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Old 02-15-2005, 11:53 AM   #1
Steve Mullen
Dojo: White Rose (Sunderland)
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Grading too fast???????

Im busy gearing up for my 3rd Kyu in early March and a couple of my friends (in other martial arts) think that this is too fast since i have only been a student in the art for a year and a half.

personally i would like to think that it is because i have seemed to be able to grasp the basics of aikido reasonably quickly and my sensei think im ready to progress.

do you think some organisations grade people too fast so they can have classes of high grades to look good on paper?

do you think that there should be a time period between all grades, or should it just be when the student is ready.

would love to hear what you all think

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:08 PM   #2
justinc
Dojo: Enso Center, Redmond
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Re: Grading too fast???????

I would recommend you having a read of the various Aikido FAQs as well as more general martial arts FAQs. This is a topic that comes up frequently. Groups do not necessarily hold the same idea of what a particular rank means.

Justin Couch
Student of life.
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:10 PM   #3
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
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Re: Grading too fast???????

Quote:
Steve Mullen wrote:
Im busy gearing up for my 3rd Kyu in early March and a couple of my friends (in other martial arts) think that this is too fast since i have only been a student in the art for a year and a half.
It dosen't matter what your friends think, only what your sensei thinks

Quote:
Steve Mullen wrote:
do you think some organisations grade people too fast so they can have classes of high grades to look good on paper?
It's not unheard of. The only way to find out for sure is to train with folk from lots of different organisations.

Quote:
Steve Mullen wrote:
do you think that there should be a time period between all grades, or should it just be when the student is ready.
Grading is such a complex subject that I'm still thinking about it. Fortunately I don't have to grade anybody, just help other students to train for gradings, and I'm very happy with only that level of responsibility right now
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:16 PM   #4
Steve Mullen
Dojo: White Rose (Sunderland)
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Re: Grading too fast???????

[quote=Ruth McWilliam] It dosen't matter what your friends think, only what your sensei thinks


cheers ruth. thats what i thought and i know that my sensei loves me so thats all that matters

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 02-16-2005, 08:55 AM   #5
Jordan Steele
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Re: Grading too fast???????

I know some martial arts organizations grade too fast in order to keep students motivated and paying the fees but my experience with Aikido is that students are usually graded too slowly. In my dojo, we usually have two testing days per year and if sensei thinks you're ready then you test and vice versa. Tests don't really matter a whole lot in the kyu ranks of Aikido though. It's just memorization really, quality is a natural biproduct of repeating the same movements over and over again. I know students that have never practiced a martial art in their life and have made it to 1st kyu in just over a year. Some people just get it and it's senseis job to cultivate that.
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Old 02-16-2005, 05:00 PM   #6
Jack Simpson
Dojo: Western Maryland Aikikai - Frederick, Maryland
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Re: Grading too fast???????

When I started in aikido I already held rank in a couple of other martial arts and had been through a few tests. I decided on my own to give myself a year between kyu ranks when I started testing in aikido to allow ample time for techniques and philosophies to sink in.

Also our practice was that the student asked the sensei to test and he would either ok it or not. There wasn't any pressure to test quickly, in fact, just the opposite. As the previous poster noted, aikido ranks tend to come slower in many cases.

Now that I have a dojo, as a general rule, I tell folks off the street, with no previous experience in anything, that it will be about a year before they are ready to take their first test. It might be a bit sooner if they've studied something similar to aikido, but there's still terminology to get comfortable with, etc.

Also, since we are a "satellite dojo", I want my students to be solid when they test at the main dojo, so there won't be any questions. In the end, the kyu ranks are giving you the curriculum that you need when you test for shodan and above. Take things too quickly in the beginning and it will be readily apparent when yudansha gradings come.

Jack
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Old 02-16-2005, 06:42 PM   #7
maikerus
Dojo: Roppongi Yoshinkan Aikido / Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
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Re: Grading too fast???????

I think the point about it being up to your instructor is the best one.

I personally believe that there should be a minimum number of classes as well as a minimum amount of time (months/weeks/years) between gradings. Once both prerequisites are reached then a person should be eligible for the next grading.

My few yen...

--Michael

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Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 02-16-2005, 06:51 PM   #8
jss
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Re: Grading too fast???????

I graded relatively quickly for my dojo, 2nd kyu in four years, average of 6.5 hours mat time a week. (Although I must add that I practiced judo from age 6 to 14.) I have the feeling I deserve that 2nd kyu, but I also think I lack some maturity. The fact that I am the youngest person (23 if you want to know) of the higher kyus probably has something to do with that as well.
Nevertheless do I think that training several years results in a 'fuller' (better words are welcome) aikido than the same amount of training in a shorter time span (although that has other advantages).
So my advice would be that it's up to your teacher to decide if you deserve the grade and up to you to decide whether you'd be comfortable receiving it.
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Old 02-16-2005, 07:24 PM   #9
senseimike
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

In my dojo, we have a set hourly requirement for testing. Once the hours have been reached, it's not a guarantee that you will be tested at that time. There are many other factors that are taken into account. The student is told when they should be getting ready for testing, and usually won't ask the instructors to test. In many cases, the instructors know the outcome of the test before it's performed due to their evaluation of the individual student during regular class time.

