I haven't posted in a while, being busy with my day job, but just a few notes.
We have one candidate testing for his Battodo shodan under the Kodenkan and Ryuseikan this month: Reed Wittman. We usually split the test across two days because of venue. The first part is the cutting and individual kata tests with a shinken which we normally conduct outdoors. We videotape this portion to send to our Soke in Japan. The second part is testing of all katas individual and with a partner, wazas and all their knowledge at that level. This is conducted by the instructor and performed by the student before a panel of a number of Shihans from the Kodenkan.
Reed has been a consistent student for about 4 years and now is sempai in the high school class. He helps me teach the younger and newer students ranging from 12-18 which can be quite challenging. He will be graduating high-school fairly soon as well, and going off to college, so we also wish him the best of luck in his future.
As we tell our students, we only test students that we think can perform at that level already. A shodan rank is also a beginning, not an end. There is so much more they can learn. But, it does mark their proficiency across a significant level of progress and ready to work on the harder skills that require deeper practice and commitment. In my view, after a certain level of practice you may realize that higher ranks are not as important as the skills you gain, and how contribute to encourage the martial arts.