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Old 08-11-2003, 02:21 AM   #26
Bronson
 
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Quote:
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.
I've often wondered this myself. I've talked about this with people in our dojo who have to deal with real life & death stress in their daily lives. Police, emergency room doctors, emergency medical tech. etc. All of them have said that their aikido gradings have been some of their most stressful times. In talking with them, and in my own experiences it really comes down to more of a performance anxiety than any type of physical stress. All of the people I've talked with have gotten themselvs so worked up in the time prior to testing that they fill themselves with self-doubt. It's not like the stress of outside situations where you don't have time to think about what's going on. Before the test you may have days/weeks/months to think about it. Lots of time to think of all the horrible things that could happen to you during 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 08-11-2003, 05:48 AM   #27
paw
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Michael,
Quote:
I've been off a while so will respond to (I hope) all of your points at once.
Actually, you replied with how things are done in aikido --- which was something I was aware of.

You wrote:

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.

I asked:

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?

You wrote:

Many times it's <testing> infront of a sensei and senior students they don't regularly train with.

A statement you clarifed by writing that not everyone makes it to seminars ergo, they don't know everyone --- which is exactly what Opher wrote. I reply to you as I did to him:

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.
Quote:
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.
Ok. I submit that grading is highly subjective and not particularly dissimilar from regular training. I see no reason why rank cannot be awarded without kyu/dan exams.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-11-2003, 05:54 AM   #28
paw
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Bronson,
Quote:
I've talked about this with people in our dojo who have to deal with real life & death stress in their daily lives. Police, emergency room doctors, emergency medical tech. etc. All of them have said that their aikido gradings have been some of their most stressful times.
Ok, if that's what they say. But one should get better at something over time --- given an acceptable training method. We could expect that someone's ukemi will be much better after 5 years, than it was in the first year. Seem reasonable?

In the same way, I think it reasonable that if someone feels "performance anxiety" for their first exam, they shouldn't feel the same degree of anxiety for their fifth exam. If they do, I suspect there is a coaching problem.

I would say the same about self-doubt. If the training method doesn't give the student a good indication of what they are capable of, there is a problem with the training method and/or the coaching that is provided to the student.

Are these unreasonable expectations?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-11-2003, 08:09 AM   #29
Ron Tisdale
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Hi Paul,

I haven't read this entire thread yet...I'll go back sometime today and do that. But I did notice the following:
Quote:
In the same way, I think it reasonable that if someone feels "performance anxiety" for their first exam, they shouldn't feel the same degree of anxiety for their fifth exam. If they do, I suspect there is a coaching problem.
I'm not sure I follow this. Each test should indeed make you more and more comfortable with the testing process in general...but each test should also be progressively harder. More material required, different material required (weapons, paired weapons, more uke, etc.), a higher standard for the techniques, even the shite waza. So, for instance, while the general nervousness of testing itself becomes easier and easier to handle, the amount of specific material and the level of overall difficulty should be increasing enough to keep the preasure on.

In my experience, there were certain tests where a lot of focus was placed on increasing that preasure, just to be sure I was ready for that level. Now, I know that some dojo rarely if ever fail students in the testing environment. That was not the case where I came up...I failed one of my tests, and know many others who did as well. In fact, I was with someone this weekend who failed his shodan exam twice. 'course, he came up under an old school yoshinkan instructor, one who was known for being extremely picky about dan examinations.

There is the veiw point that the instructor shouldn't put the student up unless they know they will pass...but somehow that (to me) lets the student off the hook a bit.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-11-2003, 09:25 AM   #30
happysod
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Ron, "There is the veiw point that the instructor shouldn't put the student up unless they know they will pass...but somehow that (to me) lets the student off the hook a bit."

I'd prefer to put it as,"we don't put people in for a grading until we know they should pass", failing is always an option as people can perform badly on the day.

Paul, I can only offer my sincere admiration to a man who has never felt more pressured in grading than when just practicing. I can only assume either your dojo is normally pyschologically brutal or you have untapped skills we should all learn...

Yes, coaching plays a part, but a grading should never be something you can take for granted or feel as though you're going through the motions on.
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Old 08-11-2003, 09:50 AM   #31
Ron Tisdale
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Hi Ian,

I know what you are saying...but here is an example. I have heard many times on these boards that a student going up for an exam and failing reflects badly on the instructor. I also seem to hear intimations that people generally don't fail tests. To me this suggests a little too much of a rubber stamp. If its a test, I should fail if I don't meet the instructor's standard for me. I can go with the standard for me being just that...a personalized test for me relative to a combination of the overall dojo standard and the improvement my instructor wants to see from my last test. But there should indeed be some standard, and if I don't meet it, I should fail. And the failure (at least in my mind) and how I deal with it would simply be a part of my training.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-11-2003, 10:15 AM   #32
paw
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Ian,
Quote:
Paul, I can only offer my sincere admiration to a man who has never felt more pressured in grading than when just practicing. I can only assume either your dojo is normally pyschologically brutal or you have untapped skills we should all learn...
Whatever....

