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Old 01-29-2005, 12:18 PM   #1
TheWonderKid
Dojo: Memorial University Aikido Club
Location: St John's, Newfoundland
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 49
Canada
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A little advice please

Recently (last night actually) I took my 6th Kyu test, my very first after about 5 months of training or so. To my mind it went horribly. I feel as if I screwed up at least half of it, and techniques that I have done, and done well, became difficult. I couldn't start the technique properly or my feet were wrong, etc. As one thing went wrong it began to cascade into other things. When demonstrating stikes I had uke stand as a target and no one bothered to tell me I was supposed to stop before contact (I didn't nail him or anything as I attacked and let almost all of my power flow out before contact).

While I was told I had a good test and not to worry about it, I feel very disillusioned and my confidence has taken a beating. I'm sure I'm much better than I was on my test, but if I couldn't show my Sensei this, am I really? Or perhaps was the actual act of taking the test a factor in my failings?

I really do love doing Aikido and in that spirit, I'm trying to blend with this experience, though it is difficult to say the least. I was really hoping to impress my Sensei and instead I performed at way below what I could have done.

So after all this, I'm just wondering if anyone has had similar experiences and how they reacted to it or perhaps just some advice from other Sensei's who have seen students in similar situations. I really have no desire to stop Aikido as I said before but I really need to find a way to do better next time and hopfully restore some confidence in myself and a way to show my Sensei that he has trained me better than I did on my test.

Thanks
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Old 01-29-2005, 12:43 PM   #2
Jason Tonks
Dojo: Bracknell Ellis School of Traditonal Aikido
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Re: A little advice please

Hello there Owen. Feeling in a grading that we have performed below par is a perfectly natural feeling. If you have high standards for yourself, you should never be satisfied with your performance. Try not to view it as a failure, just steel yourself to show even more resolve and try even harder the next time. Gradings are as much about about a students character as they are about technique. All you can do is give as good an account of youself as possible. There is no more anybody can do than this. BTW you shouldn't be stopping short of striking Uke. This is a meaningless practice, which neither Tori or Uke benefit from.

All the best
Jason T
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Old 01-29-2005, 01:07 PM   #3
Huker
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Canada
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Re: A little advice please

I agree. I am retaking my 6th kyu test on Monday (my sensei has high standards and I didn't meet them last time). Since I started Aikido, I've been really concentrating on my form when I'm doing anything in the dojo. I find that it helps a lot to do this. Don't worry too much about the test you just did. If you want to change, just raise your personal standards and make sure that you know what you're doing through and through before taking your next test.
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Old 01-29-2005, 01:13 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Dojo: Roswell Budokan, Kyushinkan Dojo, Aikido World Alliance
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Re: A little advice please

I spent my first year going home and beating a hevay bag. I was sooooo frustrated. I think my Sensei promoted me out of compassion and pity. But, he also saw that I was training with genuine and honest intent and intensity. I wanted, okay still want, to learn Aikido. Aikido works off an entirely different physical and mental model. It takes a while, and I look forward to that day. A lot of people have test anxiety and performance problems when they try to hard. Your Sensei probably already knows what you can do or they would not have asked to to test. Now, get back to training.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-29-2005, 01:45 PM   #5
Huker
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Re: A little advice please

"I am retaking my 6th kyu test on Monday (my sensei has high standards and I didn't meet them last time)."

Sorry, I meant to say I'm retaking my 7th kyu test.
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Old 01-29-2005, 04:07 PM   #6
Jonathan
Dojo: North Winnipeg Aikikai
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
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Re: A little advice please

Hey, Owen!

Your tale of test difficulties reminded me of my ikkyu test. I wasn't aware of this, but my shihan had told my ukes to give me a hard time. And give me a hard time they did! One guy was shodan-level in some form of Karate, so he began to use his skills in this art to their fullest when attacking me. He came full blast - almost at a dead run - punching with full speed and power. When he would grab me he would yank violently in whatever direction he could to off-balance me. The first time he came at me I threw him with the same degree of force that he had used to attack me. But, Kawahara sensei immediately told me to slow down. Slow down? How was I supposed to do that when he was attacking me like he was?! I had never, until my ikkyu test, applied my technique on someone who was using so much force in their attack. Well, as far as I'm concerned, my test was awful. I was trying to treat my ukes carefully while they were trying to maul me! It seemed to me an impossible situation in which to succeed. I got yanked right onto my back a couple of times in hanmi-handachi waza. I also found myself very angry by the end of the test and very tempted to do something rash to my uke who I thought was being an unmitigated jerk. After my test the one guy who was going nuts with the attacking came up to me and apologized for his excessive use of force. He told me that Kawahara sensei had ordered him to do his best to attack and upset me. I cooled off after hearing that, but expected sensei to fail me. He didn't. Getting the pass was as embarassing as doing miserably on my test because I felt that I hadn't earned it. I'm still not entirely sure what the point of the test was. Clearly, clean performance of technique wasn't at issue. I can tell you, though, that I trained very differently after my ikkyu test. I wasn't going to repeat that performance ever again!

Don't sweat your performance too much. Learn from it, but leave it in the past.

Keep on training!

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 01-29-2005, 06:23 PM   #7
Adam Alexander
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Re: A little advice please

The solution to your problem is to practice more.
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Old 01-29-2005, 10:21 PM   #8
TheWonderKid
Dojo: Memorial University Aikido Club
Location: St John's, Newfoundland
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Re: A little advice please

Thanks a lot everyone for the advice, it really does help to have an opinion from someone who practices Aikido and can give an objective viewpoint.

I really found myself crestfallen after my test, but perhaps it was a good thing in that now I know the importance of 150% effort at any given time.

Thanks again, with luck my 5th kyu test will be much better.
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Old 01-29-2005, 10:22 PM   #9
TheWonderKid
Dojo: Memorial University Aikido Club
Location: St John's, Newfoundland
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Re: A little advice please

Quote:
Tanner Hukezalie wrote:
"I am retaking my 6th kyu test on Monday (my sensei has high standards and I didn't meet them last time)."

Sorry, I meant to say I'm retaking my 7th kyu test.
Best of luck with it, I'm rooting for you
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Old 01-29-2005, 10:44 PM   #10
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: A little advice please

You're not just tested on the day.
Your sensei is watching you every day, and he knows whether you're worthy of the grade or not.
The test is more about putting you under pressure and watching you react to it.

The first test is usually the hardest, from the nerves standpoint. You aren't quite sure what to do out there & all of a sudden it's like he's speaking another language. You'll get used to it.

Congratulations getting through it. :-)
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Old 01-30-2005, 12:50 AM   #11
Bronson
 
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Re: A little advice please

Quote:
Owen Matchim wrote:
I was really hoping to impress my Sensei
Don't worry about impressing your Sensei because, to be blunt, you won't. Whatever you do, good or bad, your Sensei's seen it before. Give the best you have that day and don't feel bad for it....if it's not good enough so be it.

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 01-30-2005, 01:49 AM   #12
Robert Cheshire
 
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Re: A little advice please

Quote:
Stuart Norton wrote:
You're not just tested on the day.
Your sensei is watching you every day, and he knows whether you're worthy of the grade or not.
The test is more about putting you under pressure and watching you react to it.

The first test is usually the hardest, from the nerves standpoint. You aren't quite sure what to do out there & all of a sudden it's like he's speaking another language. You'll get used to it.

Congratulations getting through it. :-)
This was more or less what I was going to say!

If it's one of my students - I don't let them "test" unless there is a 90 - 95% chance they are going to pass. If I am testing them I have watched them in class with and without them knowing it. I ask them what areas they feel weak in and we work on it.

There are also different expectations for each kyu rank. I don't test a 7th or 6th kyu near as hard as I would ikkyu. If they are having a bad test, but, normally do well in class I take this into consideration. I don't believe in testing too hard for the first promotion. It should be a learning experience. If it makes you feel better - I have seen dan ranked people be asked a yellow belt technique durring their exam and pause with a confused look on their face (the switch from dan level techniques to yellow throws them off at first).

I also agree that you should NEVER stop short on a punch! You do need to control power and placement. If you train to stop short then you will if you ever have to reaaly punch.

Good luck with your training and future exams.

Happy Throwing!

Robert Cheshire
Yoseikan Budo/Aikido
www.yoseikanbudo.us
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Old 01-30-2005, 02:51 AM   #13
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Pressure & Experiance

Quote:
Feeling in a grading that we have performed below par is a perfectly natural feeling. If you have high standards for yourself, you should never be satisfied with your performance.
Having attended lots of tests in our dojo, I have rarely seen the tested student feel his test has been good, including some excellent tests which gave the impression the student was almost ready to grade for the next level.


Pressure is the thing that separates a test from normal execution. One of the students in our dojo has lots of real life encounters experience. Talking with him after his Shodan test, he admitted he was under more pressure from the test then he was when in real life danger.
Since in the last few years I am sometimes advising my sensei on grading, I have to pay close attention to the tests. And one of the first things I have noticed is the persons reaction to pressure. Almost everyone starts the tests very strict and stiff, and starts softening up only after a few minutes. However, experience does help, and more advanced students, who have had some experience working in front of the group usually suffer less and recover much faster.
Wishing to impress Sensei is also a handicap. It takes your focus from being here and now into something outside. Try to refrain from it in the future.


Amir
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Old 01-30-2005, 06:37 AM   #14
TheWonderKid
Dojo: Memorial University Aikido Club
Location: St John's, Newfoundland
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Re: A little advice please

I should clairfy, when I mean I wanted to impress my Sensei, I didn't me in the sense "look what at me!" What I meant was I wanted so show him that I had been working hard and that I was worth spending the time on in class. I know all students are but I guess it's just one of those student reactions.

Again, thank you to everyone for the advice. I feel much better than I did after my grading.
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Old 01-30-2005, 07:24 AM   #15
makuchg
 
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Re: A little advice please

Remember that your sensei is already impressed, otherwise he/she wouldn't recommend you for promotion.

Gregory Makuch
Wandering Ronin
Chesapeake, VA
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Old 01-30-2005, 05:52 PM   #16
JayRhone
Location: St. George, UT
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Re: A little advice please

Aikido - The art of beating down ones ego and building self confidence. Your test went fine, Sensei would not pass you if you didn't earn it. -Jay

Be the water, not the rock
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Old 01-30-2005, 08:19 PM   #17
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: A little advice please

We are really the worst judges of our performances, in all areas.

Jeanne
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Old 01-30-2005, 08:55 PM   #18
maikerus
Dojo: Roppongi Yoshinkan Aikido / Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
Location: Tokyo
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Re: A little advice please

In my opinion, an instructor already knows what the student is capable of and that an instructor should allow a student to take a test only when they know that the student has at least a chance of passing. So...hopefully you were already technically proficient enough to pass.

To be a little bit blunt, 6th kyu is not worth very much in the greater scheme of things and worrying about being perfect at that rank is a waste of time. Your instructor would not have passed you if you didn't meet his or her requirements for your first test.

That being said, learn from the confusion and pressure you felt on this test. In your next test how you handle that will probably count for more than it may have this time.

And...as others have said...you will (hopefully) never be satisfied with your own test. That just shows that you believe you have more to learn...as do we all.

My few yen,

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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