One of my goals for the organization right from the beginning was to create a program that would inspire a student to train beyond the shodan level.
During the seventies there was so much focus on just the fighting aspect and getting a black belt that once achieved many dropped off and missed a whole aspect of the art. A big reason for this was that the training approach was very severe and abusive with a ego-centred mentality in many. If instructors did no know better they just made things harder; so many just got afraid to continue. Yes, anyone testing for the black belt level must show they can defend themselves and respond to an attack but not to the point where you think you have to take someone out or down to make yourself look good. One's highest skill is always demonstrated in the kata where the opponent is the self.
This grading and this year has seen a high number of students testing for sandan level which is all about expressing the principles of the art, which is not an easy task. It's great to see so many stay with the training long enough to make it to this level and beyond, it can be an inspiration for others coming up and it adds character to the dojo to have higher level ranks int eh student body.
Life is about learning and it never stops. In this drive-thru, take-out & delivery lifestyle, to take the time in the art is a real achievement and one learns over time you don't just train for yourself. The dojo is the way place of enlightenment where you can find yourself while working with others and everyone lifts everyone up to the next level and beyond. A place of growth that never stops; this is how it was meant to be and so it is, the way of budo.
~Sensei W. M. Platt