The other night I took my third Aikido test: gokyuu. Compared to the other tests, I think I’ve had more time to practice the tested techniques and had more help with them, but I felt more nervous, and was less happy with my performance in the end. This is certainly a sign of the increasing difficulty in rising through the ranks. Regardless of minor mistakes and my own criticism, Sensei seemed happy with my progress and gave me praise. But he left me with one very interesting and important thing to think about.
In Aikido practice, we are usually cooperating each other, moving through everything very carefully, being nice, and listening to higher ranks. BUT, test time is the time when we are out there on the mat alone, and time to show our strength, confidence, and power standing alone proving we deserve the next rank. Perhaps I was a little hesitant, soft, and overly accomodating for my test partner. I think Sensei wants me to really display my strength and show off how cool the wazas (techniques) are! This is absolutley necessary icing on the cake for proficient martial artists, and the most fun to experience.
Be proud of your well-polished technique! Be willing to stand before the eyes of the world showing your true self!