Saturday, September 24, 2011

The "P" Word

Ummm...that'd be "promotions" folks. Yep - grading was discussed vaguely in class this week. I was simply told to "prepare to look ahead towards the next level."

What that means is this: be ready for anything. Training partner Ed's nidan grading was mentioned then happened without him being told "tomorrow is the day." So sharpening, tightening and refining wasn't really an "OK - I've got to do THIS to prepare" sort of thing as it was for our shodan grading (we knew about that one for a year) - it just happened.

But truthfully, I don't believe there ever really is a date when the info you've learned and the skills you've acquired are "done" like cookies in the oven. A little less time won't make them a totally incohesive mess; neither will a little more time burn them to a crisp.

I had always envisioned my heart thudding like a drum and an overwhelming OMG! pause when I got the word, but none of that happened. I just sort of filed it away to think about later - after the Diamond Valley Classic tournament upstate in early November (six short weeks away!). What actually went through my mind was "That's cool - but I wonder if we're going to have time to spar tonight?" Grand championship on the brain, I guess :-).

So, no date or anything has been announced, just a slight mention that nidan maybe somewhere on the horizon. It was mentioned, we trained and now I can just continue to do the same and not have to really think about it. It is what it is.

In my head, I hear my senseis channeling a wine commercial from back in the day: "We will grade no karateka before it's time."

Or was that its (possessive) time? Ha - time will most certainly tell, that's for sure.


  1. Actually, merely speaking of the test in this context was providing an early warning thus leaving out the actual day means very little.

    In a fight you will be attacked because you were not even a little bit aware - period. It will happen fast, hard, very close and with almost complete surprise.

    In 1979 a what was a normal session began. As normal we ramped it up a bit to get the above three flowing, i.e. fast, hard, and close.

    Nothing was said before, during and after this particular session - the normal comfort zone.

    As was unexpected some new things were introduced. They met the hard, fast and close criteria but this time with a bit of chaos and unexpectedness not done every before in training.

    As class closed out for the night we formed a circle, ritsu-maru, and Sensei took the center spot as usual.

    He asked me to step up. He took off his obi and tossed it to me. He said, "Sho-dan." Waited for me to put it on and then said good night.

    Now, apparently that was a test. No warning of any kind. We attended all sessions as if they were tests. He would do promotions just like this, totally unexpected with no advanced notice ever - I mean ever.

    My point, simply stating a test will be coming removes any surprise.

  2. I've never had a grading that was not announced - probably because my first school graded with members from the organization - the whole clan included other schools with other senseis (same style). My current school grades kyu students alone (just memebers of the school), but they all know when and where the test will be held - including the shodan candidates. Things change a bit from nidan up, it seems.

    For me, grading is more than just sparring and self-defense. Sure, it's intense and lasts for about twice as long as a regular class - because they know what we can do when we are fresh and want to see what we can do when our tanks are empty - but we don't just fight and do ippon kumite and aikijitsu. There's more to it than that. Not saying we need lots of notice to prepare for that, but I would like my family to be there, if possible.