Surprise grading

Discussion in 'Aikido' started by SuperFLY, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    So I turn up to my Aikido lesson yesterday expecting a normal lesson and it started out normal enough...

    Did our warm-up, practiced our ukemi and then sensei usually picks some of the class to go one end of the dojo and the rest the other. normally its me, my friend i started Aikido with and another guy down one end to do 1st form and the rest of the class who are more experienced to the other to do 2nd/3rd etc..

    this time he told us to go up the other end of the dojo. somethings up..

    then out came 'the book' and it started dawning on us.. this is our 1st grading!

    we started out doing some stances, movements and ukemi's along with a few kicks and punches thrown in for good measure, then onto the techniques. my usual luck shone through and i was picked to go first so couldnt watch the others to remind me. both my uke's were either side of me one right side technique then the other for the left.

    my instructors started saying names of techniques and i went through them. had a problem with one technique on the left side with my mate (reason being he's a lanky sod so its sometimes hard to take his stance properly) so they told me to try left side on the other guy we were with and i did a perfect technique. then tried my mate again and did it ok. slight adjustments needed i think :) i forgot a couple of the names but they said thats not whats important, they dont mind if you're unsure of the name as long as your technique is good. so with a couple of prompts to remember (i.e. 'the zig zag one' and 'windmill' were enough to jog my memory) i got on with it

    was rather critical of myself but overall i thought i did ok.


    next up was my mate Rich. as said he's a lanky sod and can pull off some very good techniques when he uses it but he's very inexperienced with martial arts in general and his fitness level is quite low so it doesnt take long for him tire. that said what he does have going for him is he has actually been reading the book our assoc. chief instructor wrote so knows the names well including their meanings and knows whats expected in a technique. unfortunately executing that technique is a little different. he did ok, had a few mistakes but worked through them. his downfall is mainly left side as we dont practice that as often and being lanky he has some trouble at times with his ukemi. (something you cant really practice at home) although he is improving.

    once Rich was done it was Peter's turn. he's been doing it a couple of months less than Rich and I but he comes from a martial arts background and picked it up quickly. he quite often performs his techniques better than we do. unfortunately it seems he has problems performing under pressure. his mind kept going blank when asked to do techniques and it was horrible as i really wanted to give him some help. i tried moving my hand a bit to 'push' him in the right direction which helped but unfortunately he was having some problems.

    once done some of the higher belts were called for their grading and we had time to go through a few things. once Peter was relaxed again i reminded him of the names and movements of a few he had trouble with and we all practised the forms again for a while. Rich then got some advice off another student to help him with his ukemi (turning the hand inward and using both arms imagine you're holding a beachball that can only give/squeeze so much. his problem was his arm was collapsing under him as he rolled bringing him down on his shoulder rather than using it to guide his roll. improved a lot after that. (no more horrible 'thuds' into the mat' heh)

    once everyone was graded we sat down and got the news.. I passed!! :D they said they were very happy with my knowledge and techniques and my punches and kicks were excellent but that wasnt surprising due to my karate training. chuffed :D

    so i am now officially a 6th kyu (still white belt, but i've now 'earnt' it)

    unfortunately both Rich and Peter didnt pass. they said rich had a good knowledge and just needed some fine tuning so they'll probably re-grade him in a couple of months. with peter they said the techniques he remembered were very good but unfortunately he just couldnt remember enough on the spot.

    ok so white belt isnt a huge thing but its my 1st Aikido grading and I'm quite happy with my performance especially as I had no idea it was going to take place.. onwards and upwards!

    now to concentrate on my 0.5kyu black stripe belt grading for karate in a month
     
  2. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    'Surprise' gradings are the best sort :D. It's even better when you don't know you are being graded, which is what happened to me when I earned my shodan :).
     
  3. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Congratulations! I know how you feel. It happened to me just before I left Korea. I had been practicing and gotten all the techniques for 2nd Dan in Hapkido. But it was time for me to return to the USA. I knew I would not have an opportunity to do a practice test, much less be scheduled for the actual 2nd Dan test. I showed up for the last class and one of the Asst Instructors was there, and said "You are doing your 2nd Dan test, right? I am??!! Well I did and passed. I was very thankful to my GM, but asked him how it could be. He just said he was a GM, and was allowed to do those things when necessary. Who am I to artue. ;-)

    Again congratulations, and good luck on your upcoming test in Karate. Actually, I don't think luck will play any part in your test. Let us know how you do.
     
