Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pre-Dan Grade Assessment, Shiramizu

Photo was taken from the blog of Arakawa Sensei...

After the usual training on Saturday, Shiramizu had a Pre-Dan grade assessment for 11 students. 5 students were 1st kyu, and going for 1st dan, the other 6 students were going for 2nd or 3rd dan.

This was good to watch as both Amy and I have the goal of taking our next rank whilst in Japan, this would therefore give us an idea of what to expect.

The standard of each student was assessed by 4 of the Shiramizu Instructors; Arakawa Sensei, Uehara Sensei, Iwasaki Sensei and Kikuchi Sensei.

The 'grade' started with all the students and instructors bowing together. Then the students took the floor in groups of two or three and announced which Kata they would be demonstrating. They had a choice of Chinto, Seishan and Naihanchi.

Most people who stood up chose to perform Chinto. I must say, that out of the three kata, it would also be my first choice. The various dan grades in particular were very sharp in their kata, and all of their performances were excellent.

After everyone had taken their turn at kata, it was time to move onto kumite. Students were lined up opposite each other, and each pair was called up in turn to fight. In my opinion, this was typical dan grade fighting, which always has heavier contact than tournaments due to the extra nerves of taking a grading. The fighting was pretty good, with Yuki Okamura stealing the show in both of his bouts (he had to fight twice because of the odd number).

After the kumite, the students bowed out, which I was surprised at. I was expecting a demonstration of kihon kumite and basics. The instructors went into the office to discuss each student's performance and after a while, they came back out and each gave a short speech on what they thought about the everyone's performance.

All but 2 students were selected to go for their grade, with a few being given small pointers as to what they can improve on. The grade will be taking place soon in Chiba prefecture.

I spoke to Yoshihara Sensei after the grading to find out what else the actual dan grade consisted of. I was informed that students must perform basics, two kihon kumite (1 from no's 1-4 and 1 from 5-8). Students must also perform 1 mandatory kata (Chinto, Seishan or Naihanchi) and one other advanced kata, and lastly do kumite.

I would say that there is less to remember in terms of content than in the UK, for example, their is no tanto dori to demonstrate. However, the standard expected is much higher. Also, from what I've been told, the dan grade courses usually have a lot of people grading. Therefore, you have to be particularly exceptional to stand out.

I look forward to us taking our dan grade test...


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