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Aikido Winter Camp


I’m heading down to Florida for the United States Aikido Federation (East) Winter Camp this morning.  Our dojo is bringing down five people who are testing for advanced dan (black belts) including myself.  Four will be testing for their nidan (2nd degree) and I will be doing my sandan (3rd degree) test.  We also have about ten to fifteen other people coming from our school that will be attending the seminar taught by Yamada Sensei, the head of the USAF, Sugano Sensei and Peter Bernath Sensei who hosts the Winter Camp.

I have been training very hard for this as have my fellow students and we should have some great tests.  I know they will be fun at least.  The test in aikido is not necessarily a done deal.  That meaning, just because one is testing it does not mean that one will pass.  I have seen people fail their tests, but then those were some pretty bad performance and they deserved to go back to the dojo and raise their level of proficiency and understanding.  But for the most part, when one does a dan test it should be a celebration rather than a “test.”  It should be a display of ones proficiency but also of ones spirit.  In the first and second dan tests the focus is on technical proficiency, repertoire, power and so forth.  On the sandan test you get to let yourself come out more in your aikido.  The control aspect is much more examined, but there is an expectation that the tester will have their own style and flair.  I am really looking forward to this opportunity to highlight our dojo and my particular “flair.”   And…the party afterwards.

I have had a lot of help in preparing for this test and in turn will help those getting ready for upcoming tests.  Preparing for a test is a community effort and the more people involved in assisting the testers the better the tests will be.  Our dojo took on a committed effort over the past several months to cater to the yudansha that are going to be testing tomorrow and I believe that effort will pay off huge dividends in giving the hundreds of people attending a look at some very dynamic and well performed aikido.  I am going to do my part to make that true.

Thanks to all that helped me and the rest of us testers.  It won’t be forgotten.  I will leave it with this clip of Kanai Sensei who helped our dojo so much and who passed away too early.

See you on the mat.


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