sensei wanted to test them for an additional hour!
How much time does a Shodan test take where you train?

Another thing. Okay, so both students 'passed'. Yet the members of the jury themselves admitted out loud the two students made a lot of mistakes during the test, and there was an obvious lack of discipline coming from one of them.
I don't know, but shouldn't you be self-disciplined, well-trained and fully prepared in order to deserve that black belt?
The one thing that was really good was that the students immediately recognized and executed all of the techniques even though they were stated out in Japanese. That was the only plus, I think. Throughout the test, the jury members kept repeating: "Show us more kime!", yet no kime was ever shown, and "Show us more variations in the free-style section", yet the students kept using the same techniques over and over again.
One of them was nervous to the extreme, while the other one was, as usual, distributing grins to the audience, and speaking with his uke (even though Sensei told him many times to keep quiet!).
So, do you think they deserved that black belt? And could you describe one interesting Shodun test you'd attended?

Thanks,
In Aiki,
Mona
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Old 10-28-2001, 03:58 PM   #2
PeterR
 
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Hi Mona

My Shodan test took less than 30 minutes - I knew exactly what would be asked and in what order. In my randori I sent a huge Japanese (they exist) flying with an unconventional technique ending up with a huge grin on my face and the same on Shihan.

Point being tests vary so much. No idea what marathon tests actually demonstrate - I am sure it was already decided who was ready and who was not before the day.

Do I think your people deserved their grade??
I wasn't there and have no idea what your sensei was actually looking for.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-28-2001, 05:17 PM   #3
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Well, at my first dojo shodan tests ran one to one and a half hours, including the weapons...but then the mid to upper kyu tests could reach an hour with weapons...

At my last dojo shodan was also one hour, at my current one it seems like 20 minutes is more the rule from what I've seen and been told.

At two other dojos that are 'adopted' by me when I travel, shodan is 45 minutes and nidan is one hour (didn't see a shodan test at one, only a nidan test).

So why did your sensei promote them when they were also criticised? Not having been there, one guess might be the critique was meant to encourage them to strive even higher, and also to show you observers what sensei holds as ideal for the next one to test, but that overall, between the test and other observations he felt they had what it took.
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Old 10-28-2001, 05:27 PM   #4
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Thinking about student's missing the mark on tests reminded me of my first dojo: Shortly after I started, a student took a kyu test (I was so new I didn't catch what kyu level it was, since it had weapons I'd guess it was 8th or 7th). Our tests always started with ukemi, and after a few rolls and falls Sensei had him start rolling over crouched students from a standstill. Got up to four. Having just learned to roll (and they weren't pretty) you can imagine the impression that made on me. Sensei was pretty miffed that the student testing could only get over four without a running start, and didn't hide his displeasure.

A couple of days later I got up enough nerve to ask a senior student at what level it was required that we start rolling over other students. She gave me a puzzled look and I reminded her of his test. She laughed and said it wasn't a requirement on any test, but that sensei had had 'an extra bowl of wheaties' that day, and was just encouraging the student tested to stretch his abilities.
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Old 10-28-2001, 07:03 PM   #5
L. Camejo
 
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30 mins... wow

Quote:
Originally posted by PeterR
My Shodan test took less than 30 minutes - I knew exactly what would be asked and in what order.
Hi all,

Hope training is going well for everybody out there.

The only Shodan grading I had the chance of seeing was my own... and that lasted over 2 hours . After which I was in some other Universe mentally I think, was totally exhausted... and had to take charge of teaching the class afterward as an "unofficial" part of the grading.

Peter, as a Shodokan person I envy you ... but then again, you were in Japan(...hmm, actually I take that back, I don't envy you ). Seriously though, my Shodan grading included every kyu test as well as the Shodan syllabus (9 gradings in 1 sitting), which included both kata and randori. I believe my sensei did the grading this way because he had to leave us indefinitely, and needed to be sure that whoever he left in charge at least knew ALL the basics up to the point of Shodan.

Near the end of the official grading I was so mentally and physically spent that I think I entered a place that was the beginning of mushin (no mind)in my humble opinion. My mind became totally empty, having no spare energy to entertain rambling thoughts anyway.

The techniques, however, became truly effortless.. even in full Randori some techniques worked as cleanly as if my partner was actually cooperating like in kata.

Mona, as far as deserving the black belt goes, I'd agree that I was not there and don't know what your sensei was particularly looking for in the grading, hence I cannot say. However, I do believe that at the point of testing a person has not necessarily achieved the standard of that grade... this will grow on them with experience (kinda like getting your driver's license, but then having to learn the unwritten rules of the road by your own driving experiences).

