Curricula - Testing Procedures



A student is never allowed to decide when they are ready to test for rank. This is the sole privilege of the instructors or the head of the club. Many factors are taken into consideration when these decisions are made; such as attitude, attendance percentages, physical skills, as well as individual personal considerations (please see Criteria for Promotional Evaluation).

1) One person will be assigned to be the test/party coordinator. That person's job is to delegate and oversee; they will be held accountable /responsible for the smooth running of the exam. The test is organized totally by students. Dan grades are only there to lend guidance; to be used as resources. The coordinator will use the Test/Party Outline Form. Students should volunteer their services as test and parties take considerable planning and time. The more people that assist - the less work everyone individually has to do! (This is another chance to show your appreciation!) All test fees should be paid in advance; be sure all written tests are completed at least one week prior to the test date.

2) Students should arrive at least 1/2 hour early to the test; dress out and begin stretching lightly. Arrive even earlier if you are assisting with set-up. Students must wear a clean WHITE pressed karate uniform and only white T-shirts (without markings underneath) if necessary. Avoid wearing more than one patch at testing; be sure it is the relevant one when you do. Students should assist in sweeping the floor (or mat), tidying the room, putting up the flags, setting up black belt panel tables and chairs or whatever else may need doing. Make sure belts are tied properly with both ends even. Gi should be donned left front panel over right side; tie strings. Gi pants must be hemmed and neat. Remember personal hygiene and basic etiquette. All students dress out even if they are not testing as they may be needed to assist someone who is.

3) Try to remain calm before the test. A little nervousness is welcome and can aid performance. Too much anxiety will impair your performance and memory. Be prepared; be sure to have already rehearsed and practiced test techniques adequately before test day. It is too late to learn anything the day of the test. Practice self-control. Cramming for a martial arts skills exam is useless.

4) On one side of the room a table will be set up with a table cloth and chairs with appropriate paper work (and pens) for the Dan ranks. The flags should be hung overhead if appropriate.

5) BLACK BELT PANEL: The black belts are there to watch the students and make recommendations to the senior instructor. They are mainly there to give students feedback. Do not be intimidated by the panel, they are there to help you. They will, of course, display a very serious attitude as testing is taken very seriously.

6) Bowing procedures when dan(s) enter the dojo is different than in your regular classes. The only person bowed into the dojo is the person leading the exam (usually Todd Jones), unless you are given a new directive by the senior dan at the test.

7) The test will begin with the usual bowing ceremony, then students will be asked to sit on the sides. Move quickly, but do not turn your back to the panel. Sit properly with good posture (seiza preferably, half or full lotus postures are also acceptable). Try to sit still and never show the bottoms of your feet to senior grades. If you must stretch a little (after having sat for a long time) do so inconspicuously and quickly. Do not talk; watch your fellow students test. You can learn a great deal from watching.

8) Students' names will be called when it is their turn to test. Stand quickly into ready stance and when attention is called, quickly line up in front of the black belt panel in the order your names were called. Six to ten people usually are called up at a time. Higher ranks may test in smaller groups. Space yourself evenly and center your group in front of the panel. Allow yourselves enough room to do technique and never get too close to the panel. Demonstrate composure and enthusiasm; maintain a serious attitude. Do your best! Bow to the panel before and after (bow will be called). * If your name is not called and you know that you are testing, then quickly go to the most senior ranked student present under black belt rank and have them go find out what the problem is.

9) Techniques will be called. Anything you have learned up to this point is fair game. If you missed classes where techniques were taught - it is your problem/responsibility to find an instructor who will teach them to you. If you perform the wrong technique, at least do it to the best of your ability. Do not show mistakes or stop or express frustration on your face. That is unacceptable! If you are not testing and you are requested to be someone's partner, wait until you are summoned and be sure to bow to panel before joining your partner. Again, bow to panel before returning to the sidelines.

10) Tests may cover floor-exercises, kata, mat work, sparring, and board breaking. Be sure to know the planned schedule ahead of time. If for some good reason you may have to miss part or all of the test, please talk to your instructor to see if some alternate time can be worked out for you. This should always be a last resort. The test is scheduled months in advance and one should plan their own schedule around the test if at all possible. Private tests should be avoided at all costs, they are not a pleasant experience.

