What ever your views on the kyu grading system in martial arts (my views on this will be the subject of my next post), I am pleased to announce that my husband and I both passed our iai-jutsu grading on Sunday!
I was a little more nervous than usual about this grading. The requirements were much more exacting than for our other level one weapons and a higher standard of precision and etiquette were required. It took me a long time to master even the most basic elements of using a sword such as just smoothly pulling it out of the saya (scabbard) and returning it again (without looking). I nearly always had the saya upside down so that the sword wouldn't fit in! Eventually I got the hang of it and now it's hard to understand why I couldn't do it in the first place - but that's the nature of learning.
There were a lot of 'differents' associated with this grading compared to previous kobudo gradings: different venue, different grading officer, even different uniform (we had to wear our hakamas). There was also a lot of waiting about before the grading, about 2 hours, so it was hard to stay warm and it was too cramped to practice properly as you need a lot of space when you are wielding a sword and we had to wait in the hallway of a small infant school.
Finally it was our turn to grade. We started with the reishiki ceremony which we did simultaneously. I'd been fretting about some of the details of this rather elaborate show of etiquette - do we bow before we swap the sword to the right hand or after? Is it left hand or right hand down first when doing the full seiza bow? Do we start walking with the right foot first or the left foot? All these details matter. However, on the day we both managed to perform it flawlessly so the grading got off to a good start.
After that we were graded separately (apart from partnering each other when required). The grading officer looked at us and said, 'How about ladies first?' Mmmmmmmm.....no chance for some sneaky revision whilst watching my husband grade first then. Amazingly I remembered everything, didn't make any mistakes and didn't stand on or trip over my hakama!
Then I knelt on the edge of the mat whilst my husband was graded, just getting up to partner him for his disarming techniques and wrist throws. His performance too was error free and looked really neat and precise. I felt very proud of him.
Then it was time to line up and get the results. "Pass with honours". Both of us. Wow!
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