Wellingborough, GrangePark & Wollaston TaeKwon-Do

  • Black Belt Grading Advice

    Physical /Technical Preparation

    • TRAIN HARD! “In all of my black belt tests I have noticed one thing that helps more than anything is – cardio.”

    • The trick to black belt belt cardio is that you need to train three different metabolic processes:

    1. Aerobic (long term) – walk, jog or run. Aim to get up 3-5 miles. Vary speed but don’t stop.

    2. Anaerobic (short term) - e.g. sprints or shuttle runs

    3. Explosive/instant - e.g., get a stable box around 24ins high. Jump on/off several times or step up/down with alternate legs. Pick up intensity.

    • Mix basic training with pushups, squats and ab exercises. Train at least 5-6 days/week (including 2 classes).

    • Work hard on the basics of your art….”but don’t forget to work hard on your stamina, my black belt grading was long and gruelling, if you cannot maintain your form because you are totally exhausted, it really spells against you.”

    • Practice the basics in front of the mirror when you are brushing your teeth, use visualisation whilst waiting at the bus stop or in line at the post office – doing them over and over is the key.

    • Practice all of your testing material regularly, but allocate more practice time to the stuff that needs the most work.

    • Video tape your performances of basics, self defense, patterns etc.

    • Videoing yourself is painful but informative…you’ll be able to see a lot of your problem areas from the tape.

    • Stay away from things like caffeine and alcohol a month or so before the test.

    • Make sure you can demonstrate proficiency in all your techniques (punches, kicks, stances, blocks, patterns).

    • Polish your weak points – this is critical, it is the poor techniques that will sell you short.

    • Practice patterns facing in all directions and then do them with your eyes closed. Pay particular attention to the stances as that is what the examiner will look for. Do each form with intensity, even when practicing.

    • Go to class early (or stay late) and ask a black belt to take you through a practice grading.

    • Don’t test injured! It will severely impact on your performance. Better to wait.

    Mental/Spiritual Preparation

    “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”

    • Believe that you test every day – always perform your techniques as best as you’re able, each and every time.

    • Martial arts are not just something you do for a few hours at a time, but something you are/become. Believe that you can and will make it through. Enjoy the journey, not just the end result.

    • Believe in yourself as the test approaches. Visualize yourself performing flawlessly - see yourself moving and succeeding.

    • Spirit is really important.

    • Talk to yourself; tell yourself you are good enough. Try placing affirmations like ‘I am a black belt’ around the house and read them. Visualise yourself being handed your 1st/2nd/3rd degree by Grand Master Oldham and everybody clapping and cheering.

    • Tell yourself that you are there because your instructor has already tested you in the dojang. You would not be there except for that and the “FACT” that you have achieved black belt in your heart. The mental is the only obstacle, not theirs, not the participants, not family or friends but YOURS. Start with the type of self talk that is success.

    Knowledge and Understanding

    • Make sure you know clearly what you are expected to do. Try to get feedback on your weaknesses (relative to the test).

    • Find out what the order of events will be in the grading itself. Know your body and its limits and expect to be pushed past them.

    • Know what standard is expected. Will the fighting be to see control and skill, or marathon style to test one’s mettle and endurance?

    • Ask questions! Things can vary from school to school, even in the same organisation. Find out what’s required – you don’t want surprises on the day!

    • Ask for a handout of the syllabus with all the techniques needed for grading.

    • Once you know all the techniques have someone call them out one after the other. Now try to do it faster. Then do it in a random order. This helps prepare you for the stress of the test.

    The Grading Day

    • Get there early to warm up and stretch. This will help you get those kicks up and prevent injury. You do not want to pull a muscle on grading day.

    • Perform your techniques with full power.

    • As it’s an assessment, on that particular day all sorts of things can happen, so concentration is a must. It’s a long day with many sections; however, you can only perform one section at a time so the best way to think about the task ahead is to take each section one at a time and then move on, putting that section behind you. This way you only have to concentrate on a smaller section of the grading and put everything into it.

    • You will make mistakes, it is human nature and no one is perfect. Do not let it get you down. Improve on the remainder of the test and you will still have a good shot.

    • Don’t let other student’s throw you off with their mistakes. Keep a razor-sharp focus on you imaginary opponent, right in front of you.

    • It is important for the testing candidate to know that they will make mistakes. The test is how the person deals with the mistake.

    • The material needs to be second nature to you before the test. Be confident in your knowledge of the technique, your ability to execute it on command and approach your test without anxiety.

    • Keep your muscles warm and stretched throughout the test. If it’s not your turn focus your mind on the next task in hand.

    • Remember to take everything with you: yourself, dobok and belt, sparring mitts, gum shield (and any other protective gear), slip on shoes, over gi top, drinks, food, confidence!

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