10 Sep 2017

Finally, my Ni (2nd) Dan grading!

Over a period of five years, including three years of hiatus, two years of searching, talking and waiting, the grading came and went, the rest is history.

Graded and passed. Whew! Can’t believe I took such a long time to reach this point.

Christine Ang Makoto Ito

Christine with Ito Sensei after grading

I have been running back and forth with my posts of events not running in chronological order. Whenever the thoughts flow, or when an event or incident inspires me to write it down, lest I forget, I write. It’s not often easy to have thoughts flowing smoothly on ends.

Here’s an account on the chain of events  leading to my recent Aikido Ni Dan certification examination.

When it all Began!

Started my first Aikido lesson in Oct 2004, and was active for a few years, at some point doing 3-4 sessions of training weekly. In Jul 2012, I declared to myself and to my close Aikido circle of friends that I’m taking a break. I travel much during that time and couldn’t keep up with training. I had to cope with other personal priorities at that time too.

During my break, Aikido was constantly on my mind. Though I don’t physically train, I watch videos of my favorite Teachers all the time, especially when waiting for flights at airport or on board during trips. Never once in my mind had it occured that I would totally stop doing Aikido. 

Birth of Living Impact Aikido

As of post time, it’s almost 2.5 years since my Aikido school, Living Impact Aikido started business with a partner.

My close Aikido circle of friends were in my life all along during my years of absence. We gathered for countless sashimi and durian parties in my house, celebrated many birthdays in our favorite Japanese restaurant and many other Sake and food sessions. 

I was in touch with one person in that group more often than the rest. We chat, met over coffee and dinner, and at times, driving trips across the causeway for food. She became my business partner.

It was merely an idea that tossed in my mind in early 2015. Been contemplating for the longest time to return to Aikido, Perhaps I was getting bored.

Over a coffee session, I toyed the idea with her, and shared my tboughts on how we could build Aikido as a business. I did not ask her for an answer or decision. Told her the downside she would face doing this with me. There will be losses and sacrifices.

Didn’t want to rush her for a hasten decision knowing that she’s already quite established as an Instructor at that time, and I was a dropout wanting to come back.

Choosing her as my partner was intentional, it was not to live off her established status, but she was my choice and preferred partner at that time bearing my considerations. I will make the same proposition today!

She said yes! I was grateful.

Living Impact Aikido was born in May 2015 when we officially set up our company. It was on 7 Jul, some two months later that we begin our first class in our first dojo with only three students.

Today, we have five classes and approximately 50 students who pay fees monthly. Nothing big to scream about, but sustains us and kept our passion and enthusiasm burning.

We Need to Upgrade

We conduct in-house grading for our students to progress from white to black belts. When it comes to ourselves, we’re stuck. For Dan grading, which is the progression after black belt, we need an  authorized person from the Japan Aikido HQ to grade us, and the certification is internationally recognized. 

Personally, I hadn’t thought about the importance at the beginning and we deliberated in finding one. After a failed attempt with one organization, and another that falls through, we’re back at square one after searching for over a year.

I was frustrated as I had the urgency to grade to my next level. Thankful that my partner had graded prior to this, and could wait a few years before her next.

Fortunately, we caught up with some good people who got us connected directly with the Japan HQ. The wait is over!

My Ni Dan Grading

One year is all I needed to wait towards my grading. This is the longest one year in my Aikido journey.

Needless to say, it is one where I’m in an entirely different position. Previously, I was a student grading from another organization, this time round, I’ represent myself as the owner and Instructor from my own organization, and the grading will be from someone I’m totally unfamiliar with.

I was excited, but not overly anxious, strangely.

That one year, I did lots of training with Teachers from many organizations and countries, even traveling overseas. One of the best benefit that comes with setting up my own organization is having the freedom to choose whom and where I want to train. Absolutely no restrictions or protocols to follow as compared to previously. I had a fulfilling year of training, meeting and networking with fellow Aikido practitioners from around the world.

What’s Next?

Grading day come and gone like a blink on my eyelid.

I’m truly grateful to the people who made this day possible for me. My business partner, who’s also my uke a.k.a. sparing partner, my other uke, my team, all the Senseis who have taught me in the past. You have all contributed to this day. Thank you!

christine ang

So, what’s next? My next grading to San (3rd) Dan? Definitely that’s on my card, possibly two years from now. Over the more than 10 years in my Aikido journey, I hardly ever run after grading to pursue my progress. Quite often, my Instructors and my current business partner are the ones who reminded and nudge me to go for it.

As of now, in my capacity as a owner and Instructor of an Aikido organization, I have the compulsion to constantly upgrade myself to upkeep my personal standards, as well as maintaining standards for my students and organization.

It is pointless to pursue the status without the substance. I’ve witness countless individuals who hanker over the colors of their belts and run after every grading. Accepted that the natural step after learning is progression. However, there is no rush to do it in record time with the risk of undermining standards, which I’ve seen in many.

That said, I’m mindful of walking my talk. I make it a point to attend as many training sessions as I could. In every learning session, I strive to unlearn first, focus on the teaching and relearn new things from each lesson.

Today’s gratitude lesson:
I’m grateful for my promotion and for all the people who made this day possible.

Read the rest of #365 Gratitude 2016 here

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