I wrote this article in late 2013, but I really feel that it still holds very true. I hope that you enjoy.
Thoughts on Testing
In my opinion, it’s really easy to become overwhelmed by the process of testing. It’s stressful to get up and perform in front of a board made up of individuals who have dedicated their lives to perfecting their practice of this art. You are being judged, and that alone is intimidating. And, let’s not forget, there is the fear of failure that many of us feel. I guess that the important question is, why do we have testing, and what is the value in it?
It’s obvious that there needs to be some mark of progression through our art. For a lot of people, the motivation of earning a new belt is what keeps them excited to learn. I really believe that is why the different belt systems were created. In class, we have talked about the original concept of the belt. There weren’t greens, blues, and purples. There was, in essence, a piece of string that was tied around your waist to help keep your clothes on. Over time, the piece of string got dirty. After a long period of time, the string was really dirty – and thus, we now have black belts.
There is nothing wrong with needing a little motivation along the way. Honestly, it helps those of us who teach many students to mark progression and to understand where a student is along their journey.
Outside of the motivation and mark of progression that testing offers is where I feel the most value lies. It’s difficult. It’s stressful. But, what in life that’s important isn’t difficult or stressful at times? How many times do we come across difficult situations that need to be overcome in everyday life? The act of performing in front of others each time that we test develops confidence in our abilities to overcome. We grow with every new belt.
A lot of nervousness that students have come regarding their abilities to pass their test. It’s important to remember that your instructor will never encourage you to participate in a test unless they feel that you are ready. I like to look at promotion tests as a performance of knowledge and a celebration of everything that a student has learned. Remember, all of us – judges, instructors, and black belts, WANT students to pass. We’re rooting for you every step of the way.
As you prepare for your next promotion, I encourage all students to approach their testing with a sense of courage, pride and excitement. Testing has not been created to scare you, to torment you, or to make you nervous. Remember, it exists for a reason, and if you weren’t ready, you wouldn’t be testing.