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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1710

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:16 am    Post subject: Why are dan gradings/tests so long? Reply with quote

Has anyone ever questioned why dan gradings/tests are so long and whether it is really necessary to take that much time? 2, 3 or 4hours for a dan grading or test seems to be common, but it is not unheard of for some to take even longer and go on over two or three days!

Is that much time really required for an instructor to see and evaluate progress in skills? What do the instructors here think of this practice? How about your school or associationís tests?

It may or may not be relevant, but the longest ones experienced and heard of were overwhelmingly in martial arts schools outside of the place of origin of the style.

The ones in Okinawan/Japanese dojos rarely took more than an hour on average. The most recent one was over in under 45 minutes from the first step onto the floor to the bow after receiving the certification.
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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2350
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMO it really all depends on who's testing you. One could make the valid argument that if it's your day in and day out teacher, a test shouldn't even be necessary as they know what you are and aren't capable of. While my teacher is allowed to test and promote students to dan ranks, he chooses to have his teacher (our kaicho) test his students instead. We're less than 3 hours away, so why not? Add to that that me testing under my teacher's teacher is also a test for my teacher.

Testing under someone who's never seen me before should and will take a while. Dan testing (actually, all of our ranks) is cumulative. When I test for shodan under Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura, I'll have to demonstrate the entire syllabus. Same for every other dan rank. Having 6 decades or so of experience, I'm quite sure Nakamura can quickly tell if a person should be testing or not. But promotion isn't solely based on if the student can throw a few punches and kicks correctly. If that were the case, anyone with any MA experience could walk in and walk out with a black belt. Demonstrating everything you've been taught takes time.

My 1st kyu test was the most straight forward MA test I've taken. It was simply doing kihon as a warm-up, demonstrating every kata I've been taught one after another, and demonstrating every standardised drill we do with and without partners. Then we sparred the black belts who were in attendance. There were 6-8 of them, and we sparred each one of them twice. There was no filler, no repetition, very little waiting around for everyone else to finish things, etc. And it took approximately 90 minutes, including bowing in and out.

That 90 minutes was straight forward, no deviation from the syllabus. Meaning there were no surprises such as doing things out of order, changing things deliberately to gauge the students' reaction and ability to adjust, taking the students out of their comfort zones, etc.

Someone who hasn't seen me train before will take a lot longer to make sure I know everything. They'll put me in situations to see if I truly know what I'm doing or simply have it memorized and am just regurgitating it.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14301
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great topic...one I love because I get this question all of the time!! The short answer is...

There are a lot of material to cover, depending on what Rank is being tested, and the integrity of the Testing Cycle is too far important then to just wax over it in a short cut manner.

The Testing Cycle will take care of itself; it always has, and it always will. Whether the Testing Cycle takes an unruly amount of hours or days, be in the moment of the Testing Cycle by doing one's very best...whatever happens, happens....let the Testing Cycle take care of itself.



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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2350
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
Great topic...one I love because I get this question all of the time!! The short answer is...

There are a lot of material to cover, depending on what Rank is being tested, and the integrity of the Testing Cycle is too far important then to just wax over it in a short cut manner.

The Testing Cycle will take care of itself; it always has, and it always will. Whether the Testing Cycle takes an unruly amount of hours or days, be in the moment of the Testing Cycle by doing one's very best...whatever happens, happens....let the Testing Cycle take care of itself.



Spartacus Maximus makes an interesting point though, Bob.

Letís say Iím your student for 5 years. The dojo is small and I attend your classes almost exclusively. Other than rite of passage, tradition, etc., why would you need to test me for shodan? Down the road when Iíve met the requirements and you feel Iím ready for subsequent ranks, why the need to test me? What are you going to see in a test that you havenít seen me do in class consistently?

Iím just trying to learn here, not question. Iíd rather be put through a test. I like tests. But thatís a different thread.
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Wastelander
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2407
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our intermediate to advanced kyu rank tests take that long, too. As JR mentions, the tests are cumulative, so you don't just demonstrate the requirements for the rank you are testing for--you have to demonstrate everything from white belt up. Of course, we could tell whether someone should be promoted without that process, but it is a rite of passage, and forces students to overcome nerves and physical/mental stress.

On the other hand, dan rank tests on Okinawa in our organization are generally handled by having you perform 2-5 kata in front of a panel of 8th, 9th, and 10th dans, and that's it.
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Shorin-Ryu | 2010-Present: Nidan | Sensei: Richard Poage, Jeff Allred
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My Blog: www.karateobsession.com
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27678
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our testings are not the long, marathon tests. The time it takes has more to do with how many students are testing than anything else.

Colored belts do their rank forms, one-steps, sparring, and board breaking if applicable.

Our students testing for 1st Dan are required to write a one-page paper, the topic of which is what attaining their black belt means to them (and reads it aloud to the audience), and then perform all colored belt material, forms and one-steps, plus their own, along with sparring and board breaking during their testing. So it takes longer, but isn't drawn out terribly.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14301
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JR 137 wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
Great topic...one I love because I get this question all of the time!! The short answer is...

There are a lot of material to cover, depending on what Rank is being tested, and the integrity of the Testing Cycle is too far important then to just wax over it in a short cut manner.

The Testing Cycle will take care of itself; it always has, and it always will. Whether the Testing Cycle takes an unruly amount of hours or days, be in the moment of the Testing Cycle by doing one's very best...whatever happens, happens....let the Testing Cycle take care of itself.



Spartacus Maximus makes an interesting point though, Bob.

Letís say Iím your student for 5 years. The dojo is small and I attend your classes almost exclusively. Other than rite of passage, tradition, etc., why would you need to test me for shodan? Down the road when Iíve met the requirements and you feel Iím ready for subsequent ranks, why the need to test me? What are you going to see in a test that you havenít seen me do in class consistently?

Iím just trying to learn here, not question. Iíd rather be put through a test. I like tests. But thatís a different thread.

The Testing Cycle is the formality of affirmation!!

We test everything, no matter what, without any exceptions; white belt to 8th Dan. Small dojo or large dojo, and while I see the students day after day, and their abilities, good and/or bad, that formality must be adhered to for its integrity sake. That's why there's a panel at the Testing Cycle; integrity.

So, if I only had one student, I'd still run that student through every single thing white belt and up, and however long it takes, is how long it takes. I look for the maturity in said technique, first and foremost. Many fail with me because their maturity in said technique isn't there...not yet!!

I've ended Testing Cycles whenever a student(s) complain about whatever floats their boat; proof is on the floor..so get out on the floor!! The Testing Cycle will end when it ends!!





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