When I was coming up through the ranks - particularly when I got to about the shodan-nidan range, our instructors liked to make their rank candidates go test in front of a pile of highly-ranked examiners. The rank demos would be at the end of a week-long grueling seminar, and often as not, by the middle of the rank demos there would be 2-3 of the 10-15 examiners either barely awake or just flat-out snoring!
I remember a couple of candy-striped belts joking one time that they's seen so many new shodans screw up Owaza Jupon (a kata called "The Big Ten") in so many creative ways that they'd started calling it "The bigger 11" or "the lesser 9."
I used to think those guys were real jerks for not being able to stay awake and respectful during such a big deal, but since then my role has been reversed and I've had ample opportunity to watch shodan rank demos and while, to my credit, I haven't ever fallen asleep in one, they do get monotonous after a while.
Why does that have to be? Where is it written that there is one list of things that all up&coming shodans have to do to get their rank? What if there were some flexibility in how the demonstrations were done? I'm not talking about dancing velociraptors or backflips through flaming rings or anything. You don't even have to change the rank requirements - just demonstrate something besides the same 20 techniques in the same order that the 100 people before you did.
I've heard it said that any instructor worth anything can watch you do whatever you want to do for about 3-4 minutes and know what level you are. So, how about we inject some creativity into the rank demo process.
I bet it'd be fun for the students, and I bet more of the geriatric candy-stripers would stay awake longer ;-)
[photo courtesy of Wikipedia]
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