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  • First testing

    Hello, I'm new to the forum and have been doing Kendo for only 5 months. My Sensei said she wanted me to get bogu for competition in the fall, but i'm not sure i should have gotten it so soon, due to my lack of experience. I did end up getting it (from e-bogu) and hope to test in the fall. I highly doubt i'd be ready, and my Sensei said i should try for nikkyu for now. What should i expect and how does one go about testing. I know there is a written test, and potentially shiai, right? I know Kata 1-4 and a decent amount of terminology. my Kirikaeshi needs all kinds of work, though.

  • #2
    From the AUSKF website:
    6th-kyu through 2nd-kyu can be awarded at the dojo level depending on the regional federation. Other federations formally test for these grades and some have age restrictions for children. 1st-kyu and above are done through the formal examination process. While it is normal to have both adults and children testing for the same level of kyu there can be a great deal of difference in the basic skills between the adults and children. Most often the children have been doing Kendo much longer and have much better basics than the adults. However when the mental maturity of the adults is factored in this should not be a problem. An experienced examiner will understand this kind of situation and grade accordingly. (see attachments for skill guidelines used by some regionals)
    You probably won't need to worry about kata at this point. Best thing to do is ask your sensei and/or dojo mates.

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    • #3
      Well, if your sensei says you're ready to test in the Fall, then she's looking at your progress thus far and judging that, by then, you'll be ready at your current pace.

      For 2.kyu, you don't even have to worry about kata.
      Definitely work on your kirikaeishi, would be my recommendation...

      At a normal testing, you kinda wind up in a 3-man rotation...
      1 vs. 2, 2 vs. 3., followed by 3 vs. 1
      IIRC, 1 will do kirikaeishi against 2... then 2 will do kirikaeishi against 1... then 1 vs. 2 for a very short jigeiko....
      1 moves off the floor and waits...
      3 will do kirikaeishi against 2... (MAYBE 2 does kirikaeishi again, but MAYBE not, I forget now).. afterwards, 2 vs. 3 for a very short jigeiko...
      2 moves off the floor and is finished.. then 1 vs. 3 repeats as mentioned...

      If you're doing an in-house promotion, then it's hard for me to say just what to expect.. but what I describe above is pretty typical of all the testings i've seen at regional federation testings (for the SEUSKF)...

      continue to work hard and good luck!!

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      • #4
        Thank you very much for the information. We're actually a new club at CMU (very new, lol) so i doubt we'd be able to do in-dojo testing, which is why i have to do it through the AUSKF. Could you give me advice on relaxing my shoulders during practice? I have a good mindset and remain calm easily in the middle of practice but my strikes suffer from my shoulders' tenseness. And for kirikaeshi, it's difficult for me to do it in two breaths; is there a method to train myself for the breathing?

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        • #5
          If you are afraid you won't be ready, then work harder. If you sensei is pushing you to test, then that is a sign that you can be ready in time. Remember that the first few tests aren't as strict as you may think. We are all our own worst critics.

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          • #6
            Do the American kendo peeps do official gradings below ikkyu?

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            • #7
              Jo --
              yes, some do.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Shinsengumi77 View Post
                Could you give me advice on relaxing my shoulders during practice? I have a good mindset and remain calm easily in the middle of practice but my strikes suffer from my shoulders' tenseness.
                Over time, something generally clicks in folks' heads to get them to relax their shoulders, but that doesn't mean we don't get tense -- especially at tournaments or gradings. For me, I really have to do a lot of suburi or kirikaeishi or kikari geiko or jigeiko to get loose or slightly fatigued...
                During practice, the deeper you get into it, the more relaxed you should get (as you get more tired)...

                And for kirikaeshi, it's difficult for me to do it in two breaths; is there a method to train myself for the breathing?
                Just keep doing it, trying to go as long as you can... repetition should help build endurance....

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                • #9
                  I remember now, several times when Fox Sensei from MSU came to oversee our practice and he ran us through some more vigorous training. At the end he said our strikes were much better because we were so tired. Thank you for your insight. I'll be training hard to become a competent kendoka.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Shinsengumi77 View Post
                    ...a new club at CMU (very new, lol)...
                    Which CMU? Carnegie Mellon University?

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                    • #11
                      no, Central Michigan University

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                      • #12
                        Ahh, I was hoping for a fellow Pittsburgher.

                        My first test (which was only a few months ago) was easy in retrospect but very nerve racking. Simple requirements, just kirikaeshi and then a short shiai, but standing in front of a panel with no one else in the room moving, knowing my sensei was watching and judging how I represented our dojo put mind numbing amounts of pressure on my fragile brain. I performed about half as well as I did in the tournament the day before, and was humbled and embarassed.

                        My advice is take a deep breath and concentrate on your opponent, slow your heart down and do what you do every practice in your dojo back home.

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                        • #13
                          when I first tested, one of our yondans told me to concentrate on men and kote strikes only and not to try do strikes.

                          What the judges are looking for is competency at the level for which you are grading.

                          In the ECUSKF, for a first testing, we recommend that the candidate not specify a particular kyu grade in their application. This allows the judges to award what they feel is the appropriate grade. Besides, if you specify that you want to test for, say, sankyu, and you don't pass, then you will not be awarded any grade below sankyu.

                          Now, for ikkyu, it's a whole different setup, and it's harder for a reason - this is one step from dan and (insert not-so-humble-personal-opinion) if you're not properly prepared for dan, you shouldn't be ready to take the ikkyu test, because of the higher standards. I don't mean you should be as good as someone in the dan ranks, I mean you should be PREPARED to begin a more rigorous kendo training once you pass ikkyu.

                          As always, this is always opinion based on my part, except for the third paragraph, which is factual.

                          BTW, Rob W., where did you test? I recall the last ECUSKF test was in March at Lexington, with the one before that at Ohio State in November.

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                          • #14
                            Thank you both for your insight. I'd like to test and let the board decide, and get the rank i've earned up until this point, be it ikkyu or not - i don't mind as long as i actually earn it. I'm not sure how MWKF tests go (about specifying or not specifying testing for a certain rank) so i guess i'll just give it my best and see for myself. I would love to undergo more difficult training though (if i get ikkyu). And we've covered do but we've been concentrating more on men and kote.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by joekc6nlx View Post
                              BTW, Rob W., where did you test? I recall the last ECUSKF test was in March at Lexington, with the one before that at Ohio State in November.
                              In Cleveland, hmmm, a couple months ago. I can't remember the exact date, it was the tournament that Kato-sensei from NYC attended.

                              The tournament and godo-keiko were tons of fun, only my second. The grading was, as I mentioned, a little more embarrassing.

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