I have seen cases where students progress very quickly through the ranks. This is usually achieved by memorization of techniques that are quickly forgotten.

I can identify with Joep Schuurkes when he talks about being a young person and being of a senior rank. I was always one of the youngest in my Sensei's class and earned my shodan at age 20. It took me 7 years to achieve that rank and that made the shodan mean more to me because I felt like I had actually earned it. In my opinion, racing through the kyu ranks and achieving yudansha levels too quickly cheapens the rank.

Mike Taylor
Godan
Chief Instructor, Rising Star Aikido
South Bend, Nebraska, USA
www.risingstaraikido.com
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Old 02-16-2005, 07:28 PM   #10
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

The thing I find strange is how a lot of people say "the rank isn't important: the skill level is", yet wait forever and a day before each grade.
Why not give people a challenge; say "I expect you to grade next whenever" and give them the incentive to train hard and progress themselves?
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Old 02-17-2005, 12:17 AM   #11
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

3rd kyu in a year and a half?...That's not too far fetched...I mean, I have a buddy in a Korean martial art that started about a year and a couple months ago and he's already to Brown Belt Senior!...

That shows that not all arts hold ranks to the same requirements and time, but I believe that if your instructor is confident in your ability then you're ready...

Bryce
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Old 02-17-2005, 09:22 AM   #12
SeiserL
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

IMHO, its up to your Sensei. If they say test, test. If they say pass, pass. If they say fail, fail. No matter what your rank or when you test, focus on the 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 02-17-2005, 10:50 AM   #13
ian
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

Grade as soon as you can. Grading is a way to formalise the knowledge that you have learnt. People learn in different ways and at different speeds. Because you are a higher grade doesn't mean that you are better, but it does mean that your sensei feels you have competence in the techniques required to reach that grade. Long term training over years is the only way to drill the techniques into you completely, but that isn't what a grading is testing. Usually they are asking - can you do 'this' and 'this' technique to an adequate standard.

Compare someone who practices ikkyo alone for 1 year to someone who practices 10 -20 different techniques. Which one is better? - who knows?

So, go for it and keep grading as long as your sensei feels you should.

Last edited by ian : 02-17-2005 at 10:52 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-17-2005, 01:02 PM   #14
jonreading
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

Grading is tough. There are many aspects to evaluate, and things to consider. Your instructor should have a grasp of your development and represents the primary source to evaluate your skill. Many factors affect testing, some are not visible to your fellow students...

To be sure, there are some dojo that pad their ranks. I visited a dojo that tests every 2 weeks. I find this to be excessive. Testing burdens students, instructors, and the dojo administration; it should be used prudently and timely.

ASU has time requirements to act as general guidelines in development. This gives me the ability to compare student particpation against a benchmark, but also gives me a rule to back up my decisions.

In general, your rank should adequately reflect your skill, spirit, and knowledge of aikido. It should not reflect poorly on you, your instructor, or your dojo.
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Old 02-17-2005, 01:53 PM   #15
bcole23
Dojo: Eagle Rock Aikido, Ammon, ID
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Re: Grading too fast???????

My opinion:
I've seen dojos where the testing requirements are learning certain techniques and once you can do those techniques, you're ok to test.

I have gone to these dojos and uke'd for the resident udansha and found that, while their technique is technically sound, they are severly lacking in the "intangibles", and thus, their technique quickly falls apart. It's clear that they do not understand openings and the reasons why you do certain things. Not that I'm any expert in the matter though.

These intangibles are the things that training for a long time and with many different partners gives you. Learning the techniques and how they work from a purely mechanical point of view can take any person only a year or two. I feel that this would not qualify then for shodan however. The depth of Aikido comes from blending, timing, distance, etc. which in themselves are not techniques and are difficult to teach. They must be learned through practice practice and more practice. It has been said that there are innumberable techniques in Aikido and this is due to the dynamic aspect of the art.

This isn't to say that one cannot have an innate ability in this regard, but in my experience, it is an exception and not the norm.

Your sensei is the person who should decide whether or not you're ready to test, but you can also gauge where you think you are. I feel that senseis that were trained in more of a 'traditional' atmosphere tend to have the more in-depth ability to really gauge where people are. If you feel that you're going to quickly then talk to your sensei.

Note that I've also trained with people who've only been in 2 to 3 years that are really very good and have skill beyond their rank. The opposite holds true also.

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Old 02-26-2005, 07:57 PM   #16
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

Quote:
do you think some organisations grade people too fast so they can have classes of high grades to look good on paper?
Yes.
Quote:
do you think that there should be a time period between all grades, or should it just be when the student is ready.
Yes and no.

In the organization I belong to there is a minimum hour requirement for kyu ranks for testing and an hour/time in grade for yudansha testing. I think the hours and time in grade go to ensure that you are promoting quality. I think also that hours and time in grade can hold back quality as some students cannot attend class as often as others.

