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  • Writer's picturePSBN David

Testing 1-2-3: What to expect in a Martial Arts Testing

With a number of new students recently joined up, and “Testing Nerves” following everyone all the way up through the rank, this feels particularly relevant to give some tips on testing!

For those of you who just recently tested and are seeing this after the fact, you’re correct: this IS a bit of a slap in the face, isn’t it?

Anyways, onto the tips!


You’re supposed to feel nervous

There’s a reason why Testings aren’t just included in a regular class! You’re in a group with the other students testing, yes, but it’s still YOUR testing. You’ll be in the spotlight; you won’t be able to ask for hints and reminders.

You have to show that YOU deserve your next belt, not the people you’re asking for help from.


Most of the time, you won’t feel fully ready

If your instructors have invited you to test, it’s because they know you’re ready for it. We see you every class and know where your skills are at.

When you’re feeling like you’re not ready, remember that your instructors who have been watching and teaching you DO think you’re ready. You’ll just have to have some faith that their judgement of you is more accurate than your own!

Except if you travel for a Testing and you’re being tested by another instructor.

In that case, you end up going 110% and blowing it out of the water because you’re now representing your school. Alternatively, you may be hooped.

One of the two!


Yes, you’ll probably forget some things

This ties into not feeling ready! Testings are not like a regular class; they’re much more formal. This often throws a lot of students off their game. In class, the atmosphere is more relaxed. You know you have a safety net in case you forget something: just asking someone. But you don’t get that in a Testing, so it’s a bit more nerve-wracking.

Even if it’s not nerves, you’ll often find that the higher up you go, the more techniques there are that could slip your mind.

Techniques can get mixed up, a couple get forgotten, you miss a step in a form and you’re suddenly backwards. It’ll all happen at least once!

And this is totally normal.


A huge part of Testing is your Martial Spirit

Testings will take a long time and be both mentally and physically demanding. You’ll feel nervous, might forget some things along the way, be exhausted and not able to perform as well as you know you can. All sorts of things.

But you show up and do it anyways.

You show up and do the best you can. This isn’t a competition against anyone else in the class, just against yourself.

Take someone who’s incredibly fit, young, agile, nails every technique, not a drop of sweat on them, and they smell vaguely of fresh cinnamon buns. Now compare them to the middle-aged, slightly overweight, not-so-flexible anymore student who’s gasping for air and dripping in sweat.

The latter is the one with the great Martial Spirit. Pushing yourself hard to get past your limits, doing your absolute best the whole way through, and keeping up! If you’re not even sweating, you’re not doing your best!


Practice everything you know, even if you're told you won’t be tested on it.

In fact, ESPECIALLY if your instructor tells you that you won’t be tested on it. It’s also likely to be thrown at you right at the end, when you see the light at the end of the tunnel.


Well mainly because it’s funny to see the look of horror on the student’s face as they go through the stages of grief in about two seconds.

But it’s also part of the testing to throw something unexpected at you to see how you handle it. This ties again into your Martial Spirit! The test here is to see how you struggle through something you didn’t see coming. It may even be something entirely new that you haven’t done before. But the point is that you try your best!


Testing is a kind of training

When students have a testing looming in the distance, it changes the mindset in their training a bit. Now it’s making sure techniques work, focusing on the little details, smoothing out motions.

You might also have taken to relying on others when you get stuck remember a particular technique. Knowing that you can’t ask for help on this in a testing is also a big motivator to making sure you’re not using anyone else as a crutch for your memory. If every time you get stuck, you wait until someone gives you the answer, that’s just training your brain to reward not remembering.


So, class, what have we learned today?

  • Yes, Testing is supposed to be hard

  • Try your best the whole way through, show off your Martial Spirit

And most important of all:

Listen to your instructors when they tell you KJN is tricking you by telling you what you’ll be tested on! You know how many times he got US with that same line?!


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