22 June 2015

Excerpts from Koudansha e no Michi (高段者への道) by Renata Liew

The following article, translated by Renata Liew and reproduced here with permission, contains some points for consideration in your upcoming grading exam.

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Excerpts from Koudansha e no Michi (高段者への道) by Kendo Nippon Editorial Board



Pg. 15-16 Points to Note in a Grading Exam
 
... So Dan Grades are an evaluation and diagnosis of the candidate's total Kendo skills, of whether or not he has mastered the appropriate level for that Dan level.This in turn is expressed in the form of "Pass" or "Fail". More than this, a "Pass" is the recognition and encouragement for continuing to train even more to keep improving oneself. On the other hand, "Fail" means that "one has still not attained the level of Kendo appropriate to that level. Even greater efforts are expected from the candidate." In addition, if a candidate is unable to pass after repeated grading exams, it may be a sign that his training direction is flawed. The Dan Grading is, in other words, a periodic 'health check' of that person's Kendo training as well as the 'entrance exam' of the next stage of training.

Because of this understanding, the candidate must first go into the grading exam with the mental preparation that he must earnestly accept the result whether it is a pass or fail.

While in the Grading exam venue, one should perform keiko in the usual manner. Do not attempt tricks just to get through the exam.  Such superficial techniques show a lack of mastery. It not only makes one's kendo awkward but also misinterprets the very meaning of undergoing the Dan grading.

There are also people who come seeking to ascertain their doubts over their failure to pass, or those who would like their points scored to be made known to them.  However even in most university entrance exams (in Japan),  or the various certification exams, it is out of the question to accuse the examiners of being unfair and request for one's test scores to be made known.

Before harbouring doubts about the result, one should first take time for self-reflection. This is, ultimately, the original purpose of the Way in our Kendo training and as teachers of it.

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