Should nidan grading feel less stressful than shodan grading?
Posted Apr 21 2013 8:00am
Why does training for nidan feel so different to
training for shodan? I am currently training in preparation for taking my nidan
grading in June. Strangely it feels a much more low-key event than my shodan
grading nearly two years ago…yes, it
really was nearly two years ago, how time flies!
I keep trying to put my finger on why it feels so
different. By different I mean that I don’t feel the need to put together a
week by week training programme for 6 months like I did for my shodan grading
(remember my Countdown to Shodan blog ?); neither do I feel so stressed or
compelled to train every spare minute.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m training hard and taking it
very seriously – I want to pass after all, but it doesn’t seem like quite the
big deal that shodan grading did. In fact, I think I made some mistakes with my
shodan preparations that I don’t want to repeat this time around.
I think I had placed shodan on a very high pedestal and
made it into a much bigger deal than it really was, this is what made it such a
stressful time in the months leading up to the grading. I also think that I
over-trained a little resulting in a thigh injury and a bit of mental
So, for nidan preparations I have a different approach,
different because I am different
compared to two years ago…
I am more relaxed than for shodan grading – nidan is
not on some high pedestal, it will not be earth shatteringly terrible to fail,
I’ll just try again. In fact, if I don’t feel ready to take it in June I will
postpone until the next round in December. Please note that relaxed doesn’t
mean laid-back it just means that I’m not so frazzled by the task!
I understand my abilities/weaknesses better and have a
clearer understanding of what the grading panel will expect of me. This means
that I can target my training better to improve my weaknesses.
I understand a lot more than two years ago and seem to
learn new things a bit more quickly – I
have a greater understanding of the underlying principles that govern all
techniques and so I’m more able to apply them to new situations. I think
this is the result of all the teaching practice I’ve had since my shodan
grading, teaching really tightens up your own understanding of what you are
I trust in my regular training more to get me through.
Obviously I’m doing some training at home as well as in class since we are
expected at this level to work out our own ippon kumite, goshin waza and bunkai
applications – sensei will help and guide as necessary but he won’t spoon feed
us at this level.
For shodan grading I worked on a general fitness
programme as well as practicing the karate itself. This time I am only training
in karate. Why? Because I have come to believe that extreme fitness is not
required for the grading. The level of fitness that I already possess gets me
through some pretty demanding karate sessions without too much trouble. I think
that maintaining the fitness I already have is important but trying to up it
for the grading may be counter-productive and risk injury.
Nidan grading is not an extreme sport; it is merely a
demanding demonstration of martial arts skills – the stuff I do week in, week
out. If my current fitness level sustains me through these lessons then it
should sustain me through the grading. Extreme fitness is not sustainable in
the long term so it seems slightly ridiculous to need extreme fitness to pass a
grading when you don’t need it for regular classes. I don’t see why a grading
should require something that normal classes don’t. This is the way I’m thinking at the moment…
So far preparations are going okay, I’m not there yet
but I’m feeling fairly confident that I will be by June. I attended a black
belt course this weekend and have the pre-dan course in May, then it will be
decided whether I am ready for this grading or not. If I get the green light to
go for it then sensei will be turning up the pressure in class to get me
mentally and physically ready.
If you are a nidan did you find the thought of nidan
grading less stressful than shodan grading? Do you think I’m in for a shock in