Written by Hayashi Takahiro, Kendo Kyoshi 7-dan(Tozando)
Part 1: Passing the Shodan examination
The first real obstacle to anyone who starts Kendo is passing the Shodan examination, during which your most basic Kendo knowledge will be put to the test.
Depending on where you are taking the examination, the actual contents of it might vary. However I believe that in most cases, it would generally contain some drills of practical skill, such as Kirikaeshi and short Jigeiko. After that you would have to perform Kata and do a written exam.
First and foremost you need to pay attention to Chakusō(your appearance) and Reihō (etiquette). This part, as with all the examinations up to the 8-dan examination, these factors are most important, and there is a need to thoroughly imprint them into your mind and body from the beginning. The technique of how to properly put on and take off your Bogu goes without saying. From the angle of your Rei (bow), the position of the Tai-tō, the position of the Sage-tō, the stepping width, Sonkyō, and so on, I believe that doing your best to practice each aspect of these techniques is a shortcut to passing the exam.
As for the practical exam, you are expected to strike according to the basics of Kendo, swinging your Shinai with vigor and spirit with the correct posture and ending with proper Zanshin. The techniques in Kendo will become more polished as you grow older and gain more experience through hours and hours of practice. I believe that the foundation of that is the contents of the Shodan examination.
The promotional examination can be seen as a means of seeing if you are appropriate for that specific grade. Regardless of wins and losses, your atmosphere and whether or your Kendo is appropriate for that level is of more importance.
My own memory of the Shodan examination is that when it came to the written exam, I found that I had forgotten to bring my pencils and had to borrow some from the boy (a junior high school student from another school) sitting beside me. When I entered high school as a freshman, by coincidence we actually ended up in the same class.
That however is story that is completely unrelated to the shodan examination. (＾＾)
Up to the 7-dan examination, I would keep writing posts like this for your reference. Next time I will write more in-depth about the practical exam for the Shodan examination.
To be continued