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  • grades

    Is there a too big emphasis on grades in Iaido, and do a grade reflect the same level of achievement in different iai-organizations?
    In a znkr context, you need a large panel of judges, isnt it 5 or 7
    7.dan for grading a godan? In a Mjer-organization affiliated to ZNIR, one teacher with rokudan-level was given authority to grade up to godan. This is maybe an exception, as it is hard to get a large panel of high-level teachers in his area.

    What is the norm inside japan, has ZNIR and ZNKR the same rules regarding gradings? Any thoughts on gradings and proficiency?

  • #2
    from a personal viewpoint and experience, it would be usual to be able to grade up to two grades below yourself, i.e in my case 5th dan can grade up to 3rd dan. Problems arise when you have people going for 5th dan and above in europe, with consensus needed of five from seven judges... not that many 7th dans about is there....
    Again personally, I have never seen the attraction of belt collecting, (kendo 1st dan after 20 odd years) although I thought it was important at first due to the other students talking constantly about their next grade. Now I do iaido because I want to, not because I want a load of belts, trophies etc..
    My main problem with grades is that it is detracting from time you could spend training, a good example is the big organisational seminars we all go to. One day dedicated to grading for all the teachers when they are here for seven.... The only good thing to say about them is that it puts you 'on the spot', a little bit of pressure for a change, although I find embu just the same as grading, my teacher is watching and all the rest of the class.
    I would prefer the old system, student, senior, master with about thirty years between each level.

    Tim Hamilton

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    • #3
      Well Put.

      Chidokan,

      Well put.

      In each art that uses grades, there are one or two grades that have any real meaning. In general, it is Shodan for empty hand arts, and Sandan for weapons arts - attaining these allow you to teach. The rest are just stepping stones along the way.

      HTH.

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      • #4
        Chidokan
        What is the format of a grading in MJER? As you are not tangled in the seite-web, you neccesarily do katas from shoden, chuden and okuden in mjer. What is set and what is optional in the different dan-levels?

        My personal view is that a iai- teacher should be able to grade people up to two grades below himself, and that different clubs should have regular embus, where you could display your skill under some pressure.
        The teacher would not then give his pupils "easy" grades, as they would be watched by the critical eyes of other iaidokas, and iai-teachers. A teacher would then only be as good as his students.
        I also think that taikai in iaido is a somewhat strange sight , even though it is a good didactic tool, as you usually can compete more often than you grade. Taikai has its prize. Like it was said, grading day takes away quality time, that could be spend learning. Likewise, preparing for grading, limits most people to focusing on whats needed for that, instead of diving into a wider pool of practise.
        This is of course rooted in the european iai- context, where I am highly dependent on the larger annual seminars to develop and broaden my skills.

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        • #5
          im not too bothered about the grades-they're a western thing anyway

          i just do it for the fun and intellectual stimulation

          in my case im probably not worth my grade anyway as unfortunately i dont get the teaching i need, and even practising on my own gives me bad habits which puts my back 2 or 3 steps from the level i get when training with chidokan

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          • #6
            The format for us is for first dan, first set of waza with a certain level of understanding. the panel will also ask questions, such as 'name some parts of the sword', safety points, etc. This gets more difficult for obvious reasons if there are a lot taking first dan... There is a written essay on an aspect of martial arts, and tameshigiri to prove you can actually cut... Second dan should show good competence of seiza no bu and the rest of the above applies as well.
            Sandan is tate hiza, 4th is oku iai tae hiza, 5th tachi waza. All levels after nidan are required to demonstrate some of the earlier waza to prove that they have not just concentrated on the requirements for grade, but their overall ability has risen.
            To be honest I think most of us dont care after, say, 20 years and 5th dan! The challenge for me now is to do good embu and demonstrate as well as possible to my students.
            We have asked a few times about the old method of 'grades' ie the levels needed to reach menkyo kaiden.
            Personally I would prefer to see this done as 'beginner, student, senior student, teacher, and finally senior teacher'. The problem is the current attitude in the West of "what grade are you?". I'm a beginner would be true in most cases! Lets face it how many grades do you want and how often do you want to take them! Late grade numbers would be getting stupid, which is why ZNKR have put a cap on the top grade.
            Prewar the top guys were only 3 and 4 dans!

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