The grading panel are under no obligation to give advice to candidates, nor to report their reason for failing them. It is for their sensei/dojo leader to continue to push them to improve and hope for the best next time.I had always wondered about this and, I realize now, haven't spent enough time actually thinking about why this is. A reply to this remark asks how the student, or his/her sensei, is supposed to know what needs to be worked on if no feedback is given?
The response by Peter West Sensei (Renshi 7 Dan):
If your teacher doesn't know what you need in order to improve, you're with the wrong teacher. Your teacher is the only person (apart from yourself) responsible for what you learn and how you learn it.Makes sense to me =)
When you present for grading you present to an independent group who assess your progress and tell you whether you have or have not achieved the mark. That is your only feedback. You then go back to your dojo and work some more with your teacher, who should know what your weak points are, if he is to justify his position in the dojo.
The grading panel are not your teachers. This, after all, is budo, not 6th form college and summer school.
[Additions] Further expanding on this topic from Kim Taylor Sensei (Renshi 7 Dan)
Students tend to want to know "what I need to do to pass next time" not "how can I improve my iaido". If you failed a test, look to your sensei. It's his job to know what the panel is looking for, if he's not at every seminar and if he can't repeat what's in the standards without going and looking it up, he's not serious about you passing and so neither should you be worried about not passing.
You have five or six judges up there, they do NOT discuss results with each other (or at least they are not supposed to) and so you have an answer from a panel who mostly are not your teachers but are seniors in the organization.
If you don't want to accept their judgment on you, why are you in front of them? Seriously?
Gradings are taken entirely too lightly, and....
Gradings are taken entirely too seriously.