Konjaku Kioi Toyama Ryu Dojo Toyama Ryu Batto Do
Konjaku Kioi Dojo
(Ancient and Modern Fighting Spirit Dojo)
5980 66th St N Suite M
St Petersburg FL 33709
Email: info@toyama-ryu.com
Phone: 727-329-9679
Yari (Spear)

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Rank Testing

By Mike Femal Sensei

There is one event that students both anticipate and dread.  That event is formal testing.  This is a chance to show what you have learned.  It is an opportunity to shine and pass or to falter and fail.  Testing in the Konjaku Kioi Toyama Ryu Dojo is not a rubber stamp affair.  It is a real test that students must be prepared to fail.   There are two parts of the formal test.  The first is a demonstration of kata and the second is tameshigiri.  At each rank certain kata and tameshigiri patterns are required.  This is not a test about how much you have improved, but an objective assessment against the standards of the dojo.  This makes it a hard goal to reach, but one worth working for.

As rank testing approaches, each student must step up the level of their training.  It is a time to improve and polish what has been learned.  November was the training crunch month for five members of the dojo.  Each had improved so much since joining the dojo, but all of them had issues that needed work.  Training together in the dojo we become like a family.  It may be a strange dysfunctional family at times, but I am proud of each of my students.  I measure my success as a teacher by the success of my students.  I wanted them all to pass, but the standards for passing have to be maintained.  Rank and certificates are only worth what each person puts into the effort to reach them.  Beyond the dojo, they are only pieces of paper and empty titles. 

The hardest part of the test is the tameshigiri and the margin for passing is slim.  It is not enough to cut through the target.  There can be no shakuri (curved cut), yama (peaked - intersecting cuts), or chipu (thin cut that breaks apart).  The cuts must all be clean and the angles must be near perfect.  It is difficult to perform consistent Tameshigiri and even the best have bad days.  The beginning of the month assessment was bleak for the Shodan candidates.  They had from 25% to 50% chance of passing the tameshigiri section of the test. 

April 2011 Testing

On April 13th there was a surprise rank testing. Contratuations Rob achieved nikyu, James achieved shoudan, and Sherry achieved nidan. Steven attemped his nidan test as well. Well done everyone! Pictures from the event can be seen here (click me)!

Fall Testing 2006

There was allot of work to do and little time left to accomplish it.  I asked every member of the dojo to step up the intensity of their training for the month.  Normal class is four hours a week, but students were asked to bring their training outside the dojo into their everyday lives.  All the Shodan candidates had one last training session on the last weekend before testing.  I soaked all the tatami they wanted and there was one last tameshigiri cutting fest.  With the bamboo rustling and the dim lights shining on the cutting stand in the night, they cut until they ran out of tatami.  After watching them that night, I thought their chances had improved allot in one month.

The day of testing finally came.  It was a hot night in the dojo despite being the end of November.  There were five people testing for rank, and I could see they were all very very nervous.  There is nothing quite like standing up in front of teachers and your fellow students and having to perform alone.  Waiting for your turn to come is nerve wracking.  My job is easier in some ways, but having to give students the bad news about failing is not much fun either.  I watch each student and measure them against the standard I have set for the dojo.  The kata section of the test is over without any fatal mistakes, even if a few students do seem like they are ready to pass out or throw up by the time they finish.  There has been a big improvement in the focus of all the students.

When judging for the Batto Federation I failed about 2/3 of all people testing.  I expect more from my students, and they know it.  I let them know that it is okay to fail rank testing.  Tameshigiri is a very objective test.  The criteria for passing and failing is pretty cut and dry.  There is one retry allowed if the first attempt fails.  Each of the students came up and performed the required cuts without any problems.  Each passed on the first attempt.  I was very proud of my students - and glad I did not have to fail any of them.

The reputation of a dojo is based as much on the students as the instructor.  I am proud of the students of the Konjaku Kioi Toyama Ryu Dojo.  November was a good month for hard training and performing under pressure.  Congratulations to the students who passed the Fall testing!

Promotion Picture
Fall 2006 Promotion Group Photo

  • Stephan Peck  スティブン ペック  - Shodan
  • Peter Hoang  ピーター ホアング - Shodan
  • Arthur Fain  アーサー フェイン  - Shodan
  • Andrew Buraban  アンドリュ ブーラーバン - Ikkyu
  • Joe Davis  ジョー デイビス - Sankyu

Copyright 2006 by Konjaku Kioi Toyama Ryu Dojo, All rights reserved.

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