Preparing for Testing

As I sat here this morning, sipping my tea, I realized there has not been a blog post for a while on the site. Since one hasn't been submitted to me from other instructors or students, I figured I should throw one together quickly. Forgive me if this isn't of the quality you'd expect, but there is no planning involved with this one. Since my blog entries have been reflecting bits that I have been working on myself, I want to talk about test preparation (since my next rank exam is in two days).

The Physical

The most obvious part of preparing for rank exam is practicing the physical parts that you were taught as requirements. You were shown new patterns and drills, and are expected to be able to perform those when asked. You are also expected to know previous material, so you surely don't want to forget any of that either! Last night, our Haidong Gumdo program had a color belt rank exam. Some of these students have a fairly large amount of material under their belts, so there is a lot to practice. Students that concentrate on only their newest material sometimes find themselves forgetting - or panicking - when asked to perform some of their older material. To avoid this happening to you, always practice all of your material. Some sessions may be focused on your newest requirements, and that is understandable, but be sure to take the time to also do those first few patterns your were taught, even if it is much less often.

The Mental

Some people forget to prepare for the mental portion of the test. They are so focused on "showing" the best they can be through those pattern and drill requirements that they forget about the rest. Practicing martial arts doesn't mean just those times you are on the floor. When you have exhausted yourself and are packing up your gear, on your drive home, or in the shower at home, you have time to reflect on what you have done. Did you learn anything about your pattern, about yourself, about your instructor, about your art? Did you think of yet another way to practice your martial art outside the dojang? Do you imagine observing yourself practicing the physical requirements?

Your martial art (regardless of style) goes into how you handle and solve problems at work, in school, or on the bus. It goes into how you shop for groceries, what you do for entertainment, how you treat strangers. Being conscience of these things help you appreciate your training more, and drive you to push forward. This drive brings you toward your next rank with new physical requirements, which in turn leads you back to analysis and mental practice, creating a never-ending cycle in your training.

Other Pieces

Over the years, I have found that there are pieces in my training that sometimes get overlooked for periods of time. They aren't related to the physical practice (usually) or the mental review. They aren't related to the mental aspects mentioned above. These other pieces fall more in line of preparation for the next time of training on the floor. I like to think of it as meditation through distraction. Just this morning, while sipping my tea, I was practicing a couple of these other peices. One of which is writing this blog entry. It allows me to reflect on things in a different way.

Another task I was doing this morning was packing for my trip. I placed all of my bandanas in my bag. (I can never have enough of those!) I placed two pairs of pants for my uniform in next. (I need to learn how to fold those so the pleats stay.) I then looked to the three uniform tops sitting to the side, waiting to be packed. Since I will be using two per day (they get that wet), I examined each one. I looked at the ties on each, and brought out the needle and thread. I repaired any loose threads and reinforced them so that when I do those rolls, twist funny, catch a lapel on something - whatever - the uniform will not fall apart. These other pieces bring a calm, allow me to think only of not drawing blood once again with the needle, and prepare me in one more way for my exam.