Rank testing is one of the biggest events in martial arts training. You get a chance to showcase your techniques and move up in rank on your journey to black belt and beyond. The time in between tests ranges from 2 months up to a few years for the higher ranks. (My next testing is next summer if all goes according to plan.) The test is where you get graded on what you have been learning since your last testing. It looks like a team event as we train together but it is an individual test. Unlike other sports your success isn’t tied to other team mates. Can it be a high pressure situation? Most certainly. Some people step it up and perform better at testing than they ever do in class while others struggles with nervousness at the big event. Here are some key things to consider and some insight into testing.
If you are testing you are physically ready! All students must show us the curriculum prior to getting permission to test. However that doesn’t guarantee that you will get everything correct at the actual event. Some amazing students mess up at testing from time to time. It is like studying for a school test at home, getting them all right repeatedly, then missing some when test time comes at school. It happens.
Plan ahead and arrive early. It is much easier to get into your testing mindset if you are not late or rushed. We prepare the students with a warm up and review prior to their test. If you are late you miss this important step that aids in your success. We want everyone to pass. That is why we pre-qualify everyone with their stripes.
This is where it all happens. You know the material or you wouldn’t be here. Go out there with confidence and give it 100% of you. You aren’t testing against anyone (it is extra awesome if you are the sharpest student out there on the floor).
Form keys-stances, accuracy of technique, power, tempo (not a race)
Sparring keys-hands up, use combinations not just single moves, use both sides of body not just your favorite leg, show a variety of techniques, use advanced expected for your experience level, keep moving (you will be tired don’t give in to the fatigue), block well, show offense and defense (it’s not a tournament it’s a test)
Board breaking keys-accuracy is key (focus on the middle of the board), don’t stop at the board always aim past the board, you get 3 attempts but try to break on your first as the pressure grows with each attempt, if the board is way high or low ask the board holder to adjust it (they are going to put it in the right spot 95% of the time but be ready to adjust)
Testing question keys-speak up, I’d rather hear a guess than for a student to shrug their shoulders in silence.
Celebrate the effort and accept the result. Pass or fail we are proud of everyone for the effort they put into getting to class and getting prepared for your test. Are you going to pass every test? It happens but most have a no change (not passing-not changing rank). Just like you can’t expect your favorite football team to win every game (I’m a Cowboys fan so I know this all too well) you can’t expect to pass every test. Just like pretty much every sport their can be setbacks or a loss. I rarely hear about kids quitting let’s say football because they had a bad game and they lost but it happens in martial arts. There is a lot to learn about yourself and your technique from failing a test. What area do I need more work on? Did I take it for granted that I would just go out there and pass? Did I demonstrate to my full ability?
Sometimes a no change is the best thing that ever happened to some students. They get more determined than ever to pass for that next belt. Some students have more no changes than others just like in life everyone is different. A no change doesn’t mean we don’t like you it means we see more potential in you than maybe you even see. We want to bring that potential to the surface. We would love for everyone to pass but we can’t control what they do at their testing and we can’t just promote someone because we like them. We like all our students. I love getting to teach you guys and see you progress and grow as students.
If you pass celebrate and encourage others that may not have passed. They may need a bit of encouragement over the first week or so. Also evaluate your testing. What would you like to do better next time?
Remember it’s all about progress not perfection. (Next blog post coming soon)