View Full Version : Testing

7th February 2003, 19:38
Recently, my sensei told me that I'd be testing for 5th kyu at the end of Feb.

That got me thinking, some articals I have read say that you should ask your sensei if you can test, when you feal ready. Others say that you should wait until your sensei says you are ready.

I was wondering what peoples thoughts were about this.


Mike Williams
10th February 2003, 15:51
I think it depends on what is normal for your school. From what I've seen schools that have formal gradings at regular intervals tend to allow students to put themselves forward for testing. Other schools will run gradings as and when they feel their students are ready. Then there's the old style judo and BJJ thing of your teacher just handing you a new belt (the best approach, IMO).

My advice: ask your instructors what normally happens, and follow suit. But I can't imagine any teacher giving you a test date if they didn't think you had the potential to pass.

I tend to put off grading for as long as possible and really need to be bullied/co-erced/cajoled into it (got my 2nd kyu before Xmas - yay me!). I don't think I'd ever feel confident enough to put myself forward! :)

Good luck!



12th February 2003, 02:46
As Mike said it varies from school to school and you should be guilded by what is acceptible at your school. However, don't be restrained from saying something if you feel your ready. In the dojo I have been affiliated with the tests have been grueling, therefore folks were reluctant to speak up until they were ready. You were going to be thrashed either way, but better to pass it than have to repeat the process again later.

Additionally if your Sensei recommended you test than I am sure that you are ready. This is of course assuming you are in a reputable school and not the 7-11 Chain Black Belt Store. LOL

Take care and good luck.


Bushi Jon
13th February 2003, 18:31
The way I like to be tested is the sensi drops little hints about how he thinks that I have improved and this is what he would like to see me do better. Then one day he shows up ask the person he is testing to give a demo on the throws rolls and locks. What this does for me is puts the stigma of testing out of my mind because then I think I am just showing the lower belts what ii have been taught.


John schaefer

24th February 2003, 00:53
Part of being a martial arts student is to learn about ego and, hopefully, some wisdom and discernment. It would seem wise to watch and observe how gradings are done before initiating a conversation on the matter with an instructor. Otherwise you might find yourself sitting at your current grade for quite some time if you ask and your timing and intent is off!

In my experience, it is more common for grading to be at a teachers' initiative - and I would always err on this side of the issue unless specifically informed otherwise.

This can be one of those issues that is a little test - but sometimes it is hard to know exactly what the test is. For example, most of the time when a student actually asks me for a grade, they are not ready and their ego is getting the better of them. On the other hand, it is also true that I know very experienced people who have been held back unfairly and sat patiently at a certain grade for years - getting more and more invisible in their dojo. Their lesson might be to come forward more and get noticed.

If a student feels as though they are being overlooked in some way - asking whether there is something they need to work on specifically for their next grade, or for clarification of something in the grading curriculum can be a way of 'coming forward' without actually being forward.

Jeff Hamacher
24th February 2003, 07:43
Mike hit the nail on the head: find out what the standard procedure is for your dojo and follow it. you needn't talk directly to your teacher; you can discuss it with the senior students in the dojo. that's part of their responsibility to you, the one who isn't expected to know.

i think that Frances also raised some interesting issues. typically, going to class as regularly as you can and giving every class you attend the full effort it deserves is your main concern. regular, earnest training is the most effective way to improve and the most important measure your teacher uses to gauge your progress.

my experience here in Japan tells me that relying on the teacher to lead the way (e.g. advise the student when they'll test, and not expect the student to ask to test) is usually the best course of action. i don't think such an approach is all that different to how teachers around the world do their job. whether or not your teacher is guided by "Japanese principles" is something you have to determine for yourself, but there's no need to go and get too precious about doing things in a "Japanese way".

24th February 2003, 13:51
Jeff, is right about "things Japanese." This issue changes from time to time and dojo to dojo.

Mike mentioned old school judo not testing, that the instructor "just knows" and awards you for your hard training. The fact is, that it depends on the teacher, though he isn't wrong, Mike made a generally correct statment. Kano himself graded people on completely separate and distinct areas which changed from student to student. As with Maeda, he was graded by Kano for spreading and teaching judo internationally, some because he saw their talent for judo himself (Kenneth Kuniyuki, who recently passed away, was bumped to sandan by Kano when Kano was in Seattle, and then received his certificate and teaching license while in Japan), and others for being able to defeat a certain number of other judoka of the same grade, one after the other. On that type of grading, the shortest to shodan was about three months, and the same student to godan in two years. This certainly was "old school."

Testing could be in a shiai strictly meant to be a grading shiai, or points built over time in which people progressed at their own speed, as in the British Judo Association. Kata tournaments, if it is your specialty, are held, as well.

If Mike meant the old days as to "my" old days, he was speaking of the 1960s and on. Some hold tests, some judo organizations certify your fitness by having the student perform in front of a panel of people, as in a Joseki-like atmosphere, and others take the teacher's word for it.

For me, there were no tests, and I am my teachers' student, so no tests. Students are regularly "spotted" as to how far they have come, but no formalized tests. I feel if the teacher believes you are ready to test, than you have just passed it, and the only thing formal is the awarding of such grading at the end of a class. In general, the results are similar. My sensei, though, once said to me in the locker room "You promoted." It can be as simple as that. However, most in judo are far behind others of other styles in grading. This isn't a constant, it is simply judo. As no one has really thought to have a standardized testing procedure that all follow, judo is much less specific in this area and others, as well.

Anyway, my two cents on the subject.


Mitch Saret
24th February 2003, 18:14
I have been graded by different instructors in different ways. I will say, with the instructor just all of a sudden handing out belts at the end of a class, I was disappointed once when I thought the one of the belts was mine.

If you are dealing with kids I think you need to have a timeline set for them, and an actual test. After all, in addition to self defense aren't we teaching them life skills and self improvement? With kids they need the regimented structure, and the knowledge of what to prepare for. If you let them know exactly what they will be tested on and when, you will get much better results. You can always see how they improvise as part of the testing process.

The same can be said of adults, the need for the structure and so forth. I don't think it's as important as with the kids. It would depend on the adult. Some are concerned about rank and need the regimentation, some are there for a good workout, and some strictly for the self defense.

24th February 2003, 18:25
Who knows better if you are ready for that rank? After all, in the words of my Sensei, "Testing is a formailty. Your 'test' has been since the day you walked in."

5th March 2003, 13:58
I prefer to think of everything that goes on in the dojo, and in life for that matter, as a test.