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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Belt Promotion, Philosophy » How do you prepare for a karate test?

How do you prepare for a karate test?

For many, martial arts isn’t about rank, but knowledge. However, rank is still important, at the very least in showing personal progress. In some instances it reflects a trial by fire and perseverance. Marking the advancement is often done through a belt test.

Practice, Study, and Relax in preparation for your belt test.

Practice, Study, and Relax in preparation for your belt test.

As you progress, eventually you’ll have a karate test coming up. Perhaps in a week, perhaps in a couple of months. But you know it’s coming. How do you prepare?

Practice – Attending class in order to be introduced to and learn the material is key. But often there isn’t enough time in class to get in all the repetitions necessary to develop an instinctual nature with the moves. Practice outside of class is critical. It’s the Kenpo homework.

Drilling the techniques and forms takes time. Therefore practice outside of class should begin well before test time. Ideally it should begin once new material is introduced, and homework should become a regular part of your weekly schedule. That can’t always happen though. As test day approaches more practice time may have to be forced into your free time. As practice begins, you should focus on the flow of the techniques and movements first. Once you’re comfortable in the flow, begin training with a partner to work on body manipulation. (Parents can be great training partners for kids.) As in traditional school, a homework partner can make a huge difference.

Study – Knowing how to perform your martial art is the surface of learning. Knowing why the technique works the way it does shows the depth of knowledge. The nuance between how and why requires study beyond drill repetition. Thought, reading, video studying, listening to elders, and technique experimentation are all necessary to study your art. Will you be asked questions of this depth at a belt test? It would depend on your own organization and who’s administering the exam. But knowing the answers is more than just for the test. It’s for your growth as a martial artist and requires diligence off the mat. Also well in advance of test day.

Relax – Finally, the last piece of the puzzle in preparation for the belt test is to relax. A small case of the stomach butterflies is fine. It represents the significance of the event to you. However, being stricken with panic or overcome with nervous fear will likely result in a poor showing. Understand at some point you will know only what you know. Further cramming and worrying will hinder your ability to show how well you know. If you truly feel unprepared, request out of the exam. Otherwise take a deep breath and find a way to enjoy the moment. You likely have worked very hard to get there. If so, muscle memory and instinct will be an ally.

The martial arts journey can have belt ranks as mile markers along the way. Earning those markers can be an anxious but extremely rewarding time. Relax. Put in the necessary time practicing and studying what you’ve learned. Then when you’re standing in front of the instructor (or board) have faith you’re as prepared as you can be.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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