After 2 long, difficult years, my studio was finally able to have a full, live in-person rank testing. While it was not perfect, it was definitely a beautiful thing. I don’t think I have been as excited for a test as I was for this one.
Over the last 2 years we have tried several things to evaluate students such as virtual testing, prerecorded testing, and in-class testing, but none of them came close to comparing to the live, in-person test that has been used in the 30+ years I have been training.
The test consisted of mostly beginner students with a few intermediate level students mixed in. We have only been able to do everything we used to do, namely sparring and self-defense, as of September. The advanced student curriculum is very heavy on partner techniques whereas the beginner curriculum consists more of basics so it will still be a while before we can test advanced students again.
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A few things I noticed were:
Basics and Forms looked better than in the past. This is most likely due to the fact that with partner techniques limited over the last few years, we trained more on individual skills such as basics and forms.
Partner techniques looked rough. Sparring and self-defense were a little tough to watch. I fully expected this since we have not been able to work on these aspects as much until recently. I will say that technique and stances were better than in the past, but timing, distance, and targeting were off.
Board breaking was great. We have not broken boards in two years. We haven’t done it in class nor in tests. However, the students who tested crushed their boards with power, focus, confidence, and technique. This surprised me a bit until I thought about it. The increased training in basics made them so much better that it came through in the breaking. Perhaps there was some excitement and pandemic frustration being taken out on the boards as well.
All in all, the test did not let me down and lived up to the hype. I hope this is a turning point for martial arts and we can start to build back our students and schools to be better than they were before.
Next step, a spring time test with advanced students and a late spring black belt testing!