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Old 08-07-2003, 10:55 AM   #1
Kung Fu Liane
Location: Jersey
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Confused giving grades

heya,

has anyone heard of aikido teachers who give grades to (non-dan grade) students without the student performing a formal grading?

thanx

Aikido: a martial art which allows you to defeat your enemy without hurting him, unless of course he doesn't know how to breakfall in which case he will shatter every bone in his body when he lands. Also known as Origami with people
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Old 08-07-2003, 11:02 AM   #2
diesel
Dojo: Tenshin
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Do you mean a situation like.. one night in a normal class your sensei will just say.. "You are now 5th kyu.." ?

I have seen this done before, mainly for deshi though.

Depends on the sensei and the person. I do not beleive there is any formal requirement for kyu ranks saying that there has to be a formal testing board?

Cheers,

Eric
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Old 08-07-2003, 04:01 PM   #3
Hanna B
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Heard of it, but never seen it happening. Ichimura sensei, who was responsible for aikido in Sweden until he left in -86, was wellknown for giving out grades in the sauna after training etc. Even heard about a grade given to the student by post card! This was before my time, though. Grading procedures are more normal here now.
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Old 08-07-2003, 04:50 PM   #4
Joe Jutsu
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I doubt that this scenario happens very often. Correct me if I'm wrong, but testing is a way that dojo's or perhaps the greater organization as a whole get's alot of its income. If this isn't the case, then why aren't ranks always awarded without the test and its fees?? I'm sure most sensei's have a good idea of what level their students are at through day to day training, and probably don't recommend that one tests until they know that they are ready. So why not just say "ta daa, you're now kyu or dan number x"??

Joe
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Old 08-07-2003, 05:20 PM   #5
Hanna B
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I believe the fee is for the grade and not for the test, so skipping the test would not make much of a difference when it comes to costs.
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Old 08-07-2003, 08:40 PM   #6
Aristeia
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I don't see any real problem with grades being handed out this way. Ideally the teacher should have enough of a handle on the day to day capabilities of a student to know what level they are at. Indeed given some of the gradings I've seen pass I can only assume that their non grading ability has been taken into account. Having said that I've always thought that because (most of us) don't do competition, gradings are the one place we have to see how our technique fares with the nerves/adrenalin pumping.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 08-08-2003, 02:05 AM   #7
Bronson
 
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Quote:
I've always thought that because (most of us) don't do competition, gradings are the one place we have to see how our technique fares with the nerves/adrenalin pumping.
This is what our gradings are for. Sensei wouldn't put you up if he didn't know you were capable of doing it. The test is to see if he can "take your center". He wants to see if you can overcome the nerves and carry on.

Recently we had two people in our dojo promoted to nikyu without a formal grading. The reason they were given their promotions was because they both led aiki-taiso (warm up exercises) at our national summer camp. Sensei and the other high ranks watched them and all agreed that even though they were nervous they got it under control and did a fine job. They had shown they could perform under pressure therefore no need for the test.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 08-08-2003, 03:30 AM   #8
JJF
 
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Actually grades given by recomandation are in some associations more expencive than those given after a formal test.

My first teacher received both his shodan and his nidan by recomandation. I think perhaps the shodan was by Ichimure sensei and the nidan was by Nishio sensei, but I'm not certain. It was many years before I took up aikido.

In my experience grading by recomandation is often used when a sensei travels far to get to a country where aikido is in the making. In some situations it is used to promote good people with a lot of experience, who for some reason don't want to test.

Of course grading by recomandation is the only real way for political gradings.

Just a few thoughts on the matter

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 08-08-2003, 10:12 AM   #9
DavidEllard
Dojo: Dunstable/Dinton
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A Friend of mine got his last grade (nikyu) by being it awarded as oppossed to a grading panel.

We had two senior Swedish (noticing a pattern?) Instructors over for a weekend course and our sensei asked them to have a look at this guy who they were thinking of grading up. So they watched him and, in effect tested him, for the whole weekend.

Then at our next training session he was award the next grade.

I think it was a nice way of doing it (course work over exams as it were) but i think it's probably important to see how people deal with grading pressure by the time they are nearing dan grades.
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Old 08-08-2003, 10:40 AM   #10
rachmass
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I've had personal experience with this. The first dojo I belonged to had kyu ranks from 7th through 1st, and I double promoted twice. The second dojo (lost all rank mind you and started afresh) I was triple promoted on a test, and just awarded a rank one day (came into the dojo and found people congratulating me on my promotion-odd that was). All were kyu grades; none were expected.

Don't think it is a big deal, or out of the ordinary. If you are training a good deal, your teacher sees you a lot and knows where you are. My teacher seemed to like the element of suprise, and I certainly had to go through the ringer of testing most times (and usually with a good deal of notice). Actually rather like the suprise promotions specially now that I am preparing for my (most likely) final test; and stressing inordinately about it!
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Old 08-08-2003, 10:50 AM   #11
paw
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ok you hooked me.......

