In my years here in Japan I must have seen several thousand 5th dan tests.
Recently, there has developed a general opinion amongst a few members of the Honbu that the quality of this test has dwindled. This is not the case with everyone, but I fear that I have been witness to too much of the lack of basics in people who are taking this test. This is either due to the devaluation of this rank, or the lack of Shidoshi or Shihan preparing students for this test. Ultimately, the ability to pass the test is up to the individual, and really, this test can passed by someone with little or no training with the right strike of good luck. But, we are studying Budo here and need to be solid in our basics so that we do not cheat ourselves in our endless pursuit of the martial arts. A godan candidate, being a 4th dan, should have an exceptional understanding and internalization of the proper dynamics of distance. Unfortunately, it seems that more often than not, many people do not and sit for the test in a very incorrect distance. Proper distance must be determined and calculated, and if you are causing the cutter of the test to adjust the distance, then in MHO you should not be taking this test in the first place. Lately, Soke has been having 15th dans give the test. This has been an interesting experience as well. This test (as Soke has said many times) is not about the test giver, nor about the taker. It is nothing. I fear to say that it seems that some test givers have never picked up a sword. But maybe this does not matter.
If you are sitting the test-please don’t cheat yourself. Make sure you are ready. This is the responsibility of you and your Shidoshi/Shihan.