I also believe that although one may know exactly what to do during normal practice, under exam pressures we may sometimes forget the simplest commands and most basic things... hence their lack of response to the kime requests. Also, discipline should be shown by all Dan grades (IMHO). As they are to be examples for the kyu grades, as well as the fact that a Shodan grade means "serious beginner" in my book.

Hope I didn't ramble too much

My $9.99 on the subject.
L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 10-29-2001, 06:25 AM   #6
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Lightbulb Shodan Test

Interesting posts on here about shodan tests. I took my shodan in August and the whole test took approximatley 2 hours...but bare in mind there were 11 people up there with me.....so i gues my actual 'performance' took no longer than 15 minutes in total. I think this is because a shodan test is really only the icing on the cake....what makes a shodan is not what he or she can pull off in a grading, under examination conditions, but all of the work he or she has put in in order get to that point of grading.


To be made a shodan purely on what you can pull off in a grading, in my opinion, is not the most sensible way of doing it. You can allude it to driving tests......who will be the best driver?....a person who has had 50 driving lessons and then passes the test or a person who has taken a crash course and then passes the test?

I guess it all comes down to experience....as so many things do

Chris
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Old 10-29-2001, 07:18 AM   #7
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Hi Larry;

It might be relevant that our Shihan had graded me all the way up from grasshopper stage and spent quite a bit of time understanding all my little incompetencies.

I have seen visitors to go through the whole grading series before they are sent away with a Shodokan yudansha grade.

The number of people grading also has something to do with it. The whole grading is over four hours - my little part was 30 minutes.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-29-2001, 07:38 AM   #8
L. Camejo
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by PeterR
Hi Larry;

It might be relevant that our Shihan had graded me all the way up from grasshopper stage and spent quite a bit of time understanding all my little incompetencies.

I have seen visitors to go through the whole grading series before they are sent away with a Shodokan yudansha grade.

The number of people grading also has something to do with it. The whole grading is over four hours - my little part was 30 minutes.
Hi Peter,

I agree with you on all counts. My Sensei also graded me from grasshopper level and dedicated extra training classes for us to work specifically on things like the Go Shin no kata etc. He was quite attentive actually.

You guys are also right about effect of the number of people grading. In my case, I was the only one, as the kyu gradings were done in a previous class.

Peter, is it me, or do International Shodokan Sensei who train extensively in Japan put a lot of extra effort to maintain (even surpass????) the Japanese standard?

A major high point for me after the grading was my Sensei's review of it, telling me that it was done to a standard that would have passed even in Japan. I couldn't stop smiling after that This being a small club in a little island in the Caribbean and all.

I've heard a few stories of how hard it is to get a Shodokan Dan grade in Japan, so that really made my day

Hope I didn't ramble too much again.
L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
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Old 10-29-2001, 08:27 AM   #9
PeterR
 
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Hmmm Larry should we air our dirty linen in public.

I have heard from many sources, even outside the JAA, that the Shodokan Shodan is the most difficult of the Aikido styles within Japan. This of course may have to do with the time requirement rather than blood, sweat and tears although I seem to remember plenty of all three.

That said you put in the time eventually you will make Shodan - it might just take a while longer than the gung ho types.

Shodokan Honbu is special even within the JAA. For example all the students I started with at Tsukuba Univiersity had Shodan while I was only Nikyu even though I trained more than twice as much. I left that dojo after a year when I moved to Osaka. There was no question whose Aikido was better - I was even asked to take part of the class during that visit.

Internationally there have been some excellent Aikidoists produced and they are recognized at Honbu as such. There are, sadly to say, some real embarrasments. This is the source of a relatively new rule in which only one of the two JAA shihans can award yondan and up. This has stepped on a few toes, including people who have produced people to a high standard. I really am not sure how the rule will help but who am I to question.

At Honbu you train regularily with advanced Dan grades even from no-kyu level. In our small dojos we have to compensate for the lack of this by a lot more individual attention and yes it is a point of pride that all of my students would be in the better half of a Honbu grading. It is actually not so difficult since the curriculum is well laid out but quality is in the execution - not so easy to mimik.

Of course then you have people like me that return to Japan for a top up and end up tossing it all in to move back.



Quote:

Peter, is it me, or do International Shodokan Sensei who train extensively in Japan put a lot of extra effort to maintain (even surpass????) the Japanese standard?

A major high point for me after the grading was my Sensei's review of it, telling me that it was done to a standard that would have passed even in Japan. I couldn't stop smiling after that This being a small club in a little island in the Caribbean and all.

