Fourth Dan Grading Diary - 1

Recently Doryoku passed 60000 page views! I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported, followed, read, commented and shared this blog. Thank you for your support over the past 3 and a half years!

For those that have followed the blog since the beginning, you will know that it started out as a "diary" as I worked towards my 3rd Dan. I don't think I ever really made it into a true diary/training log and it wasn't long before I started posting on other topics, like this gem.

And how quickly time has passed??  My 4th Dan test is coming up in just about 3 months!

 I have been thinking of getting back to the basic idea and doing some training logs on shinsa keiko and kata geiko. 

To start, I will  describe some of the advice one of my Sensei gave to those going for shinsa this weekend. 

  1. Kiai
    After standing from sonkyo, both shinsa-in (person taking a grading test) will kiai. You should give your very best kiai, not from up in your throat, but from down in your belly. Your kiai should be twice as good as your opponent.

    After striking, pass through your opponent, turn and take zanshin. Your kiai should not stop until after you take zanshin.

    Your kiai should go up, not down after striking.
  2. Seme
    Your seme should be constant. Always pushing forwards. Not taking large steps, but slowly inching your way into striking distance.

     If your opponent steps forward, do not step back, instead return the pressure. For example: your opponent moves froward pressing on your shinai to take the centre, roll your kensen around to the opposite side while pushing forward from your left foot. You have taken his attack, and turned it back on him.

    If your opponent steps back in reaction to your seme, take the chance to attack. Quickly make a large step into striking distance and strike.

    If you and your opponent strike and pass by each other, turn quickly and take zanshin. Aim to be in a good position to put pressure on your opponent as they turn.
  3. Riai and creating chances
    The judges will not only be looking at the moment you strike, but every thing leading up to and after the cut, they  will be looking for the "story" of your attacks.

    They will want to see how you started from distance, checked your opponents kamae, put pressure to create a chance and then took it, following through with spirit and kiai and taking zanshin.

    Even if you don't hit your opponent, the judges will see how you tried to make a real chance. This is better than those who wait for their opponent to come and use their quick reactions to strike kaaeshi-dou or debanna-kote.
  4. Movement
    From sonkyo your movement should only be in one direction, forward. This doesn't mean that your first reaction should be to step in to cutting distance and strike. Instead you should pressure forwards, and not move to the side or back as you might do in a shiai. As Sensei put it, Kore ha nigeteiru!  (that's running away).

    After the first attack it is ok to move to the side left and right, so long as it is to take the center, or to disrupt your opponent.

    You should aim to be in the center of the shiai-jo. Make sure you are the one standing above the cross at all times. This shows a level of control over your opponent. 
As Sensei said him self, the above are not his own original ideas, only things thought to him by his teachers and their teachers before them. There is nothing special or fancy about his advice. 

Question! For those who have recently passed their fourth dan:

What was the best piece of advice you received during your preparation?