6th KYU Test Preperation

This page contains notes that I am using to get ready for my 6th KYU test.  I am sharing these in the hopes they will be useful to members of my Aikido family.

Sensei describes the 6th KYU test as a “confidence” test.  He is not looking for perfection in any of the exercises/moves.  He is looking for intent and confidence.  I take this to mean that mistakes are OK as long as they are handled with grace (do not get flustered/upset). I expect that patience and an calm approach with respect to the test are important.

Bow In

Sensei is kneeling in the upper right hand corner ofthe mat. Uke and Nage enter the mat from the lower center of the mat and kneel.  At this time Sensei will indicate the person and test being taken.  (He may instruct the two then to bow in and which bows to perform depending on the test.  For the 6th KYU test he may walk the students through the bow in.)

For all bows, the Senpai should attempt to mirror Sensei and the lower ranking student(s) should closely mirror the Senpai.  (The Senpai should be seen to initiate the entry and exit of a bow.)

First Bow – Formal Bow at mat edge.

  • Both Uke and Nage perform the bow towards the center of the front of the room.
  • Facing forward they perform the bow by putting their left hand down first, then the right.

Second Bow – Informal Bow at mat center.

  • Uke and Nage shikko to the center of the mat.
  • An informal bow (left hand then right hand followed by the bow) should be performed.

Third Bow – Informal Bow to Sensei

  • Uke and Nage shikko to the face Sensei.  They should both shikko in a manner that shows coordination so that they both end the shikko at the same time. Their knees should be in a straight line facing Sensei.
  • This is an informal bow.

Fourth Bow –  Uke and Nage bow to each other

  • Uke and Nage back shikko to the center of the room.  They then shikko so that they are facing each other with plenty of space so that they do not bang their heads during the bow.
  • This is an informal bow.
  • At the conclusion of the bow the Uke should shikko and exit the mat.
  • Nage will then follow the direction of Sensei. (Most likely starting with a Hamni stance facing on the (side/side) of the mat.] In the absence of directions (which will not happen) the person taking the test should seiza.

Rolls

  • Sensei will request a forward and backward roll in both directions.
  • The rolls should be fluid, and result in the correct stance.
  • Remember to breath through the rolls.

Eight Direction Move

  • From the center of the mat in a right hamni facing the front of the room (left of Sensei).
  • Each step being taken should show an extension of the arms with kokyu and have the back leg brought forward to always end with a proper hamni stance.
  • When performing the 45% and 90% rotation always move the (forward) left leg in a clockwise manner, the right leg rotates to keep hamni.
  • Ichi –      Step forward with the right leg.
  • Ni –        Turn. Step forward with the left leg.
  • San –     Perform a 90% rotation. Turn. Step forward with the right leg.
  • Shi –      Turn. Step forward with the left leg.
  • Go –       Perform a 45% rotation. Turn. Step forward with the right leg.
  • Roku –   Turn. Step forward with the left leg.
  • Shichi – Perform a 90% rotation. Turn Step forward with the right leg.
  • Hachi –  Turn. Step forward with the left leg.

Tenkan and Irimi

  • Uke and Nage are in opposite hamni’s (one left/one right).  The move is performed for each stance (Uke in left, Nage and right then Uke in right, Nage in left).   The space between uke and nage (maai) should allow for a Shomen attack.
  • The Uke performs the Shomen attack as follows:
    • Raises the forward arm (arm on the same side as the foot that is “froward”)
    • Steps directly forward with the forward leg toward the Nage.
    • Swings the forward arm down (chop) at the location where the Nage’s head is when the attack begins. (Do not attempt to track the nage with the strike.)
    • Kiai!!
  • The Nage performs either Tenkan or Irimi depending on the exercise requested by Sensei.  This is performed once for each right and left hamni.