I've heard a few stories of how hard it is to get a Shodokan Dan grade in Japan, so that really made my day

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-29-2001, 09:51 AM   #10
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Re: Shodan Test

Sitting at work reading through the posts and i come across this one...
I start reading thinking, hey, I did my grading in august with 11 others aswell!
then I realised it was you!

hahaha
Hi Chris!

I agree with you of course.
In our association you must wait to be invited to take your dan grading, you cannot ask to be put forward, you must be seen to be 'good enough'. you can train for years as a brown belt and stay brown belt if you are not seen to have progressed to the standard where you can call yourself shodan.
in this way the grade is earned through years of training and not based on a single test.
the test is more a formality, more a deomnstration of skill than an actual test (although that does not make you any less nervous).

our longest grading is usually 1st kyu, that is when you go through pretty much everything

I am wondering, those people who have the huge dan gradings... are you invited to grade or do you choose when you are ready?


Kev

Quote:
Originally posted by bluwing27
Interesting posts on here about shodan tests. I took my shodan in August and the whole test took approximatley 2 hours...but bare in mind there were 11 people up there with me.....so i gues my actual 'performance' took no longer than 15 minutes in total. I think this is because a shodan test is really only the icing on the cake....what makes a shodan is not what he or she can pull off in a grading, under examination conditions, but all of the work he or she has put in in order get to that point of grading.


To be made a shodan purely on what you can pull off in a grading, in my opinion, is not the most sensible way of doing it. You can allude it to driving tests......who will be the best driver?....a person who has had 50 driving lessons and then passes the test or a person who has taken a crash course and then passes the test?

I guess it all comes down to experience....as so many things do

Chris
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Old 10-29-2001, 02:06 PM   #11
tarik
 
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Re: Shodan test

Quote:
Originally posted by Mona
For the first time, I attended a Shodan test at our dojo, and I must say, it was quite impressive, and made my gokyu test look like a joke!
The really good tests to watch when preparing for an exam or just to help focus your training when relatively new are the exams one level above yours. They will be impressive, but they'll feel a little more attainable, and also set some expectations for you.
Quote:
So, do you think they deserved that black belt? And could you describe one interesting Shodun test you'd attended?
I didn't see it, but the board gave them the belts, so sure they deserved it.

I just had my own exam a few weeks ago. The exam was about 30 minutes and they range from 30-60 minutes depending on a lot of variables.

I had plenty of technical details that I felt I had managed poorly at the time, but my instructors not only gave me constructive feedback, they left me to critically analyze the exam myself with the caveat that they felt I did fantastic.

IOW, despite my flaws, they felt I was where I should be for a shodan examination and that with the exception of a few very general areas of growth that they gave me to work on, that I had the tools to improve myself. In a sense, that is a big part of what shodan is about in our dojo. First step.

Your training is your own.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

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Old 10-29-2001, 04:32 PM   #12
Erik
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Re: Shodan test

Quote:
Originally posted by Mona
The test lasted for two hours (there were only two students 'running for' that bleck belt). One member of the jury took pity on the poor, sweaty, exhausted lads and decided that was enough, even though my Sensei wanted to test them for an additional hour!
2 hours? Holy Frijolies! That's hard on the back to sit and watch that long. Tell them to take some pity on the audience. And he wanted another hour?

Quote:
How much time does a Shodan test take where you train?
5 minutes where I'm at. Mine, which was elsewhere lasted a whopping 15 minutes. First kyu was longer.

Quote:
Yet the members of the jury themselves admitted out loud the two students made a lot of mistakes during the test, and there was an obvious lack of discipline coming from one of them. I don't know, but shouldn't you be self-disciplined, well-trained and fully prepared in order to deserve that black belt?
Depends on whether a black belt is that big a deal I suppose. Shodan tests, in my opinion, are seldom things of physical beauty and awe-inspiring perfection.

Quote:
The one thing that was really good was that the students immediately recognized and executed all of the techniques even though they were stated out in Japanese.
I saw a first kyu where the guy totally spaced the weapons portion. I told him I was going to get him a jo that said this end up. He didn't appreciate my humor. I, on the other hand, still amuse myself when I think about how witty I am at times.


