Friday, June 3, 2011

Things to Avoid at Black Belt Testing

The dojo has two students preparing for dan rank testing in July.  During the weeks leading up to black belt testing, I am always asked questions about my testing experiences.  I have shared advice on this blog about Preparing for Black Belt Testing.  Today, I am going to recommend some things to avoid. :)

1.  Ocular Migraine:  A few hours before formal testing, I got an ocular migraine.  I was seeing flashes of lights and stars.  I went home to rest for an hour.  I honestly did not think I would even be able to drive back to the testing site. Luckily, the migraine subsided and I was able to test.  To this day, it was my first and only ocular migraine. 

2.  Bunkai partner MIA.  It was my turn to demonstrate open hand bunkai.  My partner and I practiced for weeks.  I looked around the room for my bunkai partner and she was no where to be found.  She was in the bathroom!  I did not want to make the testing board wait so I asked another person to work with me from the crowd. I will always be grateful to my replacement bunkai partner.  :)

3.  Scheduling surgery.   After my daughter was born I was diagnosed with gall stones.  Surgery was recommended but there was no hurry.  A few weeks later I was told that I would be testing in a few months.  I scheduled surgery two days after testing.  :)

4. Short preparation time.  Keep training and practicing.  You never know when you will get testing notice.  I have had anywhere from a year to 5 weeks notice.

5.  For female readers only...Does black belt testing always coincide at the worst time?  Seriously...

The above list is from my personal testing experience.  The good news....despite all the unplanned things that happened...I made it through each of my tests. 

I am sure you have more suggestions. Please add to the list!

Best of luck to all those preparing for testing!  To the students in our dojo preparing for Nidan and Sandan...keep up the good work!


Noah said...

I'm probably not going to be testing for shodan until next year (or later--I haven't been given a date or anything), but I'm still trying to work on the requirements. I'll have to keep these sort of things in mind when I finally do get my testing date :P

Charles James said...

It seems a shame that it falls down to practicing to requirements in lieu of just practicing to be a black belt but then that is me and I achieved yu-dan-sha long before this period of time ;-)

Dedicate the time to achieving a solid proficiency in martial arts and the requirements will be there when you need them is my philosophy :-)

Michele said...

Noah: Thanks for commenting!

Charles James: I agree...with practice the requirements will be there when you need them whether it be for a test or self-protection.

I know my perspective has changed over the years since I tested for Shodan (1996). Initially it was about earning the black belt. Over is simply about the training. It took time to get to that place in my training.

Thank you for commenting!

SenseiMattKlein said...

Congratulations Michele! As I tell my students, a great martial artist is always ready, and will find a way to improvise past any obstacle to success. Well done.

As for the "women only" part, we can't relate, but can feel for you as many of us have had injuries or other situations that prevented us from performing at our best. It is frustrating when mother nature gets in the way. She does not consider your plans in hers.

Shodan said...

Nice list Michele! I myself am gearing up for my Shodan grading this year (no date yet set) so things like these are fun to read.

I've seen bunkai groups fall apart before the grading due to various reasons, some have quit the gym, others have plans change and can't make it on that night, others are unreliable training partners. I'm not looking forward to starting that part of my training - I just hope they will take it as seriously as I am - after all - they'll be next on the list so what goes around comes around... :)

Michele said...

Sensei Klein: Thanks! So true about injuries. I watched one man test for rank in kobudo with a burn on his hand he sustained at work.

1st Kyu: Thanks for visiting! I know what you mean about bunkai groups. Except for the one bunkai partner incident, I have been fortunate. :)