Two significant things have occurred in my budo training recently. The first moment happened at the end of an aikido training session. We had just bowed out for the night when my sensei walked over to me and said most casually "I think you should grade for your nidan at the end of the year."
Now, grades or rank have never been a driving force for why I train. I see rank as a side-effect of training. So I never ask to be tested and am always surprised when I am asked. I have been a shodan for four years and was happy with my lot. However, sensei has decided it is time I go for it. I am excited and honoured to have been asked.
The second occassion was a Tuesday night training session with the TSYR group. We were asked to bring our swords (not bokken) and wear our hakama. This is unusual for a Tuesday night as this training session is only an hour long, straight after an adult karate class. As most of the group are karateka they simply stay in their karate dogi and pick up a bokken. I travel across town from my aikido training so my hakama is always with me. Tuesday training is usually paired bokken kata. So to ask the group to bring their real swords and dress in hakama means we are to do something else. I do not have a sword so I just thought I would use my bokken as I have done before with live sword work. Upon arrival at the dojo I am told that two of the group have received their swords from overseas and the spare club one was now available for me to use until I get the money together for my own. So for the time-being I now have a sword to train with. As I have said before, it is nothing like using a bokken so I am quite excited.
The TSYR sensei is overseas at the moment at an instructors seminar so the study group is on its own for training. That is OK, it gives us an opportunity to practice the basics well.
My focus will be now on polishing up my aikido for the end of the year and at the same time remembering to clean and polish the sword I have in my possession.