Taino Henko & Taino Henko Kino Nagare

  • Uke and Nage are in opposite hamni’s (one left/one right).  The move is performed for each stance (Uke in left, Nage and right then Uke in right, Nage in left).   The space between uke and nage (maai) should allow for a Shomen attack.
  • The Nage extends his arm when ready to perform the move.  Make sure the hand is engaged – project Ki!
  • Uke grasps the wrist.
    • For Kino Nagare there is space between and the Uke performs a step forward while grabbing the wrist.  The Uke needs to slightly telegraph the move.
  • Nage performs Taino Henko:
    • Tenkan started by stepping to the side (off the center) with Nage big toe near and pointing toward Uke forward foot.
    • Make sure to get connection with Uke.
    • Proper hamni at end.
    • Good kokyu (think arms holding a heavy bag).
    • Make sure to “kiai”.
    • Uke should make sure that the wrist grab has no space during the whole move.  The Uke should also get the guard arm up.

Morote Dori Kokyu Ho

  • Uke and Nage are in the same hamni’s (both left or both right).
  • Setup:
    • Uke steps forward (and slightly off center) with the back leg while starting a neck grab with the same sided hand as the back leg.
    • Nage blocks the neck grab using the forward hand.
    • Uke grabs the wrist of blocking hand with the same hand that started the neck grab.  The Uke then throws a punch at the Nage’s ribs with the other hand.
    • Uke then grabs the wrist with the punching hand and shifts his (now back) foot over slightly so that he is off center from the Nage.  The Uke now has a two-handed grasp on the Nage’s wrist.
  • Nage performs Irimi to the front foot side.  Make sure it is a full 180% Irimi.
  • The Nage’s captured arms should “shovel” underneath the Uke’s arms. (Never between them.)  Palms up and arms with good kokyu.
  • Nage steps behind the Uke back heel.
  • Nage rotates torso (center) while keeping his head forward.  Make sure the arms stay centered during the rotation, it is the center that does all the work.
  • While rotating the center the Nage twists wrists so palms end up facing out with arms in kokyu.
  • The back foot should come with the movement so that a hamni results (the same hamni as started with.)
  • Head should stay facing back, do not let it rotate with the move.
  • Kiai.

Shomen Uchi Ikkyo

(Hand Bladed Strike to top of head (Shomen uchi), First control form(Ikkyo))

Omote Waza (Front Pin)

  • Uke and Nage are in the same hamni’s (both left or both right).
  • Nage performs a neck grab motion with the front hand (same side as front leg) to get a reaction from the Uke.
  • Uke raises their front arm to block.
  • Nage takes a single step with the front leg to the front of the Uke. The back hand grasps just under the elbow and the hand that went for the neck grab goes for the wrist.
  • The Nage then takes a second step forward while taking the Uke’s elbow up and the wrist down causing the Uke to bend over at the waist.
  • The Nage then takes a step with the back leg through the center of the Uke while using Kokyu through the arms to place the Uke face down on the mat.
  • The Nage should finish the pin with the knee closest to the Uke at the Uke’s underarm. Nage’s back and head should be straight and upright.  Nage’s arms should have kokyu. Feet should be under the Nage knelling stance (have toes on the mat, not flat).

Ura Waza (Back Pin)

  • Uke and Nage are in the same hamni’s (both left or both right).
  • Nage performs a neck grab motion with the front hand (same side as front leg) to get a reaction from the Uke.
  • When Uke raises the arm to block the Nage takes a single step with the back leg to the back side of the Uke. The front hand grasps just under the elbow and the hand that went for the neck grab goes for the wrist.
  • The Nage should make a mountain out of the arm (elbow as the peak).
  • The Nage then “drives” the arm down the mountain using a backward spining motion (similar to tenkan).  This driving involves directing the arm down and around.
  • The Nage should avoid using “arm strength” to get the Uke down. Instead the arm should go to kokyu and the Nage’s center should be used to motivate the Uke to the mat.
  • Finish the pin exactly as omote waza.

Kokyu Dosa

  • Nage and Uke seiza facing each othe with a fist width between their knees.
  • Nage presents his arms to the Uke.  The Nage’s hands should have Ki with palms facing each other.  It is useful for the Nage to make sure that his hands invade the center of the Uke.
  • Uke grasps the wrists of the Nage’s hands.
  • Nage “palms up”.
  • Nage brings arms into kokyu towards the Uke’s head.  (As if to pie the Uke in the face.)
  • Nage then uses his center to rotate to a side.
  • Nage should finish with back straigh,t and arms in kokyu over the Uke, and on the balls of their feet..

