Monday, April 20, 2009

Shorinji Kan Orange Belt Test De-briefing

Yesterday I tested for orange belt in Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu. Today I feel like I've been hit by a Mac truck. I am happy to report, however, that I was awarded my orange belt with 3 mons (the highest level of pass for orange). :) I think the person who ordered the belt over-estimated the size of my waistline though.

Many people were interested to hear my impressions of my Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu grading so I'm happy to oblige now. My grading was intense, more intense than any other orange belt grading I've ever done (I've done three others in different styles). There is a reason for this.

One of the primary goals in Shorinji Kan gradings at all levels is to push the student to their mental and physical limits and see how well they do once they're there. Since the limits of what I can handle are fairly high, given my prior training and physical condition, the intensity was that much higher to push me there. Because of this, I was glad that all the ukes (attackers) for the test were brown belt or higher, mostly Dans (black belts) of varying degrees actually. They could dish out higher intensity attacks and take what comes back their way.

As for my own personal goals for the test, I'm happy to say that I achieved them. My main goals in training in Shorinji Kan were to get more opportunitues to focus more on different locks and throws that aren't as commonly used in my style of Jiu-jitsu (Can-ryu) and when I tested I felt there was a noticeable improvement.

Of course, there is always room for improvement in some areas and the testing process gave me insight as to what I'd like to work more on. I want to make my disarms quicker and smoother so that I have more time to react to additional attackers in V's. I'd also like to use V's more in practice since I had only got to do them once or twice before going into my grading, so I think I could have benefited from more training in them.

V training is something I've only seen in Shorinji Kan and now that I've had the chance to do a high intensity V, I really want to do more of them. If you don't know what this is, basically one person stands in the centre of the mats and at one end of the mats, a Sensei stands with two lines of attackers (sometimes they're armed with various weapons, sometimes they're unarmed). The Sensei runs the V, sending one attacker at a time from each line. The tori (defender) defends against each attacker as they come. As the V progresses, the Sensei sends attackers in progressively faster so that the tori ends up having to deal with additional attackers while not quite finished dispatching current ones. It's a great training drill that I would like to explore further.

If anyone is looking for advice on how to best handle the rigors of Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu gradings, my biggest tip is this: BREATHE! I breathed on every strike, throw, lock and fall (some of my breaths took the form of kiais). Also, when you get to a break and sit down while other students perform, be sure to take the opportunity to do deep breathing to slow your heart rate. Take a deep breath, hold it for 3 seconds, then slowly exhale. Good breathing strategy helped maintain my energy level and focus throughout the test.

Anyway, overall I very much enjoyed the challenges of the Shorinji Kan grading process. We also got to take part in a pretty cool seminar run by the Dans immediately after the grading. It was a lot of fun despite the lack of energy I had post-grading.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations. Where/when did you grade?

Lori O'Connell said...

Thanks! I graded just this past Sunday here in Vancouver. Well, technically it was in Burnaby at BCIT. Andy Dobie Sensei and Chris Brooks Sensei were the grading panel.

Anonymous said...

Many Congrats! You shall have to go to KFC for the next year or so though to fit into the belt. lol.

Anonymous said...


It's interesting to read your perspective on the difference between Shorinji Kan and CanRyu Jiu-jitsu. I'm trying to decide which one I want to give a try next year, once I get my black belt in karate.

Lori O'Connell said...

Mmmm... KFC. Miriam, whichever you decide to take, let me know where you live and I'll try to recommend a good dojo for you. Out of curiosity, which style of Karate are you studying? I studied Shotokan for several years and earned my brown belt way back in the day.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ottawa, Westboro specifically. While I could do some cross-training now, I rather wait until I earn my shodan, and also, there is the little thing called finances...

And I take karate at Douvris, so it's a mix of shotokan and chito-ryu. I'm at blue belt, but my sensei said I'm probably testing for brown in late June - things seem to be on track for a May 2010 grading for black.