Winter Grading 2018

Our semi-annual gradings were held over the weekend. A small group of mudansha. Something that had to be continually kept in mind. Our last few gradings have involved yudansha, and one must reset one’s expectations accordingly.

For some, this was their first ever grading with Ten Shin Sho Kai; always an added pressure.

For those watching and those participating, it is very easy to focus on all the negatives, all the errors that are made during a grading and lose sight of the bigger picture. This art is not finite and neither is the learning of it. Put into that context, one forgotten form of one particular technique is a minor event.

This was also the first time one of our relatively new instructors was asked to formally judge the students and present a report on their performance. (It is possible this instructor, should they happen to read this, and I think I am safe here, may take minor offense at being described as new. Which is why I prefixed that with, ‘relatively’, a word that allows one to describe anything in any way they wish and still be able to find a valid argument to justify it. Relatively speaking). It is a very different experience watching and trying to take pertinent, critical notes, than it is to be on the mat enjoying oneself.

The note taking occasionally makes students nervous, but the notes are not really about them, they are rather pointing out common flaws that indicate gaps in, or problems with, the teaching that has led to this point.

All who graded did exceptionally well and will be awarded their certificate/s of rank in due course. The other students who assisted throughout, especially the two yudansha for open hand, also did extremely well, putting the grading students under just the right amount of pressure throughout. No certificates for you though.


Ever a mix of emotions, a grading.

Expectations being disappointed and exceeded in a continuous flux of surprises.

The beer at the end always tastes good.


Kai Cho


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