On Saturday I had my pre-dan course. This is an assessment of your ability to meet the standard for the dan grading a few weeks later. Like I mentioned in a previous blog, I was expecting to grade for nidan at the end of June.
However, the verdict of the grading panel at the end of the course was that I was ‘borderline’ and they have left it up to me to decide whether I want to give it a try or postpone until the next dan grading session in November. My husband (and martial arts partner) has been given the all clear to grade for nidan in June.
Prior to the pre-dan course I would have imagined this scenario of whether to press on regardless so that we can grade together or grade on separate occasions would have been quite a dilemma for me. As it happened the decision seemed very clear cut. Before I had even left the changing rooms I had decided that I would postpone my grading until November and concentrate on helping my husband to pass his in June.
We have graded together on every occasion since white belt, which, if you include our kobudo gradings amounts to 17 gradings; but it was inevitable that at some point our grading schedules would part company. I have done well to keep up with him this long but this time I just can’t keep up, I’m not ready for nidan grading yet and he is. My husband has four years more experience in martial arts than me, he did jujitsu before karate and holds a black belt in that art as well, and this experience massively influences his ability to do karate.
I don’t want to hold him back and I don’t want to risk failure for myself so it makes sense for us to grade separately this time. I would hate to be one of those passed it by the skin of her teeth or pulled it off on the day people. It’s just not budo. I want to feel comfortable in my skin with nidan so I need to be patient and wait.
There are advantages for both of us in grading separately. It is doubly exhausting to both grade yourself and be a grading partner for someone else at the same time. You have to remember their techniques (which may be different to your own) so that you can remember what kind of attacks they want from you at different times during the grading. It will be easier on both of us if we only have to concentrate on one role at a time!
I can now focus on helping my husband to finish his preparations for his grading and make sure I am fully familiar with his techniques so that I can be a good partner for him. I know he will return the favour for me in my preparations for November.
So I soldier on! I will have to do another pre-dan assessment in October which I won’t particularly look forward to (they don’t tend to be very positive experiences for me) but hopefully I will get the all clear next time!
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