View Full Version : Testing Jitters

8th March 2004, 05:15
I will have testing coming up soon and I am curious as to how others deal with the jitters.

I started instructing on my own a little over five years ago. To date I admit to being pretty easy on people testing up to 5th kyu. At 5th kyu I get kind of picky, but at 3rd kyu I don't let much slide. My problem is I now have my first students preparing for Shodan. I find my expectations wavering and my standards in question. One day I think they are getting close and the next I wonder what was I thinking. I must admit this is truly starting to wear on me. Any thoughts?

8th March 2004, 16:17
It sounds like you honestly care. Thst's what matters. If your really unsure wait another six months. How long have the applicants been training?

8th March 2004, 16:50
5+ years. One student has not been consistent, so I am sure I will wait. The other trains hard frequently, but reminds me of either a charging bull or an out of control freight train. You know how katas have slow and fast, hard and soft? This guy is hard charging 100%.

DJ Tucson
8th March 2004, 17:41
Not to sound any way like I know what I am talking about (I don't alot of the time) But just a thought:

Everyone has a little of their own style, If this person is intence, well so be it. I know I am like that and have been told so time and time again. The thing that helped me is teaching others. You can not teach someone with a bull in a china shop aprouch, it just doesn't work. I would say have your hard core charger teach someone with only 3 or 4 months in and then report to you on ware they thing they did good teaching and ware they did poor. If the the thoughts of the hard charger match your thoughts then I would say this person is headed in the right direction. If you pick a level in your style that has a (flowery-flowing) soft kata then you could start by telling the Hard Charger, " you need to over emphasize the movement and flowing parts of the kata.

Just a thought

teaching helps the teacher

Budoka 34
8th March 2004, 18:01

I'm not sure how I feel about that. I've been an assitant instructor for a while at our school, but I just tested for my last level of 1st Kyu(we have 4 stages). I hope to be offered my Shodan test within a year, but I have very little say in that.
During this last test I gave my all, but have to admit I spent quite a lot of time looking over to my students to see how they were doing.

I expect them to train as smart and hard as my teacher has taught me, and I hope my teachers see that same expectation in me.


10th March 2004, 05:25

Personally, I just don't think tests are that useful. Steve, I understand your concerns about your standards and your resolve in that matter. I agree that it sounds like you care sincerely about your student's progress.

Many times instructors are completely delusional about their expectations vs. what they were capable of at a particular level. I have seen people expecting san dan capability out of ikyu. Being contemporaries of those people, I can say that they were bumbling idiots at ikyu in comparison to what they envision.

When I sat on testing boards, I could usually tell from the moment the candidate stood up whether or not they would make it, at least by second move of their first kata. Personally, I believe an instructor should be able to see all of this on the mat and not need such formalities. I just don't see the point. Tests, in my opinion, stop the flow of development and make things very artificial. At the same time, it's not like a test is going to do damage to somebody. I just don't think they accomplish much.

In terms of your concerns, your feelings on the matter are important. If it makes you doubt that much, then probably they are not ready. One has to guard against the trap that maybe YOU are not ready. I can't tell you how many instructors I have seen that were unable to award rank where it was due because of their own fears of being eventually outdone or fear of embarrassment in front of their seniors. Sad and pathetic, but oh so true.

If someone held a gun to your head and said "choose, test or no." What would be your answer in that moment of absolute clarity for each person?

10th March 2004, 06:11
Originally posted by gmanry

Personally, I just don't think tests are that useful. Not that I dissagree with you, but what do you do then?

Personnaly I hate testing with a passion. Everybody gets wound up and like you said it stiffles development. In general, you know if a student should be testing or not. Or should I say you have evaluated them prior to the test. I know I do.

I always liked the personal stories of people who were promoted by surprise. Keeps people training and not stressing.

My old instructor used to come to the testing and on purpose wind everybody up to high stress levels. I just hated it and it became a burden on everyone. I finally sat everyone down and said it was over. We would stop stressing and enjoy ourselves or I would stop promoting people. It has worked so far.

