A few weeks ago, I requested permission to officially embark on a path to test for the rank of Nidan, which Gaston Sensei approved.
Requirements for the rank are as follows:
- Mastery of core techniques -- both as Uke and as Nage. The only "new" technique is Koshinage.
- Must express desire to test at least two years from attaining Shodan
- After formal request, at least one year, with documentd 150 hours of training. Hours teaching do not count.
I want to talk about that first requirement (the other two are pretty straightforward). "Mastery" -- that's a big word. I think that, in order to consider myself having "mastered" the core techniques to a level sufficient to be worthy of the rank of Nidan, I will be expected by my Sempai to show the following:
- I must show precision and control -- this is a hallmark of what we teach at the Kai.
- The techniques must come naturally. I shouldn't have to "look for" them in any but the most unusual of situations, and even then I should be able to navigate to them if needed.
- I must know the technique deeply enough to teach them consistently to a wide variety of students at all levels. This means knowing the typical pitfalls and knowing how to help students work their way through them.
- No matter what I'm doing, I must show a level of poise and confidence appropriate to the rank.
In addition to what I think others will be expecting of me, I think there are some things I'll be aspiring to for my own satisfaction. I suppose these are also things I would expect of other students reaching the rank of Nidan, but that's not my place yet.
- Variation: I need to be able to show variations of the technique in different styles. This includes different "dialects" within our own Kai, as well as variations from other styles of Aikido. To accomplish this, I am committed to increasing my attendance at Seminars, and try to visit other dojos when I travel. I think it's important to show other styles because not everybody is the same. Different body types, mind sets, Ukes, athletic ability, strength levels, situations -- one style simply can't work best in all of them.
- Randori: This, in my mind, is the true test of Shodan, and even moreso for Nidan. I have a long way to go before I feel I'm proficient at this.
Well, so be it. Thanks to all my training partners over the years -- especially those students who attended my Saturday class for the last 2.5 years. I will be leaving that class behind for a while, to focus on Nidan training, and to do some other things on Saturdays for a while.