NGAExperience® Nihon Goshin Aikido

Controlling the Pace Of Your Test

By Jonathan Wilson

How to Pace Your Defenses in the Attack/ Self Defense Line So You Stay Fresh the Entire Sho-Dan Test:  

2 months before my own sho-dan test, I competed in my first bodybuilding contest (where I managed to finish dead last in the Masters Over 40 Division, and second to last in the Novice Division).  Did I mention that I’m a pretty terrible bodybuilder?  That said ~ I was extremely lean when I tested for Sho-dan.  I think I weighed around 185 pounds at the time of the test, which is a lot less than the 220 pounds I had been carrying around prior.  Still despite the lost weight, I struggled with fatigue issues during the multi attacker portion of my test.  Staying fresh would have improved my finish, and could possibly improve yours also.  So how do we stay fresh longer?  

Here are two suggestions.  

Suggestion A:  Breathe:

As you execute your techniques, think about your breathing.  I seem to be fond of holding my breath during techniques for some reason.  I do not recommend the practice, however, as excessive holding of one’s breath is not conducive to consciousness.  So breath ~ and breath frequently.  How though?

Well, Kiais (short martial shout uttered when performing an attack) help you breath, but they might work against you if you find yourself tensing up as you kiai.  If you tense up, you lose the relaxed aikido feeling we’re trying to establish, and you might not breathe normally after that.  Truth be told relying exclusively on the kiai might be counterproductive.  


One of the things I’ve been thinking about some is the idea of exhaling when I respond to the attack and inhaling as I perform technique ~ which is essentially a silent kiai.  This is a real hit miss operation for me right now, but it something all soon to be sho-dans need to be considering.

Suggestion B:  Pin Don’t Project:

When you begin to feel fatigue creeping in, consider this: after uke’s initial attack, link a few techniques together.  Make the transition from each technique more slowly than the previous one ~ to demonstrate control.  Then slowly take Uke to the ground and methodically pin him (take 10 seconds, or more, on the pin).  After uke taps, slowly release the pin, and recover into a ready position relative to uke.  After uke has recovered, reorient yourself to the attack line and prepare for the next attack.  

Slowing the transitions and pinning sequence down will slow your work rate down, demonstrate maximum control to your evaluator.  It will also allow you to catch your breath during the pin!  Do not wait until you begin to feel exhausted to start doing this.  As soon as you begin to feel like you’re a little winded, starting pinning uke.  

Of course, if you do pin uke excessively, your test will last for a couple of days (watch my sho-dan test as an example of a test that lasted over an hour as a case in point), but if every third or forth attack results in a pin, you can use pinning opportunities to slow things down and catch your breath without extending your test too long.

What say ye?



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