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Old 11-27-2004, 11:06 PM   #1
jitensha
Dojo: Aikikai of Philadelphia
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Hello all,

I was administered, for the first time in my martial arts career, a surprise promotion test on Wednesday night after our evening classes. This is atypical for our dojo. Usually, testing dates are announced and students have at least 2 weeks to practice the techniques.

I was wondering if unannounced testing is common or even the
norm in other dojos, and whether or not people feel that it is a better learning tool and measure of ability/development than announced testing.

Personally, I'm the type of person who likes to be fanatically prepared, so I was pretty shocked when I was suddenly asked to test immediately following 3 hours of class. Although I felt my techniques could have been more technically correct and better executed if i had practiced, the element of surprise forced me to have a mushin type of attitude toward the test. Made it a completely different experience...learned a lot about myself.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." (Bertrand Russell)
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Old 11-28-2004, 09:00 AM   #2
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

You said it yourself, unannounced testing has its advantages. But so does announced.

Jeanne
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Old 11-28-2004, 09:55 AM   #3
Larry Feldman
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

I've used both methods of testing.
When your teacher asks you to test it is because you are demonstrating that ability day to day in class. You have the skill level, now you need to demonstrate that to the class. He probably saw you exhibiting the appropriate skill and felt it was a good time for you to test. For some people weeks of preparation is better, and it can polish up technique, but on impromptu tests I allow leeway for not spending weeks getting ready. Trust your teachers judgment, he is setting the standard for the dojo.

It's about 'testing' everyday you practice - trying to learn and getting better.

Congrats on your test.
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Old 11-28-2004, 11:00 PM   #4
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Sounds like someones's sensei was tired of them dodging gradings & fixed it... ;-)
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Old 11-29-2004, 12:52 AM   #5
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

My sensei told our class that he would never throw a surprise test on anyone since the only time he had seen that done the testie had just returned from a big pizza lunch and promptly threw up when he heard about the test.
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Old 12-01-2004, 05:48 AM   #6
Dario Rosati
Dojo: Zanshin - Milan
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

There's actually a third way, at least for low ranks

My sensei, for our first exam, "announced an unannounced" exam: he said we will act as in test for the next 4 lessons, but didn't reveal which one was the real exam... maybe all of them where, maybe only the one where a godan friend of him came to watch... who knows?

Personally, my only concerns about surprise is the name of the techniques, which I still find difficult to master in all the variants I've trained in at this stage and surely need a special rethinking the day before the exam... but I don't think a few day of pre-advice may change a year of practice, so by a technical standpoint I think surprise or not, you'll do on the mat exactly the same stuff.

Bye!

--
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Old 12-01-2004, 06:08 AM   #7
Tim Griffiths
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

I'd like the best of both worlds - a couple of weeks of a student concentrating on getting a movement technically correct, not being flashy, fast and whathaveyou. This can be some of the best technical training of all.
Then I want to spring a test on them, to see their reaction.

All in all, I prefer anounced.

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 12-16-2010, 10:18 AM   #8
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Having just posted twice this morning, I couldn't keep from a third
when I found this topic. I'll read more of it later, it's fascinating.
Iwas "guilty" of unannounced testing when teaching at the local
YMCA. I had heard of the Asian custom of announcing to the
ancestors, about high school grades and graduations so I told
my students I had to let my teachers know about the students in a
formal way, so I tested them and sent in on the official forms.
As Spock of Star Trek said, "It seemed to be the right thing at
the time."

Sometimes it just seems to be a good day when enough people
are there, and in good spirits, and you just feel you have to go
ahead with it. When I next log on, I will look to read the rest
of the posts on this thread. I guess my post reactivates a thread
from 2004. This is probably a good thing, because perhaps
others might want to join in, since it has been about 6 years
since the last person posted.
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Old 12-16-2010, 11:50 AM   #9
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Our tests are almost invariably announced. Several years ago I was called up to do a third kyu test with two other students. I had been 3d kyu for about 18 months at the time. I thought nothing of it and did the test along with the others. I got recalled immediately after sitting down to do my 2d kyu test. I was surprised and I did it, but did one technique pretty poorly. My attitude at the time was that I had nothing to lose - the worst possible consequence was that I would fail, come back to training the next class, and retest sometime in the future. As a result the test was actually relaxing and fun and I passed. I prefer being really prepared for a test and that requires a lot of polishing and work during the off hours, but the unannounced test was probably my most enjoyable and a real highlight for me.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:07 AM   #10
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Quote:
Stuart Norton wrote: View Post
Sounds like someones's sensei was tired of them dodging gradings & fixed it... ;-)
ha ha ...yes - I've seen that approach deployed ;-)

As others have posted, both approaches have their merits.

