Are the nerves getting to you as you inch closer to your Aikido grading?
Or are you frustrated that you have not grading sooner?
Just remember that to be asked to grade by your Sensei means you have already passed. At Fortitude Valley Aikido it’s just a demonstration of your progression to your classmates and not a test.
When getting ready for an Aikido grading, it is essential to prepare your mind, body, and circumstances as you polish your techniques. Here are some suggestions that may help.
Try to Get in a Good Mental Space
During your preparation period, you should focus on building your confidence and avoid exploring new variants of cool techniques on YouTube and the internet. Instead, focus on becoming more fluid and comfortable with what you have been shown. In class, you should practice in the same flowing, expansive, and connected spirit that you want to have during the test. Avoid fiddling with things. Let it happen. The variants will come with practice and time.
Know how the grading will be conducted so that you know what to expect. The guide book is on our resources page on the website. Surprises can really throw you off. You have trained for this, it’s just a demonstration, have fun. Also, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask your Sensei, Senpai, or Ukes. It is also polite to ask your Ukes if they would like to participate in your grading.
Visualize every day on doing the start of your grading brilliantly. You have already passed, and it is something really special. You could begin with knee walking to the center of the mat in a calm manner, head up, shoulders back, and breathing freely. Avoid entertaining the habitual pattern of imagining all the ways that you could mess up. Just visualize yourself doing your best. Be in the moment.
Visualisation can be strengthened by attaching emotional triggers, explains NLP experts. They note “with your Aikido exam on the horizon, don’t just visualise passing. Visualise how it will feel. What positive emotions you’ll experience when your Sensei passes you. These will help strengthen your visualisations and equip you for success on your exam day.”
Mistakes are a gift and if you make any it’s alright. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Whatever will happen in the grading, ensure you have it pictured in your mind. You’ll be nervous and fired up, bowing gives you a moment to focus. The little moments can work wonders in terms of a sense of ease throughout the whole thing. Focus on a positive and strong note and allow the rest to come naturally. Just remember your breath.
Handle Your Circumstances
Only the black belt gradings have a written component like an essay, ensure you have it completed days before the big day. Don’t make your Sensei ask you for it months later. The same applies to gifts and thank you notes. Set yourself up to have a calm, early evening the night before your grading. Trim your nails, set your clothes/ clean uniform the night before, and fuel up your car to avoid rushing things during the day of the exam.
Also, ensure you pay the grading fees early enough. The dojo is a not for profit organisation and the fees go directly to Japan to help the Hombiu Dojo. The blackbelt gradings get a personalised Japanese Calligraphy scroll hand written by one of the Master Calligraphers.
During the Morning of Your Grading
On the exam day, wake up. Enjoy the moment. Your Sensei had at some point maybe a long time ago done this and felt the same as you. A little nervous, a little excited. Think of what he or she might of looked like 30-40 yrs ago.
Take breakfast right away so that you will have time for the food to settle. Get to the dojo early enough and warm up gradually, particularly if you are nervous. Visualizing on performing well. If there are techniques that you are still worried about, practice them with a classmate. If you’re expected to demonstrate weapons, ensure you keep them in a place where you can easily get to them during the grading.
Chiropractor Keith Maitland notes that you can incorporate good posture in your daily life to help with your posture during your Aikido exam. He explains “when you maintain proper posture you increase your chances of unbalancing your opponent and using chi rather than force. While many of us think we have good posture, we are actually leaning too far forward or back. By practising your Aikido posture at home you can prepare for your exam and increase your overall strength too.”
Ask one of your ukes to be the weapon master during the grading. Keep in mind that you’re well prepared to help with relaxation.
Some Final Words to Conclude
Know that you’re ready, or otherwise, your Sensei would not have asked you to take the Grading. You are ready as you can be.
You’ve done everything to support yourself in getting ready for your Aikido journey, so, now relax. Enjoy the moment.
If you’re looking to further your training or get more advice, feel free to
Witten by: Bob George