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Old 02-21-2005, 12:56 AM   #1
Lorien Lowe
Dojo: Northcoast Aikido
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shodan exams

Hey all-
Any advice for someone freaked out about a pending shodan exam? I have a month and a half left to prepare, and I'm still getting butterflys in my stomach every time I think about it.

-Lorien
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Old 02-21-2005, 01:08 AM   #2
maikerus
Dojo: Roppongi Yoshinkan Aikido / Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
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Re: shodan exams

The best thing to do whether you are preparing for a demonstration, a test or a presentation is to practice it over and over and over and ... and over again. Really.

If your instructor thinks you're ready then you are. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't practice over and over and over and ... and over again. Really.

Good Luck

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 02-21-2005, 07:46 AM   #3
Eric Webber
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Re: shodan exams

Practice as you have been for the past several years, with the same enthusiasm and vigor as usual, with the same energy that lead your Sensei to think that you are ready to take your exam. Approach the exam as you would any other day of training, respecting the specialness of it, but also keeping in perspective that the next day you will still be who you are on the mat, with only a different color belt and maybe some extra training gear to trip over. Good luck on your exam, try to enjoy the experience.
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Old 02-21-2005, 07:56 AM   #4
ian
 
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Re: shodan exams

If you are going for Shodan it's no doubt they are looking more at how you do things than what you do. Do lots of gentle training with any attack and any response and get used to blending with the partner and responding to their body movement rather than forcing on a technique. Be able and prepared to change techniques if uke's body movement changes.

Sometimes they ask for jiyuwaza (freestyle) so be comfortable with doing a series of simple, different, techniques. Focus on body positioning, awareness, timing and blending.

Take the grading slowly - uke will move at your pace. Don't overly delay things, but pin slowly and with relaxation to give you more breath. Even during randori, move and take everyone with the right timing, do not rush around - which only stimulates them to rush around.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-21-2005, 09:07 AM   #5
Sigrun Hjartardottir
Dojo: Aikikai Reykjavik
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Re: shodan exams

I agree with Michael Stuempel, practice it over and over and over again. Really. I tested for shodan last april and I systematically went through the test material (what I knew off ) every day for the last month or so before the test. Then a couple of days prior to the test I rested, so by the time the test came around I was ready to go! - I actually found my 1st kuy test to be harder (definately longer) than the shodan test was. - So, good luck and remember to have fun.
-Sigrun
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Old 02-21-2005, 11:21 AM   #6
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: shodan exams

Don't have much to say for advice...seeing as I've not tested for shodan, but I'd like to wish you luck.

Good Luck Lorien.

Bryce
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Old 02-21-2005, 02:41 PM   #7
Aikiscott
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Re: shodan exams

Hi Lorien
I'm in the same position you are. I will be going for Shodan at the End of March. I can't say that I am freaked about it though, but this could all change closer to the date.
My main concern is my realy bad Suwari waza & Keeping enough air in my lungs to complete the grading, As I am a little over weight.

Good luck with your Exam & may the gods smile favourably upon you.
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Old 02-21-2005, 06:10 PM   #8
Bronson
 
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Re: shodan exams

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
I'm still getting butterflys in my stomach every time I think about it.
Stop thinking about it

I also recommend going to the dojo very early (if possible) on the day of the test and giving it a thorough cleaning. Think of it as misogi, as you clean the dojo you clean your spirit

Bronson

p.s. Some fresh flowers for the dojo on test day are always nice too.

"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 02-21-2005, 06:25 PM   #9
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: shodan exams

Yamada Sensei tells us to have clear openings, clear techniques and good balance and posture. And to be in good shape.

Jeanne
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Old 02-21-2005, 09:41 PM   #10
maikerus
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Re: shodan exams

Ian's got a good point. Focus during the test as you should during your training and don't try and rush it. Go at your own pace. If you've made it to your shodan test you have the skills and the muscle memory...trust in your training.

Good Luck!

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 02-26-2005, 06:48 PM   #11
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: shodan exams

Just breathe. Practice your material but in the end remember to breathe.

Lyle Laizure
www.hinodedojo.com
Deru kugi wa uta reru
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Old 03-04-2005, 03:16 PM   #12
Lorien Lowe
Dojo: Northcoast Aikido
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Re: shodan exams

Hi all-
thanks for the help. I like the idea of cleaning the dojo before the test.

Now that I've had a little time to get used to the idea I'm not quite as worried, but it's definitely in the back of my mind when I train. I've given myself permission to be a little more selfish in monopolizing sempai to train with.

Ian - Your dojo must be a little more laid back than mine. Tests are the times that we tend to cut loose. It's good - one feels that one has really been pushed to the limit, and usually the limit is a lot further out than anyone but Sensei would have guessed - but it's still intimidating when he tells the 200-lb uke, "Knock her down!"

