Training for my 4th Kyu Test in Aikido

It’s test review time in Aikido. Here’s what I need to know:

In our dojo, you don’t decide to test. Others decide for you. Those who are ready are invited to test. You do train to test though and that’s what I’m up to. The idea, which I love, is that you aren’t asked to test if you aren’t ready. Everyone is expected to pass the test which makes standing up in front of the class, all eyes watching, being judged by Senseis in their white pajamas and black skirts, a little less nerve wracking.

The black skirts, by the way, are called “hakamas.” Here’s an explanation of who wears one.

They are tricky to fold, I hear.


While I like this approach to testing, it does tend to make the weeks leading up to test time a little stressful though. All that observing!

For past posts on Aikido see Aikido and training to test, This is how I feel sometimes about Aikido, Life lessons from Kenny Rogers and Aristotle, I did it! I tested for 5th kyu in AIkido!, Six Things I Love about Aikido and Six Things I Struggle With and Heaven and Earth Throws: My Favourite.

This time  I am going to prepare as if testing and if I’m not asked it won’t go to waste. There is another test at the end of the summer and this year it looks like I might actually be here for it. Research and conference travel haven’t always fit well with Aikido testing and I’ve progressed more slowly that I might otherwise because of work and all my other active commitments. See On being a Jill of all sports.

In the videos that follow, you can see the techniques I’m working on for this test in addition to Aikido’s basic movements. Apologies for all the dudes in the videos that follow. Aikido isn’t that much of a sausage-fest in real life. But all the You Tube videos of basic techniques and test techniques seem to be made by guys. (See A poster, a DVD, and a blog post about women in Aikido.)

Shomen Uchi Yonkajo Osae (1)

Mune Mochi Hijishime (2)

Shomen Uchi Kotegaeshi (2)

Ryote Mochi Tenchi Nage (1)

Suwari Waza Ryote Mochi Kokyu Ho (1)

On one section of the test they can also call techniques from past tests. As a result just memorizing the order of the test won’t work this time. I’m working on my Japanese. “Mochi” for instance means “grab.” Other tough stuff: kneeling techniques. Ouch, ouch, ouch my knees. Also, advanced breakfalls. But I’m getting there. I’m seeing real progress and I’m a lot more patient with myself. Maybe as 50 approaches, I’m finally treating myself with the compassion I know that others deserve.

Thanks to Sensei Derek for helping me learn the Japanese. Here’s my crib sheets!

aikido2 aikido1

5 thoughts on “Training for my 4th Kyu Test in Aikido

  1. Will you start wearing a hakama at 4th kyu? In our dojo, we don’t start until shodan. Sometimes we start practicing with it a short time before the shodan test to get used to putting it on and to learn the whole process of folding it up before we actually have to wear it for all practice. Your picture for folding it should be very helpful in learning all the folds, but there is one step I was taught that it omits, straightening out the back pleats before flipping it over to straighten the front pleats and begin folding. I’ve found a clothespin to be very helpful for keeping the pleats tidy before folding – I keep a couple in my bag.

    1. No, not at 4th. We’re the same as you. I just thought it was interesting what the black skirts were and how they get folded. Love the way they look!

  2. They do look cool, and you will get a lot of attention if you wear a hakama out in public for a demonstration or whatever. If you get a good quality hakama dyed with real indigo, you will get to go through a long complex process to set the dye with vinegar. Even after doing that you will have blue hands every time you touch it for a long, long time and your gi will turn blue everywhere the hakama rubs. Wearing a hakama will also add time to your practice – 5 minutes to getting dressed for class, 10 minutes to fold it up properly after class – plan to allow more time to get to class on time. In warm weather, especially in the humidity of Tokyo in July, wearing a hakama will raise your body temperature another notch and help you lose any water weight you may be carrying. Best of all, the stiff back panel on a hakama makes an excellent back support and will improve your posture. You have a lot to look forward to – I posted some thoughts about wearing a hakama recently:

    Good luck with the 4th kyu test, it gets easier each level even though the test content may be more challenging.

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