Bokken: 1st Suburi (Ichi No Suburi)

Sensei will instruct the student to retrieve his bokken.  He will the ask the student to draw his weapon, say the name of the first suburi, and demonstrate  the first suburi.

Drawing the bokken – entering Ken Kamae:

  • Start with bokken in left hand, blade up, with hilt forward.
  • Big toes of each foot should be touching with heels separated.
  • Knees bent.
  • Make sure the stance shows energy and that you are “coiled” ready for any attack.
  • Bring the hilt up to the center of the body while at the same time bringing the right hand, palm facing out from the body, to the center of the body.  The hilt should meet the area where the thumb meets the hand.
  • The right pinky grasps the hilt with the hilt resting on the thumb.
  • The left hand comes over the blade so that the blade is free to swing upward (the arm is between the blade and left side of the body).
  • The right hand rotates the blade up and over, at the same time the right foot takes a step forward.
  • The left hand comes forward to meet the hilt below the right hand.
  • You should be in a correct right hamni stance with knees bent and center coiled.
  • The sword tip should be pointed at throat level.
  • This is called “ken kamae”.
  • Your hands should have the hilt with proper kokyu. The index knuckles should be up and over, the pinky finger of each hand firmly wrapped around the hilt of the blade.

The name of the first Suburi is “Ichi No Suburi”. Say the name then from ken kamae and then perform ichi no suburi:

  • Bring the front foot back until it touches the back foot.  At the same time bring the bokken above the head in preparation for the strike.  Recall when raising the bokken to keep the following in mind:
    • Keep the arms together and in front of you. Do not let your elbows extend upward or outward as this will gives your opponent an opening.
    • Coil downward in your stance.
    • Make sure your center is facing forward.
    • The end of the hilt should be over your head just out of normal vision. If you look upwards with just your eyes you should be able to see the bottom of the hilt.
  • To strike bring the front foot forward and at the same time bring the blade downward:
    • The strike should be perfectly down your center. There should be no side to side motion.
    • The strike should end at your waist with the blade perfectly straight out in front of you. To avoid a “bounce” at the end make sure your arms and hands are expressing kokyu throughout the strike.
    • End with a kiai.

Jo: 1st Suburi (Choku tsuki)

Sensei will instruct the student to retrieve his jo.  He will the ask the student to demonstrate the first jo suburi.

Drawing the jo:

  • Start in a left hamni. Make sure you are centered, coiled, and in the moment.
  • The jo will be planted directly in front of the left foot.
  • The left hand grasps the jo so that the left arm is bent and expressing kokyu.
  • At this point the student should say “Choku tsuki”.
  • The right hand comes down below the left hand and starts to slide towards the waste.  The left hand should stay exactly where it is and only the right hand should be moving (is this correct?).
  • The student should continue to keep his eyes forward while the right hand travels back along the jo. The hand is used to “look” for the end of the jo.  Once it finds it the pinky finger should coil around the end of the jo and the rest of the right hand should express kokyu.
  • If possible the student should check their form, make sure the are coiled, centered, and in the moment.

Performing the strike:

  • The front foot takes a step forward while the back hand pulls the jo back. The tip fo the jo should be pulled to just inside the grasp of the left hand (for my arm length, find the confort zone).  Make sure not to straighten the back arm out too much or pull the arm upward.  The jo should travel in a straight line backward, not angled up or down.
  • To strike the back foot drives forward toward the front foot and the back arm drives forward toward the front arm.  Keep in mind the following:
    • The front arm stays stationary. Its job is to guide the strike.
    • The back arm needs to come forward as far as it can without overextending the stance.  It should never get to the front hand, but it should pass the waste.
    • The back arm should travel tightly against the side as it is thrust forward.
    • The jo tip should be aiming at the solar plexus of the opponent.
    • Sensei described how it is often the case that the jo will have a slight spiral motion as it goes forward, but it will hone in on the target at the end of the strike (I am not there yet).
  • Kiai.

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