How much are you required to know to challenge the shodan test in Jissenkan Dojo? A lot, but not as much as you may think. Yes, you have to be able to switch modes and demonstrate distinct differences between karate, jujutsu and aikido. You may believe this is a bit unrealistic considering some of the "newer" training methods we've added in the past two years.
Fact is, aside from kata, we aren't doing things a whole lot different than we were before. We have always used karate techniques and conditioning as a part of our training; we've always used (non-aikido) joint locks, chokes, throws and take-downs. And the standard for shodan has always been the same; you need to know 4-5 variations for aikido techniques, you need to be able to participate in Kumite, negotiate various weapon attacks, get through the shugyo part of the examination and demonstrate grit and determination during Randori. And, you have to do all this while maintaining a collected mindset.
You may be surprised to learn that we have omitted many complicated, ritualistic techniques that were not applicable to a hand-hand combat situation. Furthermore, while we expect you to demonstrate proficiency with a wide variety of techniques, our curriculum has far fewer demands than other systems. For example:
In short, we want you to have a very thorough knowledge of basic techniques from the arts that comprise our karate system. Once mastered, these simplistic forms can be used in practically any combination or separately as needed.
As always, testing is for the individual, not for the teacher. It is a measure of your progress as well as a chance to inspire others.
Finally, the Shodan test should be rigorous, demanding, painful, exhausting, difficult and above all, exclusive. You have to earn an opportunity to challenge the test. This includes demonstrating commitment, self-training, self-discipline and a thorough knowledge of the basics. If you cannot adequately convey basic concepts when called upon to teach a given technique, you have not trained enough to have it become a part of you...and you will not test. If you have not taken your fitness and/or training seriously, if you are unable to challenge the test due to physical deficits within your control, you do not understand Budo discipline...and you will not test. If you whine, complain or question the wisdom behind the manner in which you are taught in a dojo that is completely free, you most likely don't realize what you have here...and you will not test.
There is absolutely no reason why any student who trains here cannot obtain shodan and beyond. I leave you with this question: There are 24 hours in a day, 10-12 of which we must dedicate to work/school, around seven hours for sleep. That leaves approximately five hours for other stuff. How are you filling those hours?
Dojo Cho, Jissenkan