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Turn Around in Testing

I have decided NOT to take my 1st Kyu test.  Why you ask? here’s why:

So if you have not read my last post, I was going for my 1st Kyu belt. For the non-Aikidoist there are 6 belts under 1st degree black belt. Different dojos will have different systems in place but for mine it goes 6th Kyu then 5 to 4… 3…1st Kyu then 1st degree black belt (1st Dan). 1st Kyu, the belt directly under black belt shouldn’t be taken lightly – it is an indicator of the skill, knowledge, character, and being that you’ll be bringing to the black belts of the world!

I was meeting up with my partner a week before the test date and instead of what would be training, turned out to be a long talk

And boy was it a talk! It was about what it meant to be a black belt. Yes, a black belt in Aikido? More specifically what it meant to be one in the “school” of Aikido that I belonged to.The talk was long (~40 minutes) and coming from one of the best black belts that I’ve ever met, I realized that I had extended too far, too soon, and too egoistic in my training (for a long story short).

I had started at my current dojo on August 2008; it is now April 2010. I trained from 5th to 2nd Kyu (3 belts in 12 months), and currently I have only been a 2nd Kyu for 8 months. After having that talk I came to the realization that I was missing one of the key messages of what my Senseis’ were trying to teach us.

As mentioned before, my partner is one of the best belts produced by the dojo – as the talk went on I came to respect his honesty to himself, the art, as well as the respect he was presenting to me. Here was a man who had numerous black belts in several other martial arts yet only got his in Aikido after 7 years – which is a record for the dojo (believe it or not). For all intended purposes it was  a rude yet honest and thought-provoking wake up call.

Aikido is not something where you can blast your way through and get to black belt as fast as you can. It is an art – not a job or something you can memorize and be done with (“black belt factory” anyone?). It is not like regular school where you can simply float (or blast) your way through year after year, going up the grades – earning A’s (if you’re Asian you’d understand!). Aikido is an art that is earned – where the belts are just distractions; not indicators of your true level as a martial artist (or as a human being). I am still wearing my white belt even as a “brown belt” (2nd Kyu).

Gosh, a wake up call indeed! I don’t know what the future holds, but I will still be attending training this Friday (the testing day); more to come in the near future!

3 thoughts on “Turn Around in Testing

  1. It sounds like you’ve done some good introspection. I think ultimately if you feel good and right about waiting then it is the correct decision. Once you do eventually go for 1st kyu and ultimately 1st dan, it will be all the more meaningful.

  2. Pingback: What’s the rush? « Martial Musings

  3. Interesting turn of events. Echoing Matt really, you gotta feel right about your test. It took me 8 years to test for my black belt I was 1st kyu for some time.

    I took it all very seriously and wanted to do it properly. And when I got it, it was extremely meaningful.

    After all it’s not a race as such, as long as you’re still progressing in your training thats what really counts.

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