Because of last sunday’s exam, virtually all the classes right after the national championships up until the central training consisted of a lot of specific exam training. Some classes were entirely devoted to kata while others also had light kihon and jigeiko.
The general set up of a class was half an hour kata, followed by half an hour of very basic kihon (men, kote – men, dou, debana kote or men. Both quick and large) with finally half an hour of jigeiko. And as most kendoka were preparing for their first exam the kata mostly focused on were the first three.
As the time between the national championships and the central training was relatively short, Bert Heeren-sensei told us to focus on a single kata each week. Continuing onto the next every subsequent week. At the end of the 3 weeks a beginner of kata would then have sufficiently mastered the required first couple of kata for the exam.
However, even though everybody participated in kata training for the exam, not many of our dojo could participate in the exam because of the exam requirement that a candidate should have attended at least 3 central trainings including the training with the exam itself. But even so, 3 renshinjuka were able to participate in the exam itself, with others attending the non-exam part of the central training.
The central training itself was quite interesting for me, as I had never done an exam before. The setup was as follows:
- Warming-up, in which all attendants of the central training participated.
- Then the training was split up into 3 groups, beginners, regular attendants and exam candidates.
- The exam candidates were also split up into 3 groups (ikkyuu candidates, 1st dan candidates and 2nd and 3rd dan candidates. We all began with light kihon, kirikaeshi, large men and kote, small men and kote, and small kote – men etc. But also some debana waza, and a suriage technique was also practiced.
Our teacher for the day, Koos van Hattum-sensei, told us that during the exam itself, we should just do what we already know. And that this practice was merely to give us some pointers on what to pay attention to, not so much to learn new things. So the suriage technique for example wasn’t something the ikkyuu candidates (or anyone who doesn’t regularly do this technique) should focus on.
- Then we went on to kata practice. This was our chance to ask for some last pointers to improve our kata.
- Then after a break the exams themselves started.
Please refer to this post for the following:
The exam itself consists of 3 official parts and a written examination. First a candidate had to show kirikaeshi and do jitsugi (basically a jigeiko specially for exams) twice. Then while waiting for the other candidates to finish their kirikaeshi and jitsugi a candidate would have to do the written part of the exam (called gakka). During this time those who could proceed to the kata part of the exam were announced on papers. So then exam was completed with the final kata part. All in all the entire exam with all the candidates took roughly 2 hours to complete.
In the end Nick Kistemaker from RSJ Almere and myself were able to attain our targeted ranks of shodan and ikkyuu respectively.