For better or worse, rank is awarded after testing. They are milestones in your Aikido journey. You will remember your uke, what the test was like, who was on your testing board, even the weather that day. I can't tell you what I had for supper last month, but if I could get you to sit still, I could tell you a great deal about the day I took the shodan test.

Last night we had a small group and I was teaching. One student is preparing for his ikkyu test. We used the class as an opportunity for preparation.

First, the katas. All of them, jo and bokken.

Then 25 out of the basic 50. Run through them like it's the test. Then stop, go back, look at atemis, blending, pins. Trying to polish the techniques.

And at the end, we sat in a circle on the mat, peppering the testing hopeful with questions.

Tell us about Suenaka Sensei's instructors. Name them, the arts they taught, and the ranks Sensei attained.

Name the Six Pillars of Aikido.

Where and when was O'Sensei born? His early life? Important influences?

Tell us what you know about O'Sensei's enlightenment.

Talk about Suenaka Sensei's Aikido journey. Dates, places, and people.

Vocabulary from the handbook

Tells us the Wadoki motto and Proverb
 And so on.

He's doesn't think he's ready. No one does. But he's more ready than yesterday.


Aikido has changed the way I walk, open doors, even how I sit when I drive. It has to do, I think, with finding out what it is to move with balance and how we respond when taking ukemi.


Aikido Is A Path, Life Is A Gift

"Aikido is a path, both extremely old and extremely new, which shows us how to live as human beings."
-- Motomichi Anno Sensei,
    8th dan, Kumano, Japan.

"Now more than ever, it is important that human society recognize where it is that we came from, that we wake up to our purpose and mission on earth, and that we live our lives as an expression of appreciation and gratitude for the gift of life."
--Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido
From "A Light on Transmission" by Mitsugi Saotome Shihan


Japan VS. Hong Kong.

Perhaps every sport is amazing when it is played with this much intensity. This is dodgeball with ki.