Merry Monday – Nerves

What happens when you let your nerves get the best of you? 

My weekend didn’t go the way I had hoped. I choked like a Maple Leaf during the playoffs and failed my grading. Considering that I felt like I did my worst example of iaido, I agree that I shouldn’t have passed. That doesn’t mean I’m not upset. I’m pretty damn sad about it.

What happened?

Leading up to grading I:

  • I caught my big toe on a computer cable, which tripped me and hurt my toe.
  • Weeks of fighting with acne as if I’m a damn teenager.
  • I dropped a plate into my sink, which broke itself and a bowl.
  • I cut my finger with a steak knife.
  • I got very little sleep the day before travelling.
  • I had car troubles.
  • I forgot to put my chicken bacon in the fridge at my friend’s place, so breakfast was different than planned.
  • I got lost in the building more than once. I should’ve read the signs better.

Pre-Grading Seminar

  • On nearly every kata they gave us corrections and I felt overwhelmed.
  • I was super tense.


  • While in line, my feet began to fall asleep. Also, I really had to go to the washroom, despite having gone several times before.
  • I was also crampy, because Mother Nature always loves to time her visits around iaido events for me. TMI, I know.
  • My big toe was quite sore.
  • My mind became jumbled up due to the corrections I received and I felt confused and unsure of myself. I couldn’t do basic things properly anymore and kata 1 looked like hell as a result.
  • I had pants issues on the second kata.
  • It also looks like I rushed through the rest.

After Grading

  • I was pretty sure I had failed. I didn’t feel like I had done my best.
  • As I searched for my number, I was initially confused when I didn’t see it because I didn’t really want to believe I had failed. Who does?
  • There were tears.
  • Lots of hugs from friends, some of who disagreed with the result, were helpful. I love you guys for having my back! Sorry for the above jab at your hockey team 😉
  • Then there was a light drowning of the sorrows and TV watching.

    What’s Next?

    • Keiko, keiko, keiko (practice)
    • Core strengthening
    • Posture work
    • Learning to deal with sport performance anxiety


    I find it funny that I can get so nervous in grading while being able to stay calm in real danger-filled situations. If anyone has tips for not turning into a shaking meat sack, please share them.

    I think in the future it would be good for me to avoid the pre-grading seminar. There was so much thrown at us that it shook my confidence and I got confused. I think this will help with my nerves. I feel like it’s far better to have a good breakfast and be well rested.

    Had I performed how I’ve been in class lately, I would’ve passed. I just didn’t have it during those 6 minutes. 

    There haven’t been a lot of times in life where I’ve failed at something. One math test in high school and the first time I went for my G license are the only things I can think of. It always feels better to pass, of course, but failure teaches much more. Some of the most successful people have failed along the way. I think it’s important to keep trying. One doesn’t succeed by giving up. This is where my stubbornness is an asset. 

    Failing feels pretty awful, but it’s not the end of the world. And it won’t be the end of me. My spirit is a little bruised, but I don’t break easy.

    In fact, I love iaido, in part, because of how much it challenges me. I’ve not typically been a detail oriented person. I’m more of a big picture type. Iaido forces me to improve in other areas. 

    My posture still needs work, and so do a few other things. I have lots of time to fix things before the next time.

    Plus, it’ll be good to know how to use a sword in case of a zombie apocalypse 😉



    3 thoughts on “Merry Monday – Nerves

    1. The friend I mentioned said he might skip the seminar next time also, but I am glad I went to it. If nothing else, it gave me a chance to warm up, to settle in to being there, that sort of thing.

      Maybe next time you could do it, and do what other folks at the seminars do, and after they’re done go and write down notes of what you learned from it. By that time you’ll know what waza you need to do for grading, so you can forget everything but a few points of what you need to know for the waza you’re doing, or forget that even, and just do as you had been doing in class. You said yourself that if you’d done as you’d been doing, things might have gone better. So do the seminar, and just think of it as practice time.

      I only did the first run through of the waza during all that, and sat the second run-through out. You could do that also, if there’s time, and take that time to make notes or calm down and relax.

      And just think, next time you go test for Nidan, you’ll be so good it’ll blow their minds. 🙂

      I never had a life where I had dedicated myself to anything. We had no money for extras, and my grandparents were just not driven people. So dedication outside of what was necessary for school, just wasn’t a thing. It was not until I discovered art that I found a passion, and I was an adult when that happened. I thought, because of that lack of dedication, that when I graded I’d hit some kind of plateau and become bored and stop. But all I want to do is get back into the dojo and do better. I cannot see my life now, without Iaido. I remember the first time I picked up an iaito, it was similar to how I feel picking up a paintbrush sometimes, “Why hasn’t this been in my hand my entire life?”

      Keep your eyes peeled for gradings elsewhere. There might be something you can do before next year’s eastern grading here.


      • There are often other opportunities during the year to grade.

        Iaido is about knowing oneself. I know the pre-grading seminar is not helpful for me. The tips I received months ago were, but not the day of. In the past, I didn’t go to that seminar and I just showed up, practiced before, and did my iai.

        I’ve been to most other seminars in Ontario and Quebec this year and rarely missed classes. Dedication had nothing to do with it.

        Iaido is part of who I am.


        • That’s precisely what my sensei said to me the first class after grading, when I told him that I couldn’t see my life without it – that it becomes a way of life.

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