Nothing can be more nerve racking to a Martial Artist than knowing that you are grading for your next belt. Whether it is a first grading or for your black belt grading, the feeling is the same. Here are some things you can do to help prepare you for your grading.
(Note: The following suggestions apply to our Black Belt testing/grading but most can pertain to NEMA Dojo's regular monthly belt and stripe testing as well!)
1. Know exactly what is required of you to know in order to grade. This means, what basics, katas, self defense techniques, sparring and any other things needed that you will be asked to perform. For Kyu belts (all belts under black), most students have criteria that need to be met and in some cases this includes some philosophy and historical facts about your art that you study. When grading for Black Belt and any Dan (degrees after the first degree), there is usually a written component that may be required as well as the technical stuff. Know every detail of what is needed from you.
2. If you have been given notice far in advance of the grading date, make sure you step your game up in your training, Do not miss any classes and take extra ones to help review your techniques.
3. Ask your Sensei and senior students of your dojo for any pointers or suggestions that they can give you that will help you perform at your best during your grading.
4. Set up some private lessons at your dojo with your Sensei or senior belt. Private lessons are a great way to help figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are. This also gives you the opportunity to work out any weakness and help you to gain confidence in areas you need.
5. Work on your endurance. Training cardio is a great way to help stay in shape and prepare for your grading. If timed sparring is part of your grading, then make sure you train the required time limit PRIOR to your grading so you know you have done it.
6. Practice your katas (forms, patterns) all back to back from lowest to highest. This is usually asked of you during a grading. It is a great way to train memory of movements, as well as endurance.
7. Grab fellow students that may be grading with you and practice in front of each other. Give positive feedback and help each other in any way you can.
8. Prepare your Uniform, making sure it is freshly washed, ironed, all crests/badges are sewn on properly. Make sure all of your safety gear is in good working condition and that you have all required pieces needed. If weapons are part of your grading requirement, make sure you have the weapon that is needed and that it too is in good working order.
9. The day before your grading do not practice too much. Take this as a day of rest. Be confident that all your preparation up to this point will see you through your grading. Prepare your mind too. Stay calm and be confident in your ability. YOU GOT THIS!
10. On grading day make sure you eat healthy, not too much and stay hydrated during grading. Show up early during grading, this gives you time to change, stretch, and warm yourself up for your grading. Remember do your best. Everyone running the grading knows exactly what you are going through and have been there themselves. So relax and enjoy the process. This is your time to shine and demonstrate all that you can do.
Remember belt gradings are an important part of your martial arts training. Rank serves as a guide to see our progress. However, its the small victories along the way that count the most. Things like overcoming nerves, pushing past physical and mental barriers, learning and perfecting a new technique, developing a winning attitude and perfection of character, that is what counts the most. Enjoy the journey and Good Luck!
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