11) Tests are divided into four categories: A) Promotional Ceremony, B) Test, C) Examination, and D) Private Tests.

Promotional Ceremonies are physically very brief, strictly activity to denote advancement. No one usually fails since instructor(s) screen students taking part. Psychologically, if not clearly expressed, students can become disenchanted (too easily). Screening for quality is critical.

Tests physically are moderately strenuous, "make it or break it" atmosphere - any shortcoming is grounds for failure. Rigidly adhered to guidelines are set ahead of time.

Examinations are physically as thorough as time permits; errors not so important as recovery. Students are carefully screened ahead of time.

Private tests . The physical level of these tests are determined by the instructor at the time of the test. Always nerve-wracking, always painful; to be avoided at all costs!!

12) Tests are conducted at a much harder pace than what students are probably accustomed to in regular class. Be sure to improve your endurance before tests as you will need it (you are encouraged to swim, run, do aerobics, push-ups, sit-ups, concentration kicks, attend classes and ride bikes). You should review rank requirements thoroughly and be sure you know what is expected of you. Remember that tests not only evaluate physical skills, but also evaluate attitude, spirit, enthusiasm, effort, intensity, composure, perseverance, etc. Learn to enjoy tests. They can be fun, if you decide to make them that way. Consider testing a challenge and a chance to show off one's skills. Develop an attitude that says "Go ahead, throw out whatever technique you want! I'm ready, I can take it!!" Don't expect every technique to come out perfect. Remember to BREATHE!! Overcome the test, the challenge. Never quit during a test; this is the worst thing one can do. To quit trying in a real self-defense situation will result in death. Persevere even if feeling sick. Serious injuries are the only exception to stopping before completion. An examiner will always vie in favor of tending to a serious injury.

13) After the test is completed, the whole group will be bowed out. After dismissal, students should be sure to personally thank the black belts who participated on the panel for their time and effort on the student's behalf. Also they should thank their individual instructors. Don't forget to take time to congratulate fellow students and give them a pat on the back too.

14) Results of the test will usually be announced at the test or at a Belt Celebration (party) the evening of the exam. Be sure to find out the time and place (secure a map if available) before leaving the test site. The examiners panel will all meet and discuss the day's events. Each student's instructor will fill out a recommendation sheet to provide feedback based more on each student's everyday performance. The senior instructor will have the ultimate decision on your actual promotion after considering everyone's input.

15) "Belt Celebration" - Enjoy and relax; but don't neglect to show due respect to seniors. Parties are basically informal but don't overstep. Refer to all instructors (regardless of color grade) as Mr. or Ms. _____ at all informal events (unless they specifically demand otherwise). If rank is conferred at the Celebration, when everyone has arrived, people will be asked to sit and be quiet. Promotions will be announced one by one with brief comments. Each student promoted will receive a certificate and belt (if appropriate: some promotions only require a new stripe). If a student cannot attend, they should either have someone accept their belt for them or arrange to receive it at a later time. Show initiative to secure your promotional certificate/belt. Be sure, after all belts are handed out, to seek out instructors and get more feedback. They will be happy to talk about it. Students may be provided the comment sheets filled out by the panel to review along with any written tests. These must be returned before leaving the party site. Take time to try on your new belt to make sure it is the correct size (you may be able to exchange it right away).

16) Avoid discussing other people's promotions. Be happy for each other (compassionate to those who may not pass) and remember to trust the Instructor's decision. Keep your limited perspective to yourself. Many factors, invisible to the average student, are considered by instructors prior to any rank advancements. Gear up for a new semester of training. From the time one receives a promotion, they are expected to wear that rank proudly and with honor. Students promoted to the same rank at the same time, regardless of previous rank, become equal in rank. If one is promoted to a certain grade (for example 6th kyu) and there are other 6th kyu students promoted earlier, then those promoted earlier are regarded as higher ranked. The time that rank is received determines the hierarchy. Therefore any students of the same grade, promoted earlier than others of the same grade shall line up to the junior student's right for bowing ceremonies.

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