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Godan test (Sakki test)

This year has brought confusion about Sakki test among the students and teachers. The reason for of it was that some of the teachers asked Sóke for the permission to perform Sakki test at their seminars. Recently, Mark Lightgow has written an article on facebook in which he describes his feelings and his conversation with Sóke on current situation with Sakki test. I could not resist writing something in reaction to it. I meet with this personally and do not agree with it, even though I understand it and know that I cannot hinder the development and I cannot do anything about it. At least I can express my feelings and opinions about it and so reflect the era and maybe appeal to someone.

During the last years Sóke permitted performing  Sakki test outside of Japan to help the students who cannot come to Japan. This year there have been more and more requests for this examination, mainly at those seminars, which have lately been called TAIKAI. That is the first thing, which I cannot agree with, and I feel that I must write here the reason why. The word TAIKAI means simply meeting but this word was usually used by Sóke for the seminars held outside of Japan. I think that the seminar can be called in different ways. I myself wanted a name for the international seminar, which I organized in my country, and so I asked Sóke for a name. Sóke gave me a name which was poignant and unique, and which I myself then felt as a constant connection with Sóke. And it neither copied nor confused anyone.

But let us return to Sakki test. I borrowed the money needed for my firs trips to Japan from usurers, because the banks did not want to lend me. And believe me, paying back was not easy at all. Later, when things started going better, I borrowed from banks. And even today, after twenty years, when I am not doing particularly well, I have to help myself with the credit card so that I can live and study in Japan for a few months. And then when I return I do my best to pay back, study and get back to Sóke. I ask: do not the students really have the opportunity to visit Sóke in Japan? I have already seen one of such Godan tests held outside of Japan. And because I am a 15th Dan too, naturally, I was drawn into the whole situation, which evolved how it did. The students who had come to take the examination did not look that they did not have enough money for a trip to Japan. They were strong enough and had enough money to take part in the seminar where the 5th Dan examination was held. The whole thing surprised me unpleasantly enough. Initially, I thought that the examination would be held for the purpose of helping the country where it was taking place. I understood it in this way from a conversation to which I was invited. But very soon I was escorted from the error. Those who were from the host country refused taking it, and the whole examination was taken by two foreign students. Nevertheless, I think that no one is to be blamed, they only took advantage of a situation which was prepared by the 15th Dan teachers. Is all this really for the sake of of helping younger students or for the sake of someone's personal popularity to keep one's position? Mark could see the same or similar problem and confusion of the people, and so he asked Sóke personally. But Sóke answered how he always does. The thing is what we want to hear. Sóke observes and knows that it is impossible to hinder the development. And so he gradually lets it go. He gives us only what we ask for. I am afraid that we ourselves change the future, irrespective of to wait for the right time.

I took Godan test only after several refusals or so-called silent non-participation, even though it was on Sóke's request.  I told Sóke that I had much time ahead of me and that it was important for me to continue studying. When my time came even my Buyu friends, who were senior students and Shidoshi, could feel it and they sent me to take the examination. I went to take it, and I was decided either to die or survive. In other words, either I was already good enough or I was not mature enough for taking it, and I was bad. I would feel ashamed with myself up to this day if the test had been somehow suspicious, regardless of whether I had passed or not. It would be my failure and it would only show that I had yet much time ahead of me and I had to keep studying. But as I have seen Godan test during the last several years, I am afraid that people lose respect. Many of them come to Japan, and on the very first day, out of their own accord, they ask for permission to take the examination. Actually, they have to do it in this way, because they come only for a few days and if they are not successful, they have only two or three trainings to succeed and return home as teachers. I have seen students who came without respect and with a chewing gum in their mouths, clicking their tongues like horses. Some of them tried to tell jokes to make all the present people laugh. What is important for such people, the examination or the position of an official teacher?  I say the latter is important for them, but there are different opinions on this. I am horrified by that I have met people coming to take Godan test after having received 4th Dan from a Bujinkan teacher, but the previous certificates and grades were never from a Bujinkan teacher and it could not be demonstrated that they were genuine. I have frequently seen false certificates. There was very often no way to ascertain that many of such students had gotten 4th Dan. Interestingly enough, the 4th Dan certificate is required from those who study hard and honestly. To make myself clearly understood  -  it is not about Sóke. The problem comes from the teachers who recommend these people. I say people because I cannot call them students.


Sóke continues teaching strictly and honestly each of us personally. His Budó and way are right. At least, I myself have been convinced about that since the very first moment I met Sóke. But what we{I} meet is not Sóke's Budó. It is only what we ourselves want. And Sóke gives what we ask and want. For that reason we should always think well over whether Sóke´s yes´s and no’s are well understood. I believe that when such students come to ask me for the examination, and when I pick up Shinai instead of Boken, they will think twice whether they really want…..

As far as I myself am concerned, I have always been afraid of violating Soke´s rules and of causing even the slightest doubt about my way of good student. Long time ago, on our way to a joint lunch, Sóke told me: Pokorny san, please, teach in the world! And since then, I started travelling and teaching all around the world. That was the beginning of my seminars outside of my country. As for Sakki test, if Sóke tells me to perform Sakki tests then I will teach according to it. But till that moment I am not going to want or ask for anything and change things for which I am not worthy to ask, because my time of study has not yet come to its end.


These are my feelings and ideas which I wrote here without any intention to restrain or give umbrage to anyone.

Lubos Pokorny

15th Dan Bujinkan Hombu

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