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Old 12-05-2004, 12:30 AM   #1
AikiWeb System
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Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

AikiWeb Poll for the week of December 5, 2004:

Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Prefer announced
  • Prefer unannounced
  • I haven't tested for rank in aikido yet
  • We don't test for aikido rank where I train
Here are the current results.
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Old 12-05-2004, 06:33 AM   #2
acot
Dojo: West Michigan Aikido
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 112
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

How about a selection for no preferance. I personally don't care when I am tested.
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Old 12-05-2004, 11:25 AM   #3
Taliesin
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

For myself the balance is in favor of announced tests. That allows all the stress and worry of an examination to build. Whilst i admit all these things are unpleasant, particularly for me, it still ensures an environment of testing under pressure which I think is essential. I'm not sure that unannounced tests really provide the necessary pressure for examinations. I do however stand to be corrected.
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Old 12-05-2004, 11:40 AM   #4
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Dojo: Jiki Shin Kan Utrecht
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Netherlands
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

I don't care. Both can be fun in their own ways.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 12-06-2004, 12:58 AM   #5
jgros
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

I definately prefer announced.

At my school, the test is a big social event and people come from all around. Sometimes they come from out of state or even out of country. Even if you are not testing you should come and support your fellow classmates. Sometimes we go out to lunch or dinner afterwards, but sometimes not. The point is that we try to act as family and enjoy eachothers company, while trying to appreciate the struggles we have gone through in the spirit of learning.

Our school encourages getting someone to mentor you as you train for the test. This gives you a good month or two of good one on one time. So announcing tests in advance gives you an opportunity to bond with this person. We Also hold practice tests to help eachother gauge where we are in our training. Testing is not necessary or anything, but it is definately part of the experience.

Plus its always fun to see the higher belts get thrashed around. The higher the belt test, the more likely the testee is to get slapped in the face . But thats the price of advancing I suppose.

Suppose I better get back to studying for finals.

jgros
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Old 12-06-2004, 04:28 AM   #6
Dan Gould
Dojo: Cilfynydd, Pontypridd
Location: Abercynon, Wales
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

I like unannounced. I think if I'm told when I'm due to be graded, I'll try harder, but be more stressed. While trying harder is a good thing, I should be doing my best at all times. So I think if it's unannounced, I have to do my best in case it's due, and then if I pass, it's worth the work and I know it's paid off. It's also more fun not worrying about when it's due. In aikijutsu I was recently graded, I knew it was coming up, and I was worried because I missed a month, that I wouldn't pass. Was an anxious time.

Conclusion: I prefer the surprise of "ok, you've been upgraded." over "your grading is in 4 weeks." or whatever.
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:05 AM   #7
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

I like the preparation time. We had two shodan tests this fall, and the whole dojo learned a lot from trying to help out. Even the low kyu ranks pitched in, stretched their ukemi skills, polished up their Japanese, looked in bewilderment at taigi we won't see again for years....

I also love the social aspect of the tests--people make an effort to come out for them, it's a big event. My enthusiasm for aikido was really spurred by the event that included my fifth kyu test--there were people testing for every rank up through first kyu, and it was so cool to see an entire progression from "Hey, maybe I could do that" to "Holy shit!" I think surprise tests would miss out on having such a good group energy. Most evenings, we have only 4-7 students in the dojo. I guess I'm enough of a ham to want a bigger audience; and enough of a junkie not to want to miss anyone else's test, ever!

And anyway, it's going to take the pressure of an announced testing date to get anyone to work on kata tori yonkyo tenkan, which is on my next test (third kyu) and which is rather an unloved throw. (My co-workers asked some anxious questions about the big purple bruises, last time.)

Mary Kaye
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Old 12-06-2004, 06:19 PM   #8
Qatana
 
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Dojo: Aikido of Petaluma, Petaluma,CA
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

I was at a seminar with my sensei's sensei. One of my teachers was called up to demo a technique, i believe we were working on a variation of iriminage. He did the technique and received the exact same correction that we get from him most often-"move more from center".
That was his Fourth Dan test. He passed!

I only have two sempai who aren't black belt ranked so I'm almost at a disadvantage as compared to Mary Kay, but I do like watching their tests (after mine!) and try to guess how long it will be till I can do that like them, and what I didn't realize I already knew. Although I would be interested in seeing how I would perform on a full-out ,unannounced 3rd kyu test in about a year...

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 12-06-2004, 10:55 PM   #9
Bronson
 
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

I guess I'm thinking of an unannounced test differently than others. The ones I've seen have been along the lines of "Bob, your testing in 10 minutes...hope you're ready". Not the sudden awarding of rank for something the student didn't know they were being tested on.

