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  • How to know when you know?

    Hi guys, my first ever post on here so forgive me for any errors in my post.

    I have been training in kendo for 3 years now, I train heavily, and so over the course of about two years I was able to make it to first kyu.
    Then last November, I went for my Shodan, I was confident in my ability to pass, as my Sensei was confident that my preperation was sufficient.
    I passed my written exam, my katas, and all my wazas. Then came the sparring. I was ok for my first few rounds, but at around the fifth round, my body really started to feel it, and I knew that this was the point at which I had to let my mind take over, and carry me through the pain.
    Another five rounds later, and I was spent, but I still had my kakari-geiko to perform. I did my best, kept my kiai strong, my spirit up, and pushed through the pain for as long as I could, but being already exhausted meant that my body just couldn't keep up with my mind, and my technique started to decline.
    By the end of the grading I was physically drained beyond anything I had ever felt before, and as a result of the decline in my technique, I failed my grading.
    Evidently I was devastated, this was my first failed grading, but I have only let my failure harden my resolve.
    However, with the opportunity to go for my grading again getting nearer, I have begun to doubt as to whether or not I'm ready this time. I am much fitter than I was in my first attempt, but I'm not sure if my mind is strong enough to carry me through the pain again.
    My other main issue is, when I went for it the first time, I was quite confident, not cocky, but I felt I was well prepared, but my interpretation of prepared proved to mean nothing.
    So my question to you guys is, how do you know when your self confidence is well placed, how do you know when you know you're ready?
    Also, what did you do to prepare for your Shodan grading? Any suggestions in what I could include in my training?

    Thank you very much for reading through all this, and thank you in advance for your replies, they are all appreciated.

  • #2
    10 rounds of sparring? Where do they do this?

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    • #3
      I practice with a dojo called Australian Kendo Dojos, we practice a slightly different style and are un-affiliated with the Internation Kendo Federation.

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      • #4
        If I had had to get over 10 rounds of sparring plus a kakari-geiko, I would have definately failed my shodan shinsa.

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        • #5
          Yeah, our style can be very physically demanding, but the idea of the test is to prove that you can fight through the pain, mind over matter, so that your kendo becomes such a natural thing, you can perform correct technique even under immense physical strain, never having to think about the technique, but making it almost a reflex.

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          • #6
            Not sure what to tell you regarding preparation, nobody in FIK kendo concentrates so much on stamina for a grading, we are usually more concerned about technical things.

            As far as when you are ready, for shodan you are ready when sensei says you are ready.

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            • #7
              Our shodan exams are not nearly so intense so it's hard to answer your question, but I think when I joined by new (current) dojo my sensei said "what are you, shodan?" and I said "no, ikkyu" and he said "you have shodan kendo. You need to take the exam." So I did. Same thing happened with nidan.

              Btw, and sorry if this comes across as pedantic, but personally I think you should find a ZNKR/IKF dojo and try it out for a month. You might enjoy yourself. 10 rounds of keiko for a shodan exam sounds, uh, brutal.

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              • #8
                Agreed. 10 rounds of keiko for a Shodan shinsa?

                That's just silly machimso in my opinion.

                Shodan is a beginners grade and that's just where people start.

                So, don't get too down on yourself. You probably did just fine, and I would agree, maybe you should find an IKF-affiliated dojo.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scott H View Post
                  Agreed. 10 rounds of keiko for a Shodan shinsa?

                  That's just silly machimso in my opinion.

                  Shodan is a beginners grade and that's just where people start.

                  So, don't get too down on yourself. You probably did just fine, and I would agree, maybe you should find an IKF-affiliated dojo.
                  I've had 10+ rounds for a shodan shinsa, which took about an hour, but that was in a different art where shodan is not a beginners grade. Total exam was 4 hours long.

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                  • #10
                    Aside from everything that was said about the excessive lenght of shinsa... [+1 to what Neil and jj said]

                    If you need cardio, try to do as much kakarigeiko as possible, whenever is possible. Also, when training shomen or kote uchi, you could try to make it renzoku. But only do that if you are sure your posture is correct (easier said than done).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill View Post
                      10 rounds of sparring? Where do they do this?
                      This is MADNESS -- or maybe Sparta?

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                      • #12
                        lol 10 rounds and more after that, I would never grade :P

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                        • #13
                          So my question to you guys is, how do you know when your self confidence is well placed, how do you know when you know you're ready?
                          Also, what did you do to prepare for your Shodan grading? Any suggestions in what I could include in my training?
                          Well, I'm kind of an airhead, I never gave too much thought to a grading exam. Just go out and do whatever you have been doing for the past few years, right?

                          However, as it seems that your dojo is not affiliated to the FIK we can't really say anything about grading preparations.

                          If you feel that you're lacking in something, work on that, but (as always) the best answer is: ask sensei

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by John Ebsworthy View Post
                            I practice with a dojo called Australian Kendo Dojos, we practice a slightly different style and are un-affiliated with the Internation Kendo Federation.
                            So The examining committee is inside your dojo or national? your sensei is the leader of the examining commitee?
                            it could be interesting to know the standards of your shodan examination.

                            Originally posted by John Ebsworthy View Post
                            I'm not sure if my mind is strong enough to carry me through the pain again.
                            I'm not a "life master" or a guru, so keep my words for what they are... (I'm also newby in kendo)
                            I don't know your age, but I think this could be a great way to practice mental strenght and determination. To be Shodan or to be not is not a life question, it probably cares only to you ;-)

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                            • #15
                              Wow, it's been a long time since I made this post. I guess I should end the tension by saying that I passed this grading so it is possible. Just mentally and physically draining.

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