Personally I'm in favour of using announced gradings to encourage the extra focus among those in the frame but at the same time we are not all the same ...If you leave some people to grade when they think they are ready they will never be ready.

So helping them help themselves is called for.

Cheers

D
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Old 12-27-2010, 12:24 PM   #11
Phil Van Treese
Dojo: Tampa Judo and Aikido Dojo, Tampa, Fl
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

I do unannounced tests for everyone, including yudansha. Either they know it or they don't---either they can defend themselves from an "unannounced" attack or they can't. It serves as a great self evaluation tool because I don't tell them what they did "wrong" but rather they tell me where they feel that they can improve and how. I don't throw in any "off the wall" techniques but I do expect them to react to an attack, enter and execute with effectiveness. I usually get great results.
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:30 AM   #12
Amir Krause
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

My Sensei has used both testing options on me

For the 1st Kyu and Shodan, I had a very long early warning, and practiced for weeks and possibly even months prior to the test.

My Nidan test was only announced after the test had finished. A friend was being tested for Shodan, and myself and another Shodan were asked to demonstrate various things while he was resting, between the test chapters. All of the demonstrations were in free-form types, thus did not require preparation and pre-agreement with Uke. E.g. instead of demonstrating grab releases with Uke doing several pre-set states in an organized manner, we walked around, close eyed, and reacted to Uke grabbing us as he wishes. We did not demonstrate strike techniques separately - only did free-play randori (both sides, attack, perform techniques and counters as they feel) with the guy testing for Shodan ...). After that guys test ended, Sensei and a couple of other Sempai (My Sensei has the authority to promote up to Yondan or so, in Korindo Aikido) consulted and then announced "the friend is Shodan and XX and me are Nidan", I did not know it had been a test until that point.

An announced test has the advantage of lettign the student prepare, the preparation stage often lets the student organize his knowledge, train more seriously and at times, even gets him to advance much further then without testing.

An surprise test, has the advantage of letting the student see his own level when surprised. An un-annonced test (like I had) has the advantage of student not having a chance to complain he is not ready (as I did every time a test as mentioned since the Shodan test) and no pressure.

Amir
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:00 PM   #13
nuxie
 
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

I have severe stage fright. I would really appreciate at least a one hour notice before a test and having to perform in front of a group of people who are all focusing just on me. If I had an hour to prepare my mind and splash water on my face and breathe etc I think i would do ok. But to spring it on me on the spot I would just die. So I sincerely hope that for my first test that I have a little bit of notice. On the other hand if I knew too far in advance the anticipation would kill me. So I just hope they set a date and say make sure you show up. especially since I will be testing in front of people I have only met once. I certainly do not want to make the people I train with look bad. HA. I am going to try to attend the dojo I will test at , at least once a month.
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:53 PM   #14
nuxie
 
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

you know just for shits and grins i thought I would get on youtube and look at how other people did on their first aikido test. I have to say it is not really all that bad. I think I feel more comfortable about testing now.

Mary
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Old 04-23-2011, 08:53 AM   #15
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Quote:
Mary Simonsen wrote: View Post
you know just for shits and grins i thought I would get on youtube and look at how other people did on their first aikido test. I have to say it is not really all that bad. I think I feel more comfortable about testing now.
It's easy to imagine something is much more difficult and scary than it really is isn't it?

Something I think is useful for any beginner to do is go watch tests at you own dojo before you have tested the first time yourself, if at all possible.

You'll see how the whole testing situation is run, what people do, where they sit, when to bow. And how other people do at their tests. And hopefully find out that the whole situation is less intimidating than the idea of it sounds.

