Our school and the Kenpo sister schools we associate with are part of a pretty great Kenpo organization. Specifically when it comes to testing. It’s very rare to fail a test now. If your instructor doesn’t believe you’re ready, you aren’t even asked test.
Don’t confuse this with meaning the tests are easy or full of sunshine and rainbows. You’re tested alright, but on something deeper than just curriculum. Because tests occur so infrequently, they provide a great measuring stick to see how far your personal limit has increased since your last examination. Your limit is a combination of mental fortitude, stamina, and willingness to dig deep.
Students who hit the mat regularly, do their homework, and demonstrate the material in class are the ones who are invited to test. Instructors see students do the material every class. They know who has a solid grip on the techniques and forms long before test day. More than likely the students who have prepared well for class will also test well. But there are students who get the nervous jitters on test day, perhaps mess up a few things, but it shouldn’t preclude them from being able to advance. Everyone has a bad day now and again. However well a student performs the curriculum, you still want to test their limit. It’s something they may not even know about themselves.
This isn’t some secret Kenpo hazing ritual where the students are ridiculously beaten up. Rather it’s a situation where technique lines and sparring may be a little more intense, or there are more frequent sparring matches lasting longer to further test stamina. Our organization also likes to use sparring situations which aren’t often practiced as a way of pushing you to dig deep; such as defending the line, sparring multiple attackers, or even bull-in-the-ring.
How you hold up while your limit is being tested can show more about you than any belt color could.
One of the common reasons people walk down the martial arts path is to find out more about themselves and build self-confidence. Finding your limit in tests like these is a great mile marker to mark your progress. When you look back, you can easily see how far you’ve come. All the people I know who stuck with Kenpo for as long as they have wouldn’t have it any other way. How about you?