On Tuesday evening, I completed and passed my 6th Kyu test at Aikido Shugyo Dojo. To say I was nervous is putting it mildly – not because I was unprepared, but (ironically I suppose) because I was worried about getting nervous and forgetting some key component. However, I managed to avoid any major snafus, other than one on my roll (which I suspected I would flub on the test).
I’ve been in training for this test for the last 3 months, and had a LOT of help from my uke (the person on whom I performed the techniques), as well as several of the other students, and of course the instructors, so I was certainly prepared on a technical level. I felt like I understood the technique, at least at the level I needed to pass. I had all the etiquette down, and finally made that connection in my brain between the Japanese names for the techniques and what my body needed to do when those techniques were called upon. As far as I could see, I was all set.
We had a pretty active warm-up, lead by Fran Turner Sensei, and since the lowest ranks test first, I was already a bit sweaty when I was called up. Being in front of a large number of aikidoka whom I have a great deal of respect quickly became nerve-wracking, but I managed to focus on the technique. When I caught my mind and heart racing, I forced myself to slow down and think carefully about what I was doing. As anyone who isn’t used to performing can tell you, this can be rather challenging.
At the end of the tests, the 3 sensei each gave their reviews of the tests. Overall, they seemed fairly pleased with my performance, with the exception of my roll. Their other warning was regarding my speed; one of the sensei felt I was a bit slow, while another felt that for this test it was fine, but the general consensus was that I’ll need to be ready to move more quickly for the next test.
Luckily, I’ve got 60 class hours to prepare for that! 🙂
I think the biggest surprise for me was the outpouring of positive energy I received from the people who watched my test. It meant a great deal to me that everyone was so supportive – I think I’m starting to understand why this is such a close-knit community.