It's a test, it's not that big a deal. I've never asked to test, I've always been "politely told" to test, so it's accurate to say that I don't care about rank, and could have tested much sooner than I did, but never did. (But, one should note, I did test....so I do care about rank on some level)

Besides, it's just like class. There's you, there's someone else and there's someone dictating what technique to do. Want to see me nervous...shiai. There's you, there's someone else who has been training as hard as you, who's as conditioned as you are athletically, who you have no idea about (what they are good at, their setups, their strategies) and will, to the best of their ability kick/punch/throw or submit you .... as hard and as fast as they can --- and in some cases with no concern about your health and welfare in the process.

Ron,

I'll respond when I get a chance....

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-11-2003, 10:39 AM   #33
happysod
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Ron, thanks for the explanation, totally agree with you.

Paul, if you really can take your tests with the same aplomb as in normal practice, I'd say that you're not being graded properly - whether it's because your experience in other areas makes the test too "mickey mouse" or because it's too structured for you. I'd even go as far as saying you were being slightly cheated by your dojo in this area because, as you say yourself, you do have some investment in the ranking system. Surely they should give you a chance to feel you've earned the rank?
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Old 08-11-2003, 10:46 AM   #34
Alfonso
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I would imagine that it may be boring after a while to notice that there's nothing left to improve in your Aikido; did this happen at a kyu level, or later on during the yudansha period?

I thought the operating principle in aikido was masakatsu-agatsu. My tests have been more of a struggle with myself than with ukes; and hopefully they become less than that with time. At my 4kyu test I almost took my partners wrist off when I felt him slip from a nikyo; At my 1kyu no one was hurt:-)

What about those who chose Aikido and are not competitively built? At the last shodan grading I saw, I was really amazed at the differences I saw remembering this guy who would fold under the least heat a few years ago and nowadays is solid and skilled..

If he'd started his first years testing by combat he wouldn't have made it I'm sure; a little later maybe; now I'd say he can.

And testing has been stressful for me too, since I haven't usually waited to be told but sought to test usually when I feel i'm not quite ready.. one day I'll really screw up, but the situation becomes a challenge.

ok you can feel sorry for me now.

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 08-11-2003, 11:41 AM   #35
akiy
 
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Quote:
Ian Hurst (happysod) wrote:
Surely they should give you a chance to feel you've earned the rank?
Personally, I believe my "rank" was earned through the results of my daily practice -- not through the results of my last "exam"...

-- Jun

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Old 08-11-2003, 12:05 PM   #36
paw
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Ian,

See Jun's response. He captures my feeling exactly.

Alfonso,
Quote:
What about those who chose Aikido and are not competitively built?
What about them? I'm afraid I don't see the point you're trying to make.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-11-2003, 12:30 PM   #37
Ron Tisdale
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I think his question is "do they have a right to a non-competitive practise that does have a ranking structure". I believe they do have a right to such a practise.

Ron

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Old 08-11-2003, 12:37 PM   #38
paw
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Quote:
I think his question is "do they have a right to a non-competitive practise that does have a ranking structure". I believe they do have a right to such a practise.
I agree. Was anyone arguing the contrary?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-11-2003, 12:45 PM   #39
Alfonso
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Paul,



my point is that testing, as it is in Aikido, where progress is not measured "objectively" in trial by competition , allows people who are not "warrior material" to practice a physical discipline where they do in fact get to progress in that direction. Their ranks might not be meaningful to others, but to them they are proof of their effort and recognition for their prpgress, in the eyes of people who have been with them along that progression.

On the other hand, maybe there should be a right to engage in competitive training without risking being labeled a heretic or a bad influence, or just plain smelly .

It seems to me Ron, that the situation that exists already favors the first group.

What if there were formal competition aikido ..but for yudansha only?

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 08-11-2003, 01:01 PM   #40
Ron Tisdale
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Quote:
It seems to me Ron, that the situation that exists already favors the first group.
Well, the second group already exists in at least one tradition (shodokan). I say if someone wants to introduce it somewhere else...go for it.

I believe judo has two ranking structures...one for kata, and one for randori.

I'm working on a longer piece with my thoughts on this topic...if and when I ever get it finished, I'll post it.

Ron

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Old 08-11-2003, 01:36 PM   #41
Erik
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Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola (Alfonso) wrote:
On the other hand, maybe there should be a right to engage in competitive training without risking being labeled a heretic or a bad influence, or just plain smelly .
I like being a heretic and a bad influence.

By the way, I don't think Paul is talking about competition. It is interesting how people react to this sort of discussion though.

Last edited by Erik : 08-11-2003 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 08-11-2003, 01:50 PM   #42
Alfonso
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oh, I think I got confused; I thought this was about testing in Aikido , vs what testing "should" be in Aikido.

