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PNKF Winter Shinsa 2013 - Nidan

Photo courtesy of D. Pan
This weekend I headed to Seattle with four of my dojo mates and our sensei to participate in the PNKF Winter shinsa.  I was testing for the highest this rank this time around, shooting for nidan.  What happened over the weekend amounted to a lot of good fellowship with my friends, laughing and joking with my Seattle friends that I don't see too often, and a lot of good kendo.

Since I was the highest ranked person on the trip, I felt a little sense of responsibility for our group so I did my best to make sure that everyone had their stuff in order (bogu, uniforms, etc) and that everyone was ready to go when we needed to, and to offer encouragement and advice when needed.  I jokingly wrote to someone that I was handing out pep talks like they were candy over the weekend :).  We all arrived on Saturday morning with plenty of time to get ready and get situated before the test started.  My group wasn't going to be up for a couple of hours so I enjoyed watching my dojo mates during their tests, as well as watching some of my other friends from around the region.  I wasn't feeling nervous at all, but calm and collected.  I was definitely ready to face the judging panel and show them that I was ready for a new rank.

My turn was finally up.  For nidan I had to go through two sparring matches and then kata (nihon kata 1-7).  I stepped in for my first match, bowed in, and once things started I focused solely on my partner.  I wanted to not only get good strikes in, but do so with beautiful technique and work on not only responding to openings but creating my own.  I think I did a great job in the first match, and an even better job in the second.  I have seen many things I still need to work on, but for the most part I think I accomplished what I set out to do during the jigeiko portion of my test.

After all of the ranks (1 dan through 4 dan) finished their jigeiko we moved on to kata.  My partner for kata was a guy that I had tested with last year for shodan, and whom I had fought many times at tournaments.  I was shidachi (student side) for kata, as I have always been, and we ran through each one in succession.  I did my best to keep a connection with my partner, and focus not just on the steps themselves but on the overall feel, keeping in mind distancing and timing and being a shadow to my partner, who was leading the kata.  Again I was calm and collected throughout, which showed.  We bowed out and I was finally able to relax a bit, as my test was officially over.

After all of the various ranks had finished, we waited for the results.  I went to look up my number, 63, and was very pleased to see that I had a perfect score of five out of five on both keiko and kata.  Each judge at the panel believed I was ready for nidan.  I had done it!  I was also pleased to see and hear that my dojo mates had all passed their tests with flying colors, as well, although I was not surprised to see that they had done so well.  They were all ready, that's for sure.

For me, this marks the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one.  As the sun sets, so too does it rise, and the future looks bright indeed! 

Photo courtesy of W. Sinclair

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