I wouldn't worry about it though. If your sensei is telling you to test then it is time to test.

Lyle Laizure
www.hinodedojo.com
Deru kugi wa uta reru
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Old 02-26-2005, 11:07 PM   #17
Clayton Drescher
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

I did 3rd kyu in about a year and a half, and I didnt feel ready for it at the time...but after the test I felt a alot better about my aikido. So, now as I'm becoming comfortable with my 3rd kyu self....I'll be testing for 2nd kyu in late March.

Part of the quick advancement, in my dojo at least, is that we've got lots of black belts, and lots of new people that joined in the past few months. So we've got most people at the high and low ends of the rank spectrum. I'm guessing my sensei is trying to advance of few of us more experienced whitebelts to fill out the middle so we can have a little better balance among the ranks. Also, I've been here a year and a half and other than my 3rd kyu test have not seen kyu-tests higher than 4th kyu. Maybe having the new people see a mid-level kyu test will help them see what to expect in the future.

Best,
CD
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Old 03-11-2005, 06:36 AM   #18
Nick Simpson
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Re: Grading too fast???????

Stop being such a sissy Steve. Just get up tommorrow like you dont care and kick some but what?

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 03-11-2005, 07:00 AM   #19
Peter Seth
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Smile Re: Grading too fast???????

Good Luck everyone!
JUST DO IT!
Consolidate your efforts then re-learn them at your new level.
Say Hi to WR peeps for me.
Pete
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Old 03-29-2005, 11:29 PM   #20
Hardware
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

I've been training for 17 months, 2-3 times a week. As a group, our dojo tested for our 5th kyu last fall (the others in the dojo had been training for a year before I started).

A few weeks ago Sensei told me that on our upcoming grading, I would test to "jump" a kyu.

This past Sunday, I did the 4th kyu grading with the other 5th kyu ranks. Later on in the testing I took ukemi for the 3rd kyu folks grading for 2nd kyu. After all the regularly scheduled testing was finished I was called onto the mat and two uke were designated. The biggest difference I found was that they came at me with pretty much full force and full speed (they were higher ranked kyu's).

I just found out that apparently I passed. I don't know if I've moved up too fast - I never asked for this - Sensei approached me. This was after consultation with the other senior sensei's in the association, many of whom have seen me train at one point or another.

The bottom line, trust your Sensei (assuming he's competent and reputable).

(I don't think I will ever be as nervous as I was for the two weeks leading up to this last grading - am I ever GLAD it's over)
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Old 03-30-2005, 05:37 PM   #21
Ki No Nagare
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Re: Grading too fast???????

Hmmm....may sound strange to a lot of you aikidoka's out there....

but in my dojo......we never take a test.....when you have progressed enough you will get the grade........

He is very picky about who goes up or not....because he wants that the level of his students have to be very high...

what are your opinions about this?
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Old 03-30-2005, 07:00 PM   #22
samurai_kenshin
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

at my dojo my sensei has certain lengths of time before you can take your test. I'll be working on my shikyu test soon. Soon sensie will ask me if i'm ready. If I say no, I can have as much time as i need to get ready. If I say yes, I set up a time to test and she either passes or fails me. Generally people know when they're ready so sensei rarely fails anyone. Incidentally the most failed test is shikyu *trembles* (Only 33 training days left!)

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
-Barry LePatner
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Old 03-30-2005, 07:19 PM   #23
siwilson
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Re: Grading too fast???????

Quote:
Stijn Donders wrote:
Hmmm....may sound strange to a lot of you aikidoka's out there....

but in my dojo......we never take a test.....when you have progressed enough you will get the grade........

He is very picky about who goes up or not....because he wants that the level of his students have to be very high...

what are your opinions about this?
You asked so...

I think he should test you if he is picky!

Osu!
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Old 03-31-2005, 12:35 AM   #24
AaronFrancher
 
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Re: Grading too fast???????

That is a very important question that has caused me many sleepless nights because of a few students. But I have come to the conclusion that if you believe you're ready and your instructor does as well, then you should be eligable to test for advancement. However, if there is doubt in either mind, I believe more one-on-one practice would be beneficial before reconsidering the advancement.

It is not simply a fight to the finish, it is knowing what to do once you have won.
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Old 03-31-2005, 10:53 AM   #25
Tony Hudspith
Dojo: Hartlepool/Peterlee
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Re: Grading too fast???????

Hi
It took me 2.5 years to get to 1st Dan with Sensei John Emmerson 5th dan but that was because I was training 5 times a week at a high tempo. If you train once a month it's obvious you'll take longer. It's all about what you feel inside yourself, if you feel like you're rushing it don't grade if you don't then do!!!!! Hold your head up high and say you're doing Aikido because you want to not because of the grade you wear.
Listen to your Sensei, this is someone who has the experience to know what's good and what's not. And besides, you've already said you're Sensei loves you anyway.
Keep training hard and good luck for the future my friend.
Tony
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