Pauliina
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Old 04-24-2011, 03:25 AM   #16
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Best type of grading..... Makes sure students turn up for practice on a regular basis!! They never know when it's going to happen and if they miss their chance? Well they can only get better for the next one........when ever that is?
They don't realise until afterwards when the usual comment is flaming heck sensei, that was a really hard session, the thing is I would join in as usual as uke, as well as tori to "feel" what they were doing had substance, they wouldn't know till the following session that they had been graded..... Works a treat!!

Most of mine were off the cuff except the Dan grades, one of my problems I was not interested in grades just the practice.....

Last edited by Tony Wagstaffe : 04-24-2011 at 03:38 AM.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:13 AM   #17
ellie
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

I would prepare unannounced testing because, from when I find out to when I have to grade, I get so nervous and try to perfect the kata(s) and then during the grading I just think 'I have to do this and oh no i did that wrong'. Which means I don't do it properly.

If you don't know about it you just do the techniques the way you normally do, which is normally better for me. Plus you have to actually go often, my friend started training again 1 month before her grading, just so she would be the same grade as me.
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:58 AM   #18
Dave Forde
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

My 4th Kyu test was unannounced. I didn't even know I was being tested. it was a multiple attack that went on for about 10 minutes. as I stood there jelly kneed i was told I had demonstrated the ability to move and protect myself to that level. I am sure looking back that the whole class that night was also part of the grading process. I was quite happy to be tested that way. my teacher then explained that all the grade really was was a recognition among all the members of our dojo of the journey we undertake as a group. I kinda like that way of viewing the thing. however I think as someone else posted that that is more suited to the low grades. our club members who are at higher grades do grade externally at seminars etc.but there is no real heavy emphasis at our club on the grading or syllabus as such.

Last edited by Dave Forde : 04-28-2011 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:00 AM   #19
Shany
 
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

announced or unannounced.. if you practice Aikido for a long time now, than it doesn't really matter.. does it?

A good stance and posture reflects a proper state of mind
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Old 05-01-2011, 06:04 PM   #20
Zoe S Toth
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Hm, well I feel I should weigh in on this. I came into Aikido with no martial arts background. When I found out I was testing, I somewhat freaked out. Normally, in school, I excell at tests. But I had never seen a single test in Aikido before. Mercifully, our sensei rearranged the testing schedule so I was on the second day. I got to watch another girl test for 5th kyu before me; it was insane how much calmer I felt the next day.

If I hadn't been told (until the day of) I was testing, I know I wouldn't have done as well. Now that I have had one test under my belt (oh, puns!) I think I would be fine with unannounced testing. After all, I keep track of my hours so I should have a decent estimate of when I am eligible.

But that is just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-01-2011, 07:10 PM   #21
Janet Rosen
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

I've never done an unnanounced test but have always wanted to, just to see how I would do.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-21-2011, 05:17 PM   #22
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Today I had my first aikido test. It was unannounced and not mentioned until the class ended.

But I think the five of us quickly became aware we were tested, because between group training intervals, we had to pick our uke and show several techniques as tori only before the rest of the class.

I am 5 kyu now

Last edited by Dave de Vos : 06-21-2011 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 06-21-2011, 05:28 PM   #23
Janet Rosen
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Quote:
Dave de Vos wrote: View Post
I am 5 kyu now
Congratulations...now get back to training!

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:16 AM   #24
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Congrats.
As a teacher I give grades when I see fit. Sometimes during class I will ask someone to show a technique, or explain something.
I would hate to have my students train for the next grade instead of trying to understand Aikido. Much debate has been had over this topic, so to each his own

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.
Understand simply this: it is the way a teacher shows his/her appreciation of your hard work. Be proud for a (very) short time and go back to practise!

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 06-22-2011, 06:48 AM   #25
Mario Tobias
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Re: Announced Vs. Unannounced Testing

Quote:
Dave de Vos wrote: View Post
Today I had my first aikido test. It was unannounced and not mentioned until the class ended.

But I think the five of us quickly became aware we were tested, because between group training intervals, we had to pick our uke and show several techniques as tori only before the rest of the class.

I am 5 kyu now
Congrats Dave...now get back to practice!
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