Little House In Ise

Tests at Honbu
July 8, 2008, 18:44
Filed under: Aikido, Japan | Tags: , , , , , ,

On Monday, the last of the summer rank tests were completed [ed: turns out they were not the last for the summer]. Doshu called an end to class at what would normally have been the halfway point. We bowed out and Doshu left. Seki, Kobayashi and Irie Shihan came in and the doors were closed. Irie Sensei called the names of those taking tests. They lined up on the mat from lowest rank on the far right to highest on the far left. The rest of us stayed off the mat.

Seki sensei, sat to the left of the Shomen and Kobayashi and Irie sensei sat to the right. When each group of students testing were called up, they sat to the right of and perpendicular to shomen, facing Seki sensei. Uke lined up on the left side of shomen. There were three people testing for 4th kyu, two testing for 2nd kyu, one testing for shodan (初段), two testing for nidan (弐段) and one testing for sandan (三段). One of the sensei to the right called, “Shomen rei” (正面礼 : bow to the front), “otagai rei” (お互い礼: bow to each other) and the tests began.

The shodan test was very basic. Standard techniques (ikyou to yonkyou, shihonage, kotegaeshi, kaetennage, tenchinage, etc) and attacks were called and most were standing variations with only a little hanmi handachi (半身半立ち) thrown in. Three tanto tori variations were requested and jiyuwaza was called for katate-tori and shomen uchi. There was no randori for the shodan and no koshinage required.

The student testing for shodan was the second foreigner that day and he seemed to understand the Japanese that was being spoken around him. For people who do not speak Japanese but are still interested in testing at Honbu, the sensei were calling techniques using terminology that is familiar to anyone who has been studying Aikido long enough to be interested in testing at Honbu. 😉

For the nidan tests, two uke were called (I volunteered). One uke ran through the same paces as the shodan student though with a lot more hanmi handachi and longer jiyu-waza sections. When the uke were breathing hard the seconds were called in and we attacked with knives. The tanto-tori portion was also pretty short with only three variations requested. At that point, we switched to two-person randori starting with the both uke holding the the nidan candidate’s arms in _firm_ morote tori. It was fun!

This was the sandan candidate’s second attempt at this test. For his test, three uke were called and the presiding teachers called every standard technique in the book — all from hanmi handachi. The guy looked as though he was about 40 and was quite stout as well. He was blowing hard by the time the first uke was discarded as being worn-out. The second was told to strike and whole lot of jiyu-waza followed. The third uke was finally called in for sword and staff take-away (standing). They then did randori starting with two uke holding his arms and the third in a light choke (collar grab really) from behind. The main comment that the teachers made was that breath is such an essential part of the martial arts that even when exhausted and blowing wind, the tester should try to hide it.

Tech Note:
This may be standard and I have just been missing it. Hanmi handachi katatetori shihonage (半身半立ち片手取り四方投げ) was performed on the knees at all times but hanmi handachi ryotetori shihonage (半身半立ち両手取り四方投げ) ended with nage in a standing position.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi, thanks for popping in at my silly post about ‘My Boyfriend’s Skirt’. I’ll have to get him to have a look at your blog – he’ll really enjoy it. He and his mentor will soon be off to southern France for a week of training, they either go there or Belgium every year.Aikido has been very good for him. A couple of weeks back we had a thorough look at the aikido vids on youtube – some amazing archives there!

Comment by hazelquinn

Hi Eric San.
Thanks for the posts, it’s interesting to hear about the gradings!

I’ve tested at Hombu twice so far (and I have my 2級 test there tomorrow), but they’ve all been done via the “aikido gakkou” (合気道学校) and I haven’t seen a regular grading.

For the beginner gakkou levels, I got the feeling that the 合気道学校 tests were more lenient than the regular tests, since they know the students (some people passed 3級 despite having to be prompted and corrected multiple times), but it sounds like this is actually reversed at the higher levels.

At intermediate level (中級学校) the grading includes progressively more zagiwaza (座技).
The 2教 test has 座技 for 1教 and 2教.
The 1級 test is 座技 for 1教ー4教.

And I recently heard that the upper level (上級学校) test for shodan is very strict through the gakkou (although still no randori I believe).

Regarding your “Tech Note” on 半身半立ち – I can confirm that’s the way it’s taught and tested at 合気道学校 (片手取り for 2級, 両手取り for 1級).

Comment by Andrew

I have not done Aikido Gakko and am intrigued by it. Would you be willing to write a guest article about the flow, content, teachers and purpose of it? It would be very cool for someone who has experienced that class series to give their views.


Comment by Eric Holcomb

Thanks for the invitation, I’d be honoured! I’ve been meaning to write more about aikido but I keep putting it off.
Feel free to drop me an email to discuss.

Comment by Andrew

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: