I passed my nidan (2nd-dan) exam in kendo on March 2nd. I’d been training for this since August and I went in with a feeling of comfortable accomplishment. Whether or I would pass or not, my sense was that I was in a comfortable nexus point, between wanting to pass and also seeing this as a single way-point on a longer journey.
My preparation for the exam was a return to the basics of kendo. An emphasis on posture, introspection, and commitment to every strike (well, mostly…that last point is a work in progress but I feel that I am adequate to my level for now). I also did gym training to support my kendo efforts.
Things that I did well at my exam:
1. Strong kiai
2. Good breath control
3. Basic, strong strikes, pushing from my hips
4. Not backing away from my opponents
5. Strong and comfortable sonkyo.
There is a lot more that I need to work on but, at this way-point, I will not rest on my laurels as I know that the next two years before I test again must be filled with even harder work.