Well, the kenshusei first exam is done. Possible results were 6th-kyu, 5th-kyu, 4th-kyu, or epic FAIL.
I had to spend the weekend at work, which meant long hours sitting in a desk chair. I haven’t had to do that for at least 3 years. So by Sunday night, my ankles and lower legs were swollen, and I was “knackered” as roommate Nick would say (“tired”, or “ready for the knacker’s yard“… he’s English).
We had a reprieve this morning and didn’t have to be at the dojo until 9:00AM. I was still feeling quite worn down from the long weekend, and the first class saw us going through the 21 techniques of the Dai Ichi set for the last time, concentrating on mental toughness and focus. Very difficult. Sometimes when you train hard, you can feel yourself getting more and more jazzed up, but sometimes it just reveals to you that you’re dead tired and… old. Not an auspicious start to the day.
After a light lunch, Payet-sensei showed up and the instructors started putting on the hakama.
I know in some other styles of aikido, every blackbelt wears a hakama at every class, but in Mugenjuku, I only see them worn by instructors, and usually only on special occasions. So the hakama is a little intimidating.
The day’s second class started normally, but after a short warm-up (taiso) we started the test right away. And then it was over.
Yes, there was a bunch of stuff in between the beginning and the end, but it was sort of a blur. Seiza ho, shikko ho, kihon dosa, 5 waza.
My memory of the test is mostly of sloppiness. A lot of unfocused, unsure, and unsmooth movements. No major mistakes, but not the best I could give either. Just the best that came out today.
At the end of the test, we huddled in the kitchen while Payet-sensei, Crampton-sensei, and Carter-sensei conferred. Nick tried to console us. Then we were called out to sit in seiza and asked what we thought of the test. Here’s what I remember:
Takenaga-san: [nihongo, nihongo, nihongo, nihongo]
Oldmanchris: I thought we did better on Friday. After the weekend, my body was stiff and didn’t move well, and it was very hard to overcome this mentally.
Izzy-san: something about having a good connection today
I thought all the comments were appropos. Izzy is usually positive, I am usually a downer, and Takenaga is a mystery.
After the exam, we filled out some forms, paid some fees, and made our way off to work or home.
So, what were the results?
However, Crampton-sensei missed his cue and never said, “I love it when a test comes together…”