Last edited by Erik : 10-29-2001 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 10-29-2001, 09:59 PM   #13
Chocolateuke
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Talking

all of my kuy test except my last one have been 3 hrs long. my last test was 30 min long but only because I had a different sensi. I really dont think time is the factor of how hard a test is. ( although at my 6kuy test the first thing we did was 75 push ups withouth any streching and then 50 bokken shomens and 50 irimies and stuff like that) I believe that a shodan test is going to be way harder on me than any of my other test ( ill see in a couple years eh?) why? because of the mental aspect.mind says to body " come on its your shodan test do better. body to mind " shut up imm doing all the work". but I really wont know although I have heard some senies say their shodan test was 3 days long. ( ouch)

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 10-30-2001, 02:59 AM   #14
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In my opinion, people that do not have character will have technique that rises to the level of bully and never goes beyond. I recently saw a shodan test. Those testing each did 375 different techniques (This included everything from rolls, falls, and the simplest techniques). They went for about 5 hours with 45 min or so to eat. The test was supposed to last 2 days but apparently it went very smoothly.
Those testing were always in control, disciplined, and polite even when the testers tried to get under their skin. I think that when a black belt is given that it represents the person who gave it, good and bad. I judge a teacher by his black belts and not just his skill. To you, their attitudes did not reflect a true black belt. That should tell you something. You should not try and deny it.
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Old 11-01-2001, 10:53 AM   #15
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I have been in several aikido dojos, as well as a karate dojo, and they all had different shodan requirements and testing times. In brief, with all of them, the sensei told the the students that it was time for them to prepare (or take!) the test. One aikido dojo had very long tests for shodan 1-2 hours. In another they ran about 30 minutes. In another dojo, sometimes the sensei would stop a regular class in the middle and say "you! Sit in the middle of the mat!" and would run a 15-20 minute test, and that was it! The karate dojo (kyokushin) had about a ninety minute test - - the last 30 minutes were ten consecutive 3 minute sparring bouts with fresh opponents.
IMHO, I think calling these things 'tests' is really inappropriate. I would prefer to call them 'recitals'. It's really a performance (showing what you know) rather than testing (what you don't know). I don't think you should be testing for a Dan rank until the head of the school tells you to prepare for it.
Henry Brown
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Old 11-01-2001, 03:03 PM   #16
Jonathan
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Testing

My shodan test took a little over an hour. It was very unpleasant. LOTS of stress! My nidan test took 45 minutes. It was only mildly stressful. What a difference three years of training can make! Kawahara Sensei told me when I would test. Any remaining tests will be at his invitation only. If you do a technique correctly you do it only once or twice. If not, you are forced to repeat it until you succeed in proper performance of it or he gets fed up and tells you to test again at a later date (fortunately this has never actually happened to me). The yudansha test requirements encompass about 200 techniques (above and beyond techniques learned for earlier tests). If you are doing really well he sometimes asks for as many variations on a technique as you can supply. The testing seems more and more like a formality as I test for higher and higher ranks. I think maybe sensei knows before I test if I'm going to pass or not.

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 11-02-2001, 01:55 AM   #17
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Last weekend we had a kyu-grade test in our dojo (I and three other students where tested - one failed but it wasn't me ). Afterwards I talked a little to my sensei about the way they judge each student and he told me that actually it is often enough to just watch the student walk onto the mat to tell how good he or she is. In a way Jonathan could be very right on gradings just being a formality since we apparently could just take a stroll up and down the mat

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Old 11-05-2001, 05:12 PM   #18
Brian Crowley
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Mona,

I'm curious about your impressions of the test after having some time to reflect on it (and after getting some good input from this forum).

I have been to several dan exams - Karate & Aikido. Nobody does everything perfectly, however I have never seen anything approaching a lack of discipline.

The most interesting test that I have seen was a young guy - probably around 18 - who injured his shoulder or arm early into the testing. This particular style did not have marathon tests, btw. He completed the test and gave an excellent technical performance despite being in quite a bit of pain at a couple different points.

Brian
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Old 11-06-2001, 07:58 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Brian Crowley
The most interesting test that I have seen was a young guy - probably around 18 - who injured his shoulder or arm early into the testing. This particular style did not have marathon tests, btw. He completed the test and gave an excellent technical performance despite being in quite a bit of pain at a couple different points.
I saw one lady dislocate her toe during full resistance randori for her san dan test. She reached down - reset it - and continued.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 11-10-2001, 10:21 AM   #20
PeterPhilippson
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Shodan tests

My shodan test was about 30 - 40 minutes. However, it took place at the end of a course, and all my technique during the course, as well as my general attitude, were being watched.
I knew some of what would come in the grading, but could have been asked anything. I remember defence against kicks, bokken, knife (real, not wooden), randori, kokyu, showing a jo kata.
I don't really remember all of it.
We are a smallish organisation, and we are required to attend courses to be able to grade, so the senseis are fairly sure who they want to grade by the time it comes to it. Sometimes people make mistakes, which are pointed out, but are told they are overall good enough.

Yours in budo,

Peter

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