Hey hey everyone! We had our PNKF summer shinsa this past weekend, and if I had one word to describe it all it would be "prepared." Not only myself but all of our guys that went to test. We had quite a few people in tow on this trip, since the PNKF team members went for their final team training and to head out today for Atlanta and the AUSKF Championships this weekend. But only five of us were testing; three for Nidan, one for Sankyu, and myself for Ikkyu.
We left on Friday, but due to work and other things we left late in the afternoon so we didn't get into Seattle and our home for the night until late, around 10pm. Which meant no training for us on Friday night. But the good thing was that it meant we would all be fresh for the shinsa the next morning. The team guys left early for their last training, and a couple of us relaxed and prepared before going and arriving around 10:30am to get dressed and ready. We all signed in, and the Ikkyu and up candidates turned in their essay questions. From this point on I'll be writing essays for part of my testing, and I think I did a good job on the written portion (although maybe a little long-winded on some explanations. But too much info is always better than too little, right?) Dan led the whole group in warm-ups and then we broke into groups to begin everything.
Our group was up first, since we had been put onto the court where the Yudansha were testing. I was not nervous at all going into that day, but I have to admit that as I stood there in my bogu, waiting for my number to be called for my jigeiko rounds, I felt a bit nervous. Just a bit. But it was a good kind of nervous. They finally called me up and I did two rounds of jigeiko, both a little over one minute long. I went into both of my rounds with a plan, and it was a plan that came from the advice I got at the last shinsa. I wanted to show them that I could make really good strikes (I focused on Men strikes) but after I landed a few of those I mixed it up and tried some Kote, Do, and various Oji Waza. I even threw out a Kote-Men in one of my rounds. I also tried not to block without countering and tried to not stay in tsubazeriai or concentrate on Hiki Waza, and honestly after my two round I felt good. I felt like I accomplished the goal I set out for. I had a couple of wonderful partners that gave it their all, as well, and together we were able to demonstrate good Kendo for our level (in my humble opinion).
After watching the rest of the Yudansha groups go through jigeiko we jumped into the Kata portion of our testing. Since I was going for Ikkyu I had to perform Nihon Kata 1-3 with my partner. we paired up and I was given Uchidachi (teacher) side to perform,which meant that it was up to me to lead my partner accurately through each of the kata. Like a dance, where one leads and one follows, it was my task to know the proper sequence of actions and to perform them to the best of my ability, while keeping my partner and their abilities in mind. I focused on not being too fast, but be calm and precise, making sure to make each movement deliberate and making sure that my partner followed correctly. I was so so lucky to have a partner that worked well with me. She was from Idaho Kendo Club, I believe, and she definitely knew what she was doing. I don't know her name, but if she happens to run across this I just wanted to say what a pleasure it was performing Kata with her.
That was it for us. I felt that I put my best efforts forward to show that I deserved to be promoted, and the only thing left was to wait for the results. I enjoyed watching the others during this time. Our Nidan guys performed wonderfully, as did our guy testing for Sankyu. All of them demonstrated their abilities well, and all of them passed their tests with 100% in each category, so a big congratulations to them! When the time came I went to check the results, and was very pleased to see that I had also passed with 100%! So now I am a nice new shiny Ikkyu. I feel really good about it, and I'm going to do my best to step up my training from here on out. I'm shooting for Shodan in February, and it sounds like I'm on the right track. I definitely felt different at practice last night, and I heard that it showed, so that kind of encouragement is always good to hear.
So now our dojo has three awesome new Nidan, one new Ikkyu, and "the world's most dangerous Sankyu" :-). I really enjoy our Kendo family that we've formed here, and that we continue to develop, and I'm looking forward to even more hard training, sweat, and improvement as we continue on these next few months to the next shinsa.
And now, a few pictures: