Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Shodan Shinsa in Tokyo.

From L - R: Lawrence, Arakawa Sensei, Shunsuke Yanagida Sensei, 2 peoples names I don't know & Mike

Yes indeed, this past March 2nd was yet another shodan shinsa dan rank test, this one being for Tokyo. It was held at the Ikebukuro Sports Centre which has a beautifully finished dojo on the 8th floor of a business-like looking building. With registration at 12pm and the examination starting at 1pm, it was rather different from the one I went to in Chiba. For starters, there were far fewer people, only 38 people being tested. It also had a larger judge panel with 12 judges and people challenged higher dan levels, the highest being godan.

The test format was also slightly different. Examinees started right into ido kihon and everyone had to do all of them. After everyone did ido kihon, it was time for kata (whereas Chiba had examinees do both ido kihon and kata in one go). In Tokyo, many kata are examinable with the judges selecting one on the day of the exam. For adult shodan, as an example, all five pinan kata as well as naihanchi and kushanku were "possible" and hence one needed to be prepared. On the day of the exam, adult shodan examinees were told that they needed to do naihanchi.

Kihon kumite was the same, with all the sets between ippon mei and gohon mei examinable and adult shodan examinees were told, when they registered, that the day's kihon kumite was yohon mei.

The test finished with jiyu kumite and after the results, the judges gave a one-point lesson which lasted for an hour (and, as is the nature of lessons, contained far more than just one point).

It wasn't I, however, who took part in the test. Rather, Mr. Mike Spain visited from Feb 26 til Mar 4 with the sole intention of challenging the Wadokai shodan. And so, he spent pretty much his entire week at Shiramizu practices daily preparing. Many people offered words of advice and encouragement and Mike really got his head down and trained hard. In the end, the effort paid off and the panel at Tokyo awarded Mike his shodan. So big congratulations!

Of course, that wasn't all. After the shodan shinsa and the one point lessons, we went to Guseikai to practice with Takagi Sensei's class. To say the day was packed with karate is a bit of an understatement.

For me, the week I spent helping Mike prepare was a great experience in itself. Ever since I came to Japan, I've learned and discovered a lot of elements about karate, both tangible and intangible. And to be able to properly convey these feelings and concepts to students is something that isn't easy to do. I spend all my time here learning so to have an opportunity to switch my thinking and pass on the things I've learned was a great way to practice both modelling and explaining different aspects of karate.

So big congratulations and thanks to Mike!


No comments: