That's right - I'm now a Sandan, after 6 years of kendo!
It was a lot easier than I thought. Partly thanks to Pik and Amy, similar age as mine and both girls from my dojo, were my lucky grading partner. It's relieving enough to know before hand who I was going to have my tachiai with - at least all 3 of us do great kendo, and can put up a good show in front of the grading panel.
As far as I can remember, I "scored" at least a de-gote and a few good ai-men (debana-men). Someone said I did my exam like a shiai. That might be right too, as the same mindset had got the best out of me. But then I notice that whenever I got the ai-men, my body is going off to the right side. Obviously my body is still not going straight and forward enough, even that my speed gave an advantage. Besides, my failed attempts of de-gote has rewarded my partners with kote-men opportunities, and that's probably because I was not cutting forward enough on those occasions.
My (or our) kata sucked. But hey, nobody is perfect! Again I'm in the first pair in front of the panel. It's not easy to spot that my pair's bad sense of maai, adding to my rather obvious mistake at #2. Oh well, they let us through this time, and perhaps getting a more regular kata practice could be a better option...uhmm..
Overall the whole grading has relatively high level of kendo - I rarely spot those I thought would fail, and indeed in the end in every grade only 1-2 people didn't get through the tachiai part. Some of them were, comparatively, too negative about the match, lacking energy and spirit, and failed show successful or even attempt attack.
It's been the best grading experience so far (after [UK] Sumi's seminar grading, Glascow WKC grading and London [Mumeishi] Autumn grading), and let's forget about 4th Dan before I feel like it. This exam is enjoyable, and I was confident in passing, despite that everyone has to arrive at 8am and we are not allow to practice kata or anything but "watch"... If people pass, they probably deserve it - especially when they worked hard for it!
Our sensei seems to be the person most excited and overjoyed, after spending the pass few months getting the 7 of us ready for this grading, and seeing our surprising performance on the day. Other sensei on the grading panel had only said positive comments about our dojo members. Someone even pointed out that now our dojo has the highest 3rd Dan population in Hong Kong!
The next step is probably to find out what's next. After a few months at full-time work, I notice how kendo helps clearing my mind in the week, and in general regulates my life. I no longer see it as a waste-of-time-better-do-something-more-constructive activity. Hope that my schedule with work and upcoming classes, I can manage to get the practice I need, and enjoy the training along the way.