Friday, December 01, 2006


Well, I passed my Jodo grading. It was a little iffy there for a while, but only (I think) because Abe Sensei wanted me to practice hard and put my all into it. He kept saying things like, "Okay, that one was good. If you do it like that, you might pass." It's terrible to go into a grading thinking, "As long as I don't make any major screw-ups, I'll probably pass because they basically pass everybody" even though that is, essentially, the reality.

So anyway, I practiced quite hard leading up to the exam, and worked on fixing a lot of little bit habits. And it didn't hurt that my partner, Oba-san, is really remarkably good. In fact, he might be a little bit too good ... you don't want to do the jo side, and then do shi-uchi kotai, and he turns around and completely shows you up!

After the kata examination, we had to do the paper test, which is also basicaly a formality -- or so I thought! I was told that it was acceptable for me to write my answers in English, so I did so thinking, "Hah! No one here even speaks English! It's all just for show! I'm in the clear!" But then they called me up and make me explain everything I had written, in Japanese!! It was kind of touch-and-go as they scratched their heads and tried to decipher what I was saying, but I was finally given the green light. I passed!

As an addendum, I *did* learn something very valuable. Remember how I said that Oba-san was really good? Well, just for future reference: if you're doing a grading (or a demonstration) and your partner knocks your sword right out of your hands, and it goes clattering across the floor ... *DON'T* panic and go running after it. Maintain zanshin, look your partner in the eye, wait for him to stop moving, give a small bow, turn, retrieve your sword, and then continue where you left off. Don't restart the technique. (Of course, this is all just FYI. You know. Theoretical. IF it should ever happen to you. (^_^)

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