Nidan Grading Part 2

Waking up early Saturday morning on the 11th of November, 2011, James Duggan Shihan took myself and Andrew (along with other students attempting gradings) to the seminar hall for some early morning Sanchin and Tencho training. In hindsight this was probably one of my most productive sessions not only to improve on some marginal changes that I required but also to prepare mentally for the grading that was to occur that afternoon.

The biggest change I had to deal with in my Sanchin kata was standing off centre in my sanchin stance. What I mean by this is that I was leaning back into my rear leg throughout the stance which was putting my weight distribution back too far. I had previously corrected this in my top half of my body by straightening my back but inevitably, when one problem is corrected you have to be cautious of other problems occurring. In this case it was sitting back into my stance, similar to slouching in your chair whilst driving a car or sitting in an office chair. But as always, just having Jamie Shihan there to take a look and give some feedback allowed me to at least give this a go at correcting in time for the grading. We also focused a lot on Tencho and finalising a few points in the breathing.

Later in the day, aft completing some of the standard sessions through the seminar, Glenn Stephenson Shihan (our head instructor for Goju Ryu Karate do Seiwakai Australia) took us through Seiunchin kata. This was intense as Glenn Shihan had very high expectations for us throughout this session. At one stage I recall the quote of the day being “This is Goju Ryu not kan ga roo”, referring to someone who was executing a yori ashi dachi by hopping onto the front foot instead of pushing from the rear and creating drive in the technique. All in all, it was another great session to prepare for the grading.

Let’s skip ahead now to the grading as I have delayed this way too long already (first post being back in November).


So after all this, I found out that evening that both Andrew and I passed our Nidan grading which made me extremely happy. I was also very happy that the grading was brought forward to Saturday afternoon (it was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon) so I was able to have a few celebratory drinks and enjoy the Sunday a bit more without freaking out about the grading.

About Jay Killeen

I began training in 2004 under the guidance of James Duggan Shihan. I have since achieved my Nidan in Goju Ryu Karate do Seiwakai. My favourite kata is Sanchin and I enjoy the challenge of kumite against great opponents.


  1. Excellent insight into what it takes to do a Nidan grading.

    Congrats to you and all who passed!

    • Arigato Charlie-San!!

      It was definitely a grading to remember and it looks as if I may be doing it all again in Adelaide in March to complete my Nidan in the Goju Kai. I have heard that we may have some of the masters from Japan visiting us. This adds to the pressure of the grading as they bring the homeland aspect. You do not want to disappoint the masters.

      Also for those that are not familiar with the Goju Ryu Karate do Seiwakai grading style for Dan grades. For Nidan I had to perform Sanchin, Tencho and Seiunchin kata followed by three two minute rounds of jiyu kumite. Now I have heard people’s surprise at how little content is required at these gradings but I can assure you that it is much easier (in my opinion) to complete a 2-3 hour grading that challenges you physically but allows you lefty of room for error as opposed to a grading where you are only on the floor for less than 12 minutes in total but mentally you are put through the gauntlet.

      This grading was the result of over 250 hours of training and condensing that into a 12 minute period just goes to show the magnitude of the achievement. We are only allowed two errors throughout the grading and that can be as simple as incorrect hand posture or breathing.

      It is the most challenging accomplishment to date and I cherish it.

  2. Congrats! Dan testing is not easy. Wish me luck on mine in August!!

  3. Thank you Erin!

    All the best to you too. What do you need to do for your grading? Is it structured anything similar to mine, I assume it would not be as it is a diff style. It would be a good to get an insight though into what other people have to go to in order to achieve 2nd Dan.

    I am sure with hard work and training you will do great.

    • Hey Jay,
      We’re pretty lucky in the fact our Grand Master likes to conduct all Dan testing himself. He will fly all over the United States just to be there for even one student. It can be pretty intimidating to stand there with Grand Master and all the other masters watching you to see if you mess up. Lucky for me, I was testing with two other people so all the attention wasn’t on me ALL of the time.

      Our structure of the tests are fairly similar. We start with our required forms then move into our creative forms (with and without weapon), we run through the basics (kicks, strikes and blocks), then we go into our combinations. After that we do weapon defenses and finally all the black belts present at the test have a chance to come out and spar. The very last thing we do is board breaking.

      It makes for a long and very tiring test. But it was so worth it at the end.

      Wishing you a great day.

  4. I just realised as well that I had accidentally put a round of Andrew sparring for my third round. I have fixed this. I will also try to get the other two rounds of Andrew shortly.

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