  4. MPC1257

    MPC1257 Yellow Belt

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    Congratulations on passing your test. I was a nervous wreck for my Kun Tao Yellow Belt test(which was scheduled), so I am very impressed that you did so well on an unscheduled test.
     
  5. sfs982000

    sfs982000 Master Black Belt

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    Well done! Congratulations!
     
  6. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    thanks everyone, much appreciated :)

    its a strange thing, my instructors said they sometimes warn you, they sometimes dont. it is of course good to know its coming so you can prepare but they like to see how you react spontaneously as well, i guess it proves the knowledge is actually in there and not just crammed the night before.

    i guess it also had the benefit that as we didnt know it was happening we werent worrying about it coming. it actually suits my personality. im a person that doesnt worry about things until its too late to worry about them and at that point theres no point worrying about it :D did get the old heart rate going though when we realised what was happening.

    thanks again all, twas a good day
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Congrats. Sounds like good times. :)
     
  8. Sub

    Sub White Belt

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    Congrats,

    We had 2 1st kups grade to black in a 'surprise' grading at our Dojang. 1 in particular was very reluctant, she had a fair bit of self doubt and concerns about the fee. Although described as a 'pre-grading', both girls did well and both got their black belts (to their surprise).
     
  9. seasoned

    seasoned MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Unexpected but prepared, congratulations.
     
  10. Aikikitty

    Aikikitty Master Black Belt

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    Congrats!!!
     
  11. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Congratulations!
     
  12. hussaf

    hussaf Green Belt

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    I find this type of testing most common in aikido styles. When properly applied I find it has its uses, however, I find it often misused and overused. Often it becomes a crutch for those who are unable to handle the pressure of a testing situation and teachers unwilling to actually affect positive change on their students' development. People get way to worked up about their kyu tests, which are basically arbitrary anyway. To me, if a student is nervous about testing, they should be forced to overcome that fear and be pushed to excel and better themselves. Conversely, if a student tends to get lax, lazy, loose focus, and screw off during class a 'surprise' and 'secret' test is a good way to check that student's motivation. A couple failed tests will get him or her to at least make an attempt to expand their ability to focus.

    I am also of the opinion that dan tests should actually 'test' the individual, not just be an auto-promotion. Interesting that, in my experience, schools who historically fail their students tend to produce some of the better technicians.
     
  13. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Gotta disagree with this.If you're routinely failing students, then perhaps you need to ask yourself why. Students should be 'graded' contunally, and if they're not ready, they don't test. In MY experience, schools who historically fail their students are doing it to pocket the testing fees.
     
  14. hussaf

    hussaf Green Belt

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    You shouldn't routinely fail any particular person just to do so...just if they don't meet the standard set by the teacher. It is way more common for schools to auto-promote students who can't get through basic movements than it is for schools to fail students in mass numbers. I'm just talking about a little quality control...which aikido often lacks. And, if a student fails a test, they shouldn't have to repay to retake it. That would be messed up.
     
  15. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm just saying that failures ought to be fairly rare. Students ought to be, in my opinion, graded in each and every class. If a student is 7th geup and they're performing the material at a level appropriate for a 6th geup, they ought to test. If they're not, then they ought NOT test. It's really that simple. Failing students, in anything other than extremely unusual circumstances, means that students are testing when they're not ready. And that, to me, means the instructors are doing a poor job. Good teachers don't set students up for failure.
     
  16. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    Happened to notice this thread again and thought I'd post an update :)

    My friend Rich has now re-graded and passed! We're now back to being the same grade; I perhaps would have graded again but I had 3 months off beginning of the year due to a shoulder problem.

    Unfortunately the Peter guy that was training with us disappeared over Christmas and hasn't been seen since :/

    On the plus side it now means I have someone the same grade to practice 2nd form with, heh

    It was pretty frustrating actually, the 0.5kyu or 'intermediate black belt' grading I was going for in Karate I passed without any issues but my shoulder injury happened right when I was meant to be grading for my full black belt so I couldn't grade :(. I'm now 6 months behind where I'd planned to be, but that's the way it goes sometimes. My grading is now set for October and basically every single training session I do is going through all the basics, kumite and kata I'll need for it (With the others thrown in randomly to make sure I haven't forgotten them, heh) so I should definitely be ready when it comes up. Been thrown in the deep end with my sensei as well and at my secondary training sessions I end up doing a little teaching, taking the younger students through their kata. Not something I'm overly comfortable doing but it's all part of the territory so I just get on with it :)123
     

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