10th March 2004, 06:14
You have to take a test. Or as my teacher says, "you have to taking the test"

Budoka 34
10th March 2004, 11:47

I always respect your opinion and usually agree or at least learn something from it, but on this one I have to disagree.

Testing is very important!
IMHO, Learning to overcome that self-formed stress level is one of the more important aspects of training. As a teacher and counselor I disagree with the idea that testing somehow "stiffles development". The idea is to teach the student how to deal appropriatly with that stess and function regardless of it.

I also hate testing, but I know going in that I have what it takes to pass or I would not be there. My current Instructors do an excellent job of setting their students up for success by ensuring in the months prior to testing that the students know and understand the foundations of the information they will be tested on.

By preparing the student properly we ensure their success and help them on the path to better self-control and understanding.

(Wow I've been in Asheville to long, I'm starting to sound like one these left wing hippys I work with!):D


11th March 2004, 21:05
In the style that I train there are no tests, except everyday that you are in the dojo.

IMO if you watch someone train for a whole class you should be able to, very clearly, see what level they are at.

If you are the instructor, then give the person whatever rank you think they should be wearing.

Just another opinion.


12th March 2004, 14:22
I always respect your opinion and usually agree or at least learn something from it, but on this one I have to disagree.

Testing is very important!

That's OK, you have to do what you feel is right at the time for you and those under you. I have been through A LOT of tests in the martial arts. I can honestly say that not one of them has ever, ever seriously contributed to my development as a mature martial artist.

I think a test could be devised that does so, but I have yet to find an organization or dojo that HAS done so, imo. I just make every day a test for my students in some way. There is always something during my teaching that is meant to push them as martial artists, and I am not talking about a hard workout or pushups or situps, making people sweat is not hard. Pushing people to be better observers, analysts, technicians, and human beings is the real test, imo.

Personally, all I have to see is a person do a single kata and do some brief movement with an uke or an opponent. The shorter tests are more difficult, you get one shot. Multiple kata, kihon, sparring, ipon kumite, verbal answer, etc. is just not necessary, imo. But that is me. Your mileage may vary, and that is a great thing about this adventure.

You might get me to tentatively agree that testing can be important for kids and youth or for low rank beginners, maybe, if the test is done in a way that maximizes their learning experience. Dan ranks should definitely not be taking formal tests, imo. That's just how I feel about it based on my experience, that's all.

12th March 2004, 14:39
Not that I dissagree with you, but what do you do then?

Hmmmm, well just promote them. In the art I am currently studying, you just get promoted and there can be a variety of reasons.

I have been studying that art for five years. I am dan ranked in two other arts and have been a martial artist for 21 very dedicated years. I am only yonkyu in this newer art. When I switched from TKD to karate, I got my shodan in 7 months, through very formal and austere testing. I am much happier with my yonkyu and no tests over five years, the difference in learning has been night and day.

Tests, to me, suggest that the board has very defined levels of performance for each rank. This is very artificial. I mean, nobody progresses in all areas at the same pace.

I don't really pay attention to technique when I watch tests. I look for those intangible things under the demonstrated technique. These are the things I will show in class in brief glimpses of things. The students that "get" it at the time are the one's I consider for promotion. That sort of thing is much more important than being able to perform kata to text book perfection in front of a testing board. For me it is that moment that is the true test. I don't test what they have learned. I test how they are learning, I find it to be much more dynamic and progressive.

However, for kids, I will probably have tests. Sometimes they do need that carrot (or stick). Adults I don't think need tests. If I want to put them under stress, I can do it in much better ways than a formal test.

Also, large organizations sort of gravitate towards that sort of thing, but it is not necessary that they do so. It is a choice, not a necessity.

Just decide to promote somebody. I mean, isn't a test more honest when the testee doesn't know they are being tested? Which is a more honest reflection of the person?