Michael, David:

This is off tangent, but I can't resist....
Quote:
Having said that I've always thought that because (most of us) don't do competition, gradings are the one place we have to see how our technique fares with the nerves/adrenalin pumping.
Quote:
I think it was a nice way of doing it (course work over exams as it were) but i think it's probably important to see how people deal with grading pressure by the time they are nearing dan grades.
It seems that there is the implication that a grading exam is a stressful situation. It may not be. From personal experience, it has never been for me.

Why would it be, when you think about it --- particularly for kyu grades. The person being tested knows what is expected of them (the requirements), probably knows the attack uke will give and what technique they (the person being tested) will respond with, most likely knows who uke will be (the people they train with daily, or have seen at seminars), and will not be getting a completely uncooperative uke.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-08-2003, 04:26 PM   #12
Kung Fu Liane
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Confused

paul,

i find that gradings are stressful, because when i take a grade i do it for my teacher, so i don't want to let them down. aikido gradings are different because i have moved schools now and deon't know the teacher too well, but kung fu gradings are a different kettle of fish

guess it depends on what a grading means to you

-Liane

Aikido: a martial art which allows you to defeat your enemy without hurting him, unless of course he doesn't know how to breakfall in which case he will shatter every bone in his body when he lands. Also known as Origami with people
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Old 08-08-2003, 06:10 PM   #13
Aristeia
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Paul,

While I certainly agree that a grading doesn't come close to the stress of actual randori or combat, for many organisations it's the closest they get. Many times it's infront of a sensei and senior students they don't regularly train with, plus the audience etc. I'm not trying to say it is a valid substitute for the sparring you find in other arts, but if you take as a given that that's not available it does offer some value.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 08-08-2003, 07:09 PM   #14
paw
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Liane,
Quote:
i find that gradings are stressful, because when i take a grade i do it for my teacher
Is that why you train? For your teacher?

Mike,
Quote:
While I certainly agree that a grading doesn't come close to the stress of actual randori or combat, for many organisations it's the closest they get.
If the most stressful thing a student does doesn't come close to combat, isn't it a dis-service to make any claims towards self-defense?
Quote:
Many times it's infront of a sensei and senior students they don't regularly train with
Why not? Is that some kind of fundamental violation --- sensei and senior students don't train regularly with the "unwashed" kohai?
Quote:
I'm not trying to say it is a valid substitute for the sparring you find in other arts, but if you take as a given that that's not available
Why is it [sparring] a given it's not available? Was Tomiki wrong?

Is sparring about winning? Most boxers, bjj'ers, judo players and, yes, those Tomiki folks would say "sparring" is about learning.

To return to the issue at hand, and Liane's last question, my own personal opinion are gradings are so subjective, why not just award them without an "exam"? Works for me.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-09-2003, 12:02 AM   #15
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Quote:
paul watt (paw) wrote:
Why is it [sparring] a given it's not available? Was Tomiki wrong?

Is sparring about winning? Most boxers, bjj'ers, judo players and, yes, those Tomiki folks would say "sparring" is about learning.
As you know Aikidoists are amongst the deadliest of the deadly and sparring would bring about a catastrophe of biblical proportions. The water would run red with blood, plague would be in the streets, the oceans would foam, the sky would darken for the end would be near.

Paul, it's not a given everywhere, well, almost not everywhere.
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Old 08-09-2003, 12:53 AM   #16
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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Quote:
As you know Aikidoists are amongst the deadliest of the deadly and sparring would bring about a catastrophe of biblical proportions. The water would run red with blood, plague would be in the streets, the oceans would foam, the sky would darken for the end would be near.
It's funny that you mention it because that is EXACTLY what happened last time we tried it at our dojo. We though we were doing something wrong, but I guess sparring in Aikido is just like that. Took a hell of a long time to clean up the mats, I can tell you, and we haven't tried it since.
Quote:
Many times it's infront of a sensei and senior students they don't regularly train with
Quote:
Why not? Is that some kind of fundamental violation --- sensei and senior students don't train regularly with the "unwashed" kohai?
I think the idea is that many places, kyu testing is done by a number of dojos together and so there are unfamiliar people on the mat (like at a seminar).

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 08-09-2003, 05:47 AM   #17
Kung Fu Liane
Location: Jersey
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Confused

paul,

no, i train for me, and grade for my teachers.

Aikido: a martial art which allows you to defeat your enemy without hurting him, unless of course he doesn't know how to breakfall in which case he will shatter every bone in his body when he lands. Also known as Origami with people
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Old 08-09-2003, 06:27 AM   #18
paw
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Erik,
Quote:
Paul, it's not a given everywhere, well, almost not everywhere.
Exactly the point I was hinting at to Michael.

Opher,
Quote:
We though we were doing something wrong, <snip>
You were. Period. See for example, Erik's dojo. Or the post on "help with randori/freestyle" (name escapes me) and re-read Peter's posts on the subject.
Quote:
I think the idea is that many places, kyu testing is done by a number of dojos together and so there are unfamiliar people on the mat (like at a seminar).
LOL! Go to a few seminars and you'll start to see the same people. Even the situation you mention is the same way. The people are familiar, and are trained in the same methods with the same testing criteria ---- they are not greatly dissimilar. And the key points, they are not completely uncooperative ukes, and there is a great deal of "known" structure for much of the test --- ie the attack is specified and the response is specified.