-L
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Old 03-05-2005, 11:15 AM   #13
Jill N
Dojo: K-W Ki Aikido (Kitchener, Ont)
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Re: shodan exams

Hi Lorien:

I did mine almost 2 years ago now. Practice as much as you can with your buddies who will be your ukes. Remember that everyone there wants you to do a good job, so they are all rooting for you. Do everything in slow motion and you will be more relaxed and will move at a good speed (we all speed up under pressure) Accept the attacks with a feeling of "thanks!" and you will have a positive attitude. Your sensei knows you are ready for it, or wouldn't have recommended you to test, so all you are doing is demonstrating that he (or she) is right. Do things the way you have learned to do them. Have fun. If you are getting tense, think of something funny, and smile. (to yourself if you are in a serious dojo, ear to ear if that is acceptable)

good luck (you don't need it)
e ya later
Jill.
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Old 03-05-2005, 03:46 PM   #14
siwilson
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Re: shodan exams

Hi

I may be about to take a Shodan test too, even though I took my Aikido Shodan 5 years ago and Nidan 3 years ago! (Changed schools)

It is nerve racking, no getting away from it, but that is part of the test. Do you want your black belts to be those who can't deal with pressure? It is suposed to be stressful!

My Nidan was incredibly stressful, with a 9th Dan Grand Master of over 50 years in budo overseeing the grading. I actually could not speak at the end of my grading, as I gave everything and had nothing after. That is the black belt grading and why I hate them at the same time as sort of love them!!??

If you are ready, just do it, and don't worry about the worry! Be thankful you are not facing real knives and katanas - I hope you are not! Both of my Dan grading I was!

All the best wishes with your grading!

Osu!
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Old 03-06-2005, 06:03 PM   #15
Lorien Lowe
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Re: shodan exams

Today one of my sempai had me try on her old hakama, to see if I could borrow it until I can order one after the test.

Whew! It was almost scary to step into the thing.

-LK
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Old 03-06-2005, 06:50 PM   #16
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: shodan exams

Train yourself _hard_ up until the grading.
Flog yourself, so that on the day of the grading the physical aspect is not a problem.

Once you get out there though, you'll be fine. Just focus on maintaining the connection between you and your uke at all times and listening to the examiner, and the butterflies and other side stuff will disappear.
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Old 03-06-2005, 06:55 PM   #17
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: shodan exams

Quote:
Si Wilson wrote:
Hi
If you are ready, just do it, and don't worry about the worry! Be thankful you are not facing real knives and katanas - I hope you are not! Both of my Dan grading I was!
lol your dojo must have _insane_ insurance costs. ;-)

But seriously, do you mean live blades?
Surely that would make for hesitant ukes. ?
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Old 03-07-2005, 05:00 AM   #18
Taliesin
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Re: shodan exams

Coming form Shudokan, the same as Si previously did, I can say you don't necessarily get hesitant Ukes.

You have a Live Tanto go-Wasa for 1st Kyu with a set form and attack and then live tanto for Shodan. The atacks are, as far as my limited experience goes, committed and direct, so that you can read them. But by god are you aware of them.

The reason that ukes are not necessarily hesitant is that they normally have faith in Shtay to put on a technique.
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Old 03-07-2005, 06:45 AM   #19
Amir Krause
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Re: shodan exams

If you are not used to it, you should try and practice in front of the group, if only to demonstrate a single technique. This increases the pressure of many people, and even a singular practice can be very helpful.

Amir
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Old 03-08-2005, 06:29 AM   #20
Jonathan Punt
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Re: shodan exams

I took my Shodan last Summer, my tips would be:-

1) Make sure you know the syllabus inside out.
2) When you make a mistake carry on even if its not the technique asked for.
3) Pace yourself, dont go off like a steam train and find that youve got nothing left for the last ten minutes.
4) Work togther with your partner, ie dont do any counters or blocking of techniques.
5) Show you are in-control.
6) If your mind goes blank under pressure and you forget a technique dont be afraid to look around at what others are doing and copy them.
7) Dont keep looking at the panel to see if they are watching you, keep your eyes on your opponent and area surrounding you (so that you dont end up bumping into other people grading)

If all that fails, find a spot on the mat where they cant see you too well.
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Old 03-08-2005, 11:11 AM   #21
siwilson
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Re: shodan exams

Quote:
Stuart Norton wrote:
lol your dojo must have _insane_ insurance costs. ;-)

But seriously, do you mean live blades?
Surely that would make for hesitant ukes. ?
Yep, live blades, and I am not going to go all macho, as I don't see the point of using "live" bladed weapons, as long as you are train for timing, distance and balance.

If you are training the psycology of facing a weapon, you won't get that from a wooden knife. That leads to my pet hate, people who turn their backs on weapons!!!!! But are you training for that?

It was in a non-BAB school. Live weapons are not insured by the BAB. It worked because Sh'te and Uke worked together. If that harmony is not there ... potentially disasterous!!

I don't use them now and they are banded in my dojo!

Osu!
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Old 03-08-2005, 06:06 PM   #22
siwilson
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Re: shodan exams

Yep, live blades, and I am not going to go all macho, as I don't see the point of using "live" bladed weapons, as long as you are training for timing, distance and balance.

If you are training the psycology of facing a weapon, you won't get that from a wooden knife. That leads to my pet hate (with people never having faced real knife/sword), people who turn their backs on weapons!!!!! But are you training for that?

It was in a non-BAB school. Live weapons are not insured by the BAB. It worked because Sh'te and Uke worked together. If that harmony is not there ... potentially disasterous!!

I don't use them now and they are banned in my dojo!

Osu!
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