My 6th Kyu Aikido Exam

I did my exam for 6th kyu this morning.

[Update: Here is a page with videos of all my Aikido exams]

At our dojo, Aikido of San Diego, we start as unranked. The first test is for 6th kyu.

The exam covered:

  • Ukemi: forward & back roll
  • Katate-dori: tai no henko, shihonage (omote & ura)
  • Shomen-uchi: tenkan & irimi, ikkyo (omote & ura)
  • Jiyuwaza: grabs
  • Suwariwaza: kokyu dosa

What I’ve been telling my non-Aikidoka friends is that this test is a little like graduating from kindergarten. I had to show that I basically know my colors and can tie my own shoes. Simple stuff, but hard for a beginner to master.

Most of the feedback I got was very positive. There were a few hiccups:

  • I was mentally off-kilter from having just run back from the restroom (there had been a line). Everyone was already seated on the mat, and my exam was first. So it was run back, sit down, get up, go!
  • I was winded from rushing, and it took a few minutes to recover from that at the start.
  • I got dizzy/spaced from rolling, so blew my first hanmi (for the shomen-uchi tenkan), and then almost fell over. (D’oh!)
  • I was not expecting to have to do shikko (knee walking), so I had no idea why Sensei was asking me if my knees were injured. I think that was my only real deer-in-the-headlights, “duh” moment. I had never tried it on the mat (only once at home), but got through it OK.
  • Sensei pointed out afterward that my kokyu-dosa (suwariwaza) could be bigger, with better extension.

Overall I’m very happy. Naturally I wanted to nail every last detail, but I did OK, and didn’t embarrass my teachers. I’ll take it.

I had a great time preparing for the exam, and was lucky to work with a very capable mentor – Scott Bjerke. I have never felt so much on the receiving end of the “it takes a village” (to raise a child) concept. In addition to learning from Dave Goldberg Sensei and the other instructors, I have learned from nearly everyone in my dojo, and from others as well. Maybe I can start helping others along now and then (on simple stuff, for the moment).

Now that I have been through the testing process once, I’ll be paying attention in a slightly different way in class now (and likely taking notes after classes). And I’ll certainly be paying more attention to the names of each technique.

Having achieved this little first step, one of my next goals (in addition to working toward 5th kyu, and getting in better physical shape, of course) is to begin to explore applying what I’m learning in Aikido to my riding and other work with my horse. I’ll be posting those adventures here, too.

Many thanks for the ongoing encouragement.

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