At a recent Aikido seminar four Aikidoists were called up to give a brief demonstration and were then presented their Godan (Fifth Dan) Certificates. An observer was heard to remark “that was an easy test.”
The Godan rank is actually the first rank to be awarded not by a “test” but upon recommendation by the student’s Sensei (teacher). The Sensei must write a letter of recommendation to the leader (the grandson of the founder of Aikido) of Aikido’s International Organization explaining why the student is deserving of the honor.
The student’s first Aikido class may have been 25 or 35 years ago and yet their time on the mat is not the only factor in receiving this honor. As one can imagine during this time of Aikido practice perhaps even the lifetime of other students on the mat, the Aikidoist has received injuries and disappointments both on and off the mat and yet they return to practice and share with others what they have experienced through the art of Aikido.
They are living examples of the Founder’s exhortation to:
“practice in a joyful manner!”
It is this dedication to the art of peace and their ability to harmonize the demands of everyday life and Aikido training that earns them the right to receive the Godan certificate.
It is their ability to experience the sorrows of life and yet live life in a joyful manner, to as the old Japanese Proverb states “Fall Seven times, Stand up Eight” that allows them to successfully participate in the ultimate black belt test, which is life itself.