In re-reading it seems to me Paul is arguing about the results of said testing, or not?

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 08-11-2003, 01:52 PM   #43
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Paul,

As I beleive I said in my original post, I too have no particular problems with rank being awarded without exam. In fact has some have hinted at, often (too often for me) by the time the testee steps on the grading mat the certificate is practically printed. In otherwords allowing someone to grade is effectively awarding the grade.

Having said that though I return to my ancillary point that in an environment without formal competition (which *many* aikidoka train in) gradings are useful barometers of how we adjust to stress. You say you've never found a grading even a little stressful? Good for you, you must realise this puts you in a minority. Everyone I know feels differently. We can argue back and forth about how much stress is involved or if there is a better way to generate it but it's irrelevant. Unless I want to abandon my organisation (and I don't)this is the tool I have. And it's useful. I know this because in the past I've felt my technique was not my best in a grading, and I've watched my students techniques deteriorate at a grading. Which makes for a useful teaching tool.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 08-11-2003, 02:13 PM   #44
Erik
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Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola (Alfonso) wrote:
oh, I think I got confused; I thought this was about testing in Aikido , vs what testing "should" be in Aikido.

In re-reading it seems to me Paul is arguing about the results of said testing, or not?
Or, maybe I'm confused and I agree that we are talking about tests.

The thing is I see the word competition used a number of times in this thread but I don't see Paul using it. Maybe I missed the post?

If I understand the BJJ ranking process it's not competitive-based, rather, it's application-based and skill-based. They aren't the same thing although we tend to see them as the same thing.

Admittedly I'm playing around with the words, a little bit, but it's interesting how quickly we interpret them in a certain specific way.
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Old 08-11-2003, 02:26 PM   #45
Ron Tisdale
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Paul used words such as "sparring", "completely uncooperative uke", and "shiai" (japanese for competition). I don't think it strange that some might think he has a bias toward that format. I also don't think shiai should be a "dirty word" in aikido. But that's just me.

Ron (now, I also might be influenced by previous conversations with Paul, good ones too)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-11-2003, 02:34 PM   #46
paw
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Michael,

Bottom line:

You said a grading exam isn't as stressful as competition or combat. My question was simply: Then isn't it a bit of a disservice to make any combative claims if the student never experiences anything close to combat?

Forget the rest, answer the question.
Quote:
I know this because in the past I've felt my technique was not my best in a grading, and I've watched my students techniques deteriorate at a grading.
The myth of peak performance. Some days you're the windshield and some days you're the bug. If this is a common occurance for students during anything (testing, a particular drill, a particular technique) that would indicate to me that there is a coaching issue that needs to be addressed. (For example, I guarantee the same thing will happen with students that are fatigued.... as an instructor, what does that suggest to you?)

Alfonso,

I submit that grading in aikido is so subjective with criteria varying so much among different instructors, different dojos, different organizations, etc... that cross-comparision isn't possible. With such great diversity, all rank is subjective, and however it is awarded (or not) is perfectly fine with me.

Like Erik, I am a heretic with regards to rank (and other issues) ......

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-11-2003, 03:12 PM   #47
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Paul

I have purposely stayed away from your question, "isn't it a bit of a disservice to make any combative claims if the student never experiences anything close to combat?" Why? Because it's not what this thread was about, and I really don't want to get into a discussion about whether aikido is effective for self defence. It's been done so often in so many places I am simply bored by it, and I very much doubt anything new would come out if we were to go round and round on it (assuming of course that we disagree)

You think it's a coaching issue that waza changes under stress? I guess it's a matter of how much it changes but it's pretty much common sense that you are going to perform differently in optimum conditions than you are otherwise.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 08-11-2003, 03:39 PM   #48
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well I guess everyone has good points.

LOL, one of the other most beaten to death topics is ranking in Aikido (testing included)

.. so let's drag Steven Seagal into this one and make it complete.

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 08-11-2003, 03:42 PM   #49
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And the bullet dodging. Never forget the bullet dodging...

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 08-11-2003, 03:45 PM   #50
Erik
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Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Paul used words such as "sparring", "completely uncooperative uke", and "shiai" (japanese for competition). I don't think it strange that some might think he has a bias toward that format. I also don't think shiai should be a "dirty word" in aikido. But that's just me.
Why is a 'completely uncooperative uke' a competitive uke? Why is sparring competitive? Neither of those are inherently competitive acts or states. Even a contest can be used as a measure of one's ability rather than as a competitive act. They can be, and they often are, but they don't have to be.

I can be pretty uncooperative as an uke, and competitive, at times , but at least some of the time when I'm uncooperative it's because what they are doing wouldn't produce the result they think it would. I know that I appreciate that sort of thing, at least some of the time . You can also spar with someone and use it as a way to expose openings or improve timing.

We tend to paint with a really broad brush when we start using the C-Word and it puts us in a really narrow place regarding what our practice is, or more importantly, isn't.
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