Martial Arts Belt Testing… Oh, Stress!
OK, so you’ve stuck with your karate training for a number of months already. You enjoy finding out all the ways to punch, kick, and block, you have actually learned your very first form “it’s low and hard” and you likewise know some basic partner drills.
Now! It’s time to test for your next belt. However, for some reason, it feels like a wave of fear and worry has suddenly come over you.
You know you must take a belt test to get the next belt and you wish to be successful, but unexpectedly your previous fear of public speaking seems insignificant compared to the possibility of showing your karate prowess in front of your Sifu “instructor” and fellow students.
Can I do it? Will I pass? How do you get past your worries and take the initial step to success and advance up the belt ladder?
If this sounds like something you’ve been through prior to or something that you are experiencing now then keep reading.
The anxiety of taking a karate test is a real one, but do not make the error of failing the test out of proportion. Remember this is simply a test and whether you pass or fail, it does not need to be the beginning or end of your martial arts journey. Let me offer you some simple pointers for handling the pressure and anxiety of your first belt test.
1: Put things into Respective
If you take a look at your improvement from white to black belt in karate as a journey, then your individual belt tests are just checkpoints or layovers.
These checkpoints give you an opportunity to see how far you have actually come, how far you still need to go, and to allow yourself the possibility of enjoyment that you’ve gotten this far. It’s really that easy.
Do not make your belt test harder than it is. No one will ask you how you did on your yellow belt test as soon as you get a black belt!
2: Ask your instructor exactly what you will be tested on
This is essential. You must understand exactly what you will be evaluated on. This again is like the old analogy of ‘if you do not know where you’re going, then how will you know the best ways to get there?’
Understanding exactly what the required material is for the next belt resembles purchasing a map and planning your route from one destination to the next.
3: Start getting ready for your test beforehand
This should go without stating, however, many individuals leave everything to the last minute when it concerns testing. Provide yourself the best chance possible by writing your test date on your calendar, discovering the requirements of the test (see # 2), and after that practicing the important things that you need to practice.
4: Get a good night’s sleep before your test and do something relaxing on test day
Once again, this is a no-brainer and is the same suggestion given to any student studying for any test. Karate tests are no different. So get a good night’s sleep and then read a book, go for a walk, listen to music, or pray.
Do whatever it takes to calm yourself down and help you to focus your mind. If you know ahead of time that you will need to work throughout the day or do something else that might be stressful on the day of your test, then prepare for that in advance and set aside 10 minutes after you complete work to sit silently and regroup before you go house and put on your karate uniform. Even 10 minutes of relaxation is much better than none when it comes to preparation.
5: Don’t take yourself too seriously
You are taking your yellow belt test (or your orange or your green …, or your black belt.) Whatever belt you are taking, I know it is important to you, you pass. If you didn’t wish to pass your belt then you would have no reason to take the test in the first place. What’s more, your instructor usually will have recommended that you are ready for the test.
This indicates that if you do your best and do what you execute in class, with the extra strength that features adrenaline, then you will more than most likely pass your test.
Do not develop any more unnecessary obstacles on your own. You satisfied the minimum time requirement, you understand the product to be tested, you have actually prepared ahead of time, you got a good night’s sleep, and your instructor thinks you have the ability to pass.
So don’t take yourself too seriously. Get your uniform on, tie your soon-to-be-old belt, and get to your karate school!
Lastly, execute the techniques at your own pace, do not worry about moving at the same speed as your fellow student (i.e.; stay in your own lane), and work within your skill level.