Liane,
Quote:
no, i train for me, and grade for my teachers
Why not train and grade for you? (That's a retorical question, there's no need to respond)

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-09-2003, 11:06 AM   #19
Erik
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Quote:
paul watt (paw) wrote:
You were. Period. See for example, Erik's dojo.
For the record, I'm nomadically challenged.


Last edited by Erik : 08-09-2003 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 08-09-2003, 02:44 PM   #20
Aikilove
Dojo: Lunds Aikidoklubb
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Quote:
paul watt (paw) wrote:
Liane,

If the most stressful thing a student does doesn't come close to combat, isn't it a dis-service to make any claims towards self-defense?
I had the (un)fortune to be attacked by two guys in full daylight recently (on my birthday at that!!). I must say for me I never was stressed (surprised and later confused yes but not stressed) when it happend. I remained calm and tossed them as they came (the first tried to suckerpunch me, the second kick me) and then called the police. I was actually more worried afterwards that I had hurt them and that they were going to sue me, but they weren't (hurt that is!).

I personaly find the dayly training much more challanging than that event. But that's me. Then again I have since long convinced myself that what I do work and I always see people around me as potentional partners in the dojo (i.e. the world), and so hopefully never have the doubts that could make me freeze when I shouldn't. That time it worked! They were my partners nothing more.

Oops way of topic!

Last edited by Aikilove : 08-09-2003 at 02:48 PM.

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 08-10-2003, 01:33 AM   #21
Tim Griffiths
Dojo: Nes Ziona Aikikai
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Re: ok you hooked me.......

Quote:
paul watt (paw) wrote:
Michael, David:

It seems that there is the implication that a grading exam is a stressful situation...Why would it be, when you think about it --- particularly for kyu grades. The person being tested knows what is expected of them...[snip]
Maybe in some dojos. In mine, there are set techniques that will be asked for, but the sensei will also ask for a lot more, whatever he thinks the student can handle.

The gradings are designed to be stressful, for exactly the reasons given by others.

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 08-10-2003, 01:38 AM   #22
Tim Griffiths
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Quote:
Joe Proffitt (Joe Jutsu) wrote:
I doubt that this scenario happens very often. Correct me if I'm wrong, but testing is a way that dojo's or perhaps the greater organization as a whole get's alot of its income...
You asked...

We don't charge for kyu grades. The dan grades (Aikikai) come with a fee, which goes completely to Japan. There was no fee for my non-aikikai yudansha exams either.

Actually, I think our club should charge a modest fee for kyu grades ($20 or so) - to make a 'mat-repair kitty'.

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 08-10-2003, 06:25 AM   #23
paw
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Tim,
Quote:
Maybe in some dojos. In mine, there are set techniques that will be asked for, but the sensei will also ask for a lot more, whatever he thinks the student can handle.
The point is, sensei tells nage what technique to perform and often tells uke what attack to use. The fact that the student can handle techniques that aren't technically on the agenda highlights the cooperative partner.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-10-2003, 08:42 PM   #24
Adrian Smith
 
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In our dojo Sensei hands out a form we fill in when he feels we're ready for testing. It's from Aikikai Honbu (I don't know if other aikikai-affiliated dojos use the same form so please forgive me if this is old information). On it there's a section marked "Method" (or similar) which has two choices:

o Testing

o Observation

So it looks like our grades can be awarded by observation alone, rather than by testing. I haven't seen it happen yet, though, and I don't know how often (if ever) it does...

-drin
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Old 08-11-2003, 01:30 AM   #25
Aristeia
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Paul,

I've been off a while so will respond to (I hope) all of your points at once.

It's a given that randori is not availible in many places because the bulk of Aikido dojo don't do it in any formal sense. I'm not saying that's good or bad but it is the reality. Unless you're doing tomiki or some similar variant, aikido simnplydoes not focus on sparring. Which isn't to say it doesn't happen in an "informal" way amongst like minded students. To some people this is Aikido's downfall, to others it's it's selling poing <shrug>. I'd guess the majority of the people on this list do not do much in the way of sparring (in the sense we're talking about) during formal class time - that's why I take it as a given.

Of course there's no rule about the sempai training with the kohai. We operate a satellite dojo, with gradings being performed by our shihan in at our hombu. Some people manage to get to hombu/seminars often, others are more confined to the satellite. For these latter people the hombu instructors and students are unfamiliar.

I understand where you're coming from, as someone who dabbles in BJJ I have come to understand the value of sparring and it's an aspect of my cross training I really enjoy. Whether we should spar in Aikido and if so how that should be set up is another thread and one which I suspect has been done before. My point is simply that given that many many dojos don't spar, grading is all you have left to observe technique in an environment that is more stressful than day to day training.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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