In a sense, “testing” is not what we do at Aikido Eastside. It is more of a demonstration of a student’s attainment for everyone to see. Students in the “Beginner Program” are tested by the teaching staff for the 6th Kyu and 5th Kyu ranks. Final authority over Beginner testing rests with Alex Nakamura Sensei our Senior Instructor.
Kyu Test Requirements
Students testing for ranks 4th kyu and above will acquire a “trainer” or partner who will coach him or her and inform the Chief Instructor of the candidate’s readiness. He signs up to “test” for a particular “kyu rank” (the ranks that lead to Black Belt or “Dan” ranks) based on the amount of time put into training at the dojo (school). As the test approaches, the Chief Instructor, George Ledyard Sensei confers with the the “trainer” and the Asst. Chief Instructor, Kevin Lam, and mutually decide if the candidate is expected to be ready to “test” for a particular level. If there are problem areas in the student’s preparation, special attention is put on those in class as the date for testing approaches.
If the instructors feel that the problems are serious enough that they can not be rectified by the test date, the student is asked to wait until the next test date (tests are quarterly) and is advised what areas of the training need special attention. So it is extremely rare that any student does not pass a test because we attempt to insure that all students who do test are well prepared.
Dan Test Requirements
To attain the rank of Shodan or First Degree Black Belt does not mean that the student has attained mastery or is in some sense an expert in the art. In the Japanese martial arts, the first black belt rank simply means that a student has trained hard enough to have a solid knowledge of the basics or “Kihon Waza” and is therefore now to be considered a serious beginner.
The process is similar to learning to read where one must first master the alphabet, then learn to spell words, then learn the essentials of grammer and sentence construction before ever attempting to write literature. Black belt rank in the martial arts means that the student is now ready to really start studying the vast creative potential of the art.