I’m going back to soroban school! My soroban teacher is all excited about me passing the test next time in January, so he said he wants me to come back to get the final polish.

With the last test I passed all but two of the exam types (okay, except *anzan* – mental math, but that’s no surprise). So, for the next test in January, I only need to focus on divisions and additions; if I get at least 100 points (i.e., 10 correct exercises), I will have passed the shodan exam, just as I had planned. For both divisions and additions, I am hovering around 80 – 90 points, which is a good starting point. However, I make too many avoidable mistakes, so I have to put in extra effort here, both to increase accuracy, and to increase speed.

I went to class today, and my sensei said something very interesting: When I do the math, I speak the equations in my mind, for example *“6 times 3 is 18”* (in German, of course), and afterwards I set the appropriate numbers on the soroban. My sensei watched me and said that I seem to stop between two such equations, which means I’m stopping on the soroban as well. This interruption of the smooth flow of the hand movement may introduce extra mistakes, he said.

Solution: I should slow down, just enough to speak the equation and set the beads on the soroban at the same time. This will lead to a smooth, almost continuous flow of the movements of the hand – which in turn will increase speed, and maybe even accuracy. It does sound a bit weird at first, but if you think about it, it makes sense. I will try to do this for a couple of weeks and see where this is going.

Besides that, it seems that by now I know the book by heart – I make very few mistakes when doing the basic exercises that can be done in the seven minutes’ time frame, but beyond that I make more mistakes. According to my sensei, this is not just because the numbers are getting longer, so to get a better training experience, I should now start with exercise number 11 instead of the beginning.

I’m sure he has a point there – in both respects. I am really eager to finally pass the shodan exam, so I’ll do as he suggests. Wish me luck!