Starting Sept.1st, 2015, we officially switched over to our new grading system for all belt exams. Students who are invited to test at the belt exam must take part in the pass / fail test hosted outside of their regular class time. In order to pass this test I suggest following these tips:
1. Show up to every class - There is nothing more important than showing up to class with a positive attitude and ready to learn. Even if you feel like you are struggling and can not quite grasp the material you should keep showing up! In sports like basketball, soccer, and baseball there are often cuts on the team where players did not make the team. In karate, everyone makes the team and gets a chance to play as long as you show up. If you keep showing up week after week, month after month, and year after year you will eventually become a black belt!
2. Ask your instructor for advice on how to improve - Use your time wisely. Your instructor has a lot of experience which is why they are teaching your class. Take the time to follow exactly what they tell you to do with your practice time. They can show you how to maximize your practice time and be more efficient than you would be on your own.
3. Practice the right thing - Very often you will hear people say that "practice makes perfect". This is not correct! In reality, "correct practice makes perfect". Make sure you are not only practicing at home but also showing your instructor what you are practicing and asking for their feedback. Repeating the wrong thing over and over again will only lead to more frustration. Show up early to class or stay late. Do whatever it takes to get extra help from your black belt instructor. Also, taking a private lesson or two will really accelerate your learning curve.
4. Have a long term mindset - remember that a big secret to long term success in karate is understanding that you will not take every belt exam! It is ok if you miss a belt exam even if you feel you were ready to test. Learn to trust your instructor. The goal is to get as much experience as possible before you get to black belt.
5. Go the extra mile - Doing the minimums can lead to frustration. Do your best to show up early, stay late, and ask questions to the black belts. A good rule of thumb is to figure out what everyone else at your level is doing and do the exact opposite! Become a contrarian. For example, if the students at your level are going to class 1x per week then you should start going 2x per week. If others are leaving right when class ends then you should stay after and talk with the black belts and ask them questions on how to improve. And if others are skipping the tournaments then you should definitely go to the tournaments. Becoming successful in the martial arts takes a lot of patience, discipline, and focused effort but it is well worth it.