Andrew V Parker's life one post at a time

Aikido training summary - first half 2011

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2011 has been an interesting year so far, especially in my aikido. I thought it would be good to post a summary of the year so far, and compare it to last year.

Training Summary

I trained a total of 136.5 hours in the first 6 months of 2011, a nice improvement over the 102 hours in same period in 2010. I would have liked to train more, but I did manage to train regularly, making it to the dojo 3 or 4 days every week, except for the 3 weeks I was away.

‘Training hours by month.’

My aikido shodan test at Aikikai Hombu Dojo

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On 18th February 2011 I took my test for shodan (初段 – black belt) at Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. I took the test along with 8 other people at the end of the winter semester of the ‘Aikido Advanced Gakko’ (合気道学校上級課程). The test was overseen by Katsurada Eiji Shihan (桂田英路師範 6th Dan), and Kobayashi Yukimistu Shihan (小林幸光師範 7th Dan). On 25th February 2011 I received my shodan certificate from the Doshu Ueshiba Moriteru.

‘Wearing my black belt and hakama to training for the first time’

What does Shodan mean?

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The literal translation of the Japanese word “Shodan” (初段) is “first level”. In Aikido this corresponds with the point when you receive your black belt (and hakama for men in Aikikai). The real question is “what level of ability does Shodan represent”, which is a much harder question that I certainly do not profess to have the answer. However I find myself contemplating this subject as I am faced with the possibility that I may be allowed to take a grading test for Shodan at Aikikai Hombu Dojo in just under 5 weeks (see Update below). Here are some of my thoughts about what Shodan means to me, and whether I should take the Shodan test, which is a much harder decision than I would have expected.