The Path to Passing the Kendo Promotional Examination Part 2

Written by Hayashi Takahiro, Kendo Kyoshi 7-dan(Tozando)

Important points to take note of when taking the promotional examination

Last time we spoke about the Shodan promotional exam, so this time we will talk a bit more in detail about how to approach the promotional exam. For this post, I have decided to speak more about general things you need to think about when taking the promotional exam, so the following things can be applied to any Dan promotional exam. We will leave the more detailed tips for each and every Dan exam for the next post, so let’s start!


  • Have proper appearance and Reihō (etiquette)

Make sure that your Kendo Gi and Hakama is worn in the correct way. Be careful about wearing the correct sizes, so that your Gi or Hakama doesn’t look untidy because they are too big or small. Watch your manners and behavior, is your manners correct and does it come out naturally?

  • Have a appropriate posture

Is your standing posture natural? Make sure that your stance make sense when you perform your techniques.

  • Strike according to the basics

Is your Hasuji correct and do you strike from a suitable stance? Take care so that your strikes does not simply become strikes that hit the target. When you hit the target, remember to keep a proper and beautiful posture. After you hit, follow through and pass by your opponent properly. Make sure that you can perform Hiki-ashi quickly.

  • Don’t lose in terms of spirit

The first cry (kiai) is important! Let out your Kiai, be louder than your opponent and keep it sharp. Make sure that you perform proper Kiai when you hit your target.

  • Proficiency and practical application of all techniques

Are you able to properly use techniques you have learned during Keiko during the exam? Practice all techniques so that you can perform them without hesitating.

  • Have a high level of discipline

Can you show the judges a strong performance? Keep your concentration up for the whole session and perform the Tachiai with all of your might, keeping your shape to the end and enchant the people watching your performance.

  • “Winning the match”

Did you manage to get any valid strikes or not? Did you use techniques that fulfill all the previously mentioned requirements? Also in the offensive/defensive fight for superiority inside your Maai where you able to take the center line? Did you win in terms of spirit? Were you superior in terms of atmosphere and dignity? If you have the atmosphere and dignity of someone who will pass the exam, it will also affect the results.

Sometimes there are people who emits an aura of someone who will pass from the moment they step into the examination grounds. The aura can be felt when you see their standing posture, behavior, facial expression, eyes and so on. This is something that they have acquired and mastered through many hours of Keiko. It’s no use to talk about if you have been hit or not. Every single Keiko is important. If you want to succeed you need to listen closely to the Sensei who work as judges for the examinations while using your creativity and imagination to put their advice in to practice. Each Keiko needs to have an intention and purpose, only this way you will be able to pass the exam.

Remember that you are always the challenger.

The advice above is a summary of the important points based on my own promotional examination experience.