I've had both and can do both. For me I like the idea of unannounced because I feel that you should always be preparing for the next level so that you shouldn't need any special training to pass it whenever it arrives.

YMMV

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 12-08-2004, 07:37 AM   #10
DavidEllard
Dojo: Dunstable/Dinton
Location: Milton Keynes, Uk
Join Date: Nov 2002
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

For us we tend not to announce the lower kyu tests, certainly 5th (our first grading) will normally take the pattern of the student(s) being asked to go out th front for a few weeks and go through techniques from the syllabus, this build till they eventually are used to it and are doing the whole thing, then a few other things are thrown in to see how they deal.
Assuming it isn't a disaster they are awarded at the end of the night - this has the benefit with newbies of nobody actually failing they were just doing a "mock".


For higher grades a different approach is used, and a lot of focus goes into the preperation for of a grading, which is done at a public event twice a year.
Not so much the tequiniques, which as Bronson says should be there by that point, but more the whole "crispness" and "focus" that is needed in a grading.
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Old 12-08-2004, 09:29 PM   #11
Bronson
 
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

Quote:
David Ellard wrote:
but more the whole "crispness" and "focus" that is needed in a grading.
I understand what you're saying but, for what I want out of my tests, I'd disagree. Personally I want my tests to be an honest reflection of what my technique is at that point in time. I don't want it to reflect something that I've polished over the last few weeks. If my shomenuchi sankyo sucks, it should suck on the test. I tend to think of a test as me having the undivided attention of the most experienced people in our dojo. They are there to help correct my mistakes, they can't do that if I try to hide those mistakes.

Again, that's just me. Other's do it different and I'm ok with that

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 12-09-2004, 04:38 AM   #12
DavidEllard
Dojo: Dunstable/Dinton
Location: Milton Keynes, Uk
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

Quote:
Bronson Diffin wrote:
IAgain, that's just me. Other's do it different and I'm ok with that
Bronson
Not too different, at the lower grades we do the same thing, drag people out, put them under pressure, see what works, what doesn't.

People don't really fail their grading on a club night - at some point it mysteriously turns into a mock exam instead...

For the public ones though (1st kyu and up for us) i guess i see them more as a showcase for the Dojo. If i do badly, it would reflect in a negative way on my teachers (which i don't want to happen).

For me personally i've also found recently that the focused work i put in before my 1 kyu exam has reflected well on my Aiki in general... It's certainly helped eliminate some "fluffy" elements that has slipped in...
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Old 12-09-2004, 09:34 AM   #13
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
Location: Bristol
Join Date: Sep 2004
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England
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

Quote:
David Ellard wrote:
For me personally i've also found recently that the focused work i put in before my 1 kyu exam has reflected well on my Aiki in general... It's certainly helped eliminate some "fluffy" elements that has slipped in...
For those that favour testing or gradings (and I'm one of them) this is one of the benefits that they give.

Without the pressure of some form of test its all to easy to tread water.

Once you've made an improvement to reach a grading standard then usually you don't slip back too far when training returns to normal post-testing.

Cheers

D
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Old 12-09-2004, 01:28 PM   #14
Bronson
 
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

Quote:
David Ellard wrote:
Not too different, at the lower grades we do the same thing, drag people out, put them under pressure, see what works, what doesn't.
That's funny...we do the opposite. The kyu grades are scheduled and you know in advance if you've made the list. The dan tests are usually much shorter notice ie: "The heads our organization are here so you're testing tomorrow."

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 12-09-2004, 03:52 PM   #15
fatebass21
Dojo: Tenshinkai Aikikai
Location: California
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

I dont know what everyone else thinks about the way my Sensei tests us, but we dont get tested at all. In fact, he tests us while we are training, but he keeps it to himself. The only thing is, it does actually take a month or two longer than it usually does to progress to the next level.

-Chris-
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Old 12-09-2004, 04:19 PM   #16
disabledaccount
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Re: Poll: Do you prefer your aikido rank tests announced (planned) or unannounced (surprise)?

I personally prefer dojos that don't test at all. In my experience it actually takes longer to advance throught the ranks with a teacher that grades according to skill and merit, and the quality of his/her senior students shows it. Also in this environment, it seems like students train harder throughout the year, instead of just cramming at a few key points. This is especially true of dojos that randori long and hard. You tend to get all of the "testing" you could ever hope for in these sorts of dojos just by showing up to class regularly! Too bad "no testing" wasn't an option.
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