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Gradings at out Aikido club get longer and more varied as one progresses through the ranks. Two of our exceptionally skilled Dan grades were wearing the blue belt (or 2nd Kyu) when I first started out, so gaining that rank last night, after a very difficult and messy grading, was a personal milestone. Now I’m just one rank away from officially being a coach/instructor.

I’m especiallly proud of Daniel, who also passed – it takes a lot of courage to go up there for the first time, when candidates pass and fail in front of a large audience (and usually the critical eye of Mal Saunders). Even the lowest ranks get a huge amount of respect here, because they’re damn hard to earn. Also, I’m very happy Ryan passed his – as an MMA fighter, he’s really helped sharpen my techniques. Also, Mark, an excellent teacher, who got his 3rd Dan grade last week.

Here’s a rundown of what the 2nd kyu grading involved:

  • Ki Tests: Testing co-ordination with movement, with the bokken and with the jo.
  • 5th Form Techniques: All techniques are performed with movement.
  • Other Techniques: A random selection of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th form techniques. These are all just variations on the initial nine techniques learned, but practiced with more speed and aggression.
  • Knife Defences: Demonstrating three defences against knife attacks.
  • Two-Man Attack: Dealing with a couple of attackers for a minute.
  • Bokken Kata: Probably the easiest part of the grading, almost impossible to fail this if the movement is right.

As always, we’ll be moving onto new things in our next session.