We have a group of 1st kyu students in the dojo preparing for shodan. The test is in two parts. There is a comprehensive in-house black belt test which includes kata, weapons, basics, self-defense, combinations, sparring, ground fighting and bunkai. This test is performed over three weeks and takes 25-40 hours. If the candidate is approved, they must test formally in front of the Federation President and advisory board.
The testing dates are fast approaching. Here are a few of my recommendations for the 1st kyu students.
1. Enjoy. This time in your karate journey should be special. Enjoy the training.
2. Have confidence in your training. Remember that you have been practicing for this test for several years. When questions are asked or kata are to be demonstrated, your training is your resource.
3. Continue to practice your basics. My husband will tell every testing group the same story. When he was training for shodan, he made sure to attend a beginner class each week to work on the basics.
4. You will make mistakes. It happens to everyone. You will be judged on how you manage them. Once a student who made a mistake during in-house black belt testing walked off the dojo floor and went home. Nothing was said...she simply went home. Work through your mistakes.
5. Avoid the "deal breakers" - poor basics, poor weapon handling, non-functional bunkai. Sorry about this...I had to state the obvious.
6. You cannot cram for a martial arts test.
7. You are what you train. You will reap the reward of your effort during testing.
8. Expect the unexpected. During my last test, I felt certain I would not have to perform an individual kama kata. Well...I did!
9. Try to stay calm. Easier to say than to do. Three hours before one test, I had an ocular migraine complete with flashes of light, spots and stars.