7 Tops Tips when preparing for a Black Belt Grading

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When preparing for a black belt grading you will have done a fair number of gradings in the build up to this one. So you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s coming, right? Well, yes and no, but don’t be fooled your Black Belt needs to be earned and it not just about going through the techniques and ticking boxes.

preparing for a black belt gradingYour grading panel will want to test you and see if ‘you are a black belt.’ They’ll want to see how much you have been preparing for a black belt grading

So to help you along the way here’s my 7 tops tips when preparing for a black belt grading.

By no means is this exclusive to black belt gradings, each grading you do should be considerably harder than the last so implementing any as these ideas will definitely help you on your way.

1. This tip probably the most important as it will directly affect your performance. It can also be used for demonstrations, performances, shows as well as gradings. Anywhere, where you just do your form, kata, drill once.

When preparing for a black belt grading, train as if you are only doing it once, make sure you’re warm, of course, but do the form once. Your best effort, straight out, no practice, no prep. This will get you used to doing it once for your grading. The grading panel won’t give you five times to have a go before you do it for real. They want to see it once, so practice doing it once.

Also it helps if you imagine you are doing this form once, in front of 1000’s of people, like a big demonstration. Then when you get to your grading panel. No problem.

2. Train in different places. It is so easy to get used to doing your form on the same floor looking at the same wall in the same room. When you go to do it somewhere else, it’s difficult to remember. Train in different places in your training room / dojo.

Train outside, train at a friends house, in the back garden, each time you do your piece, turn a quarter turn and do it again. Again when you face you grading panel, you won’t get flummoxed by the different environment.

3. Practice little and often when preparing for a black belt grading. Don’t go for a once a week 3 hour marathon session and not do it again for a week. In the build up to the grading, train every day, multiple times every day. I’m not talking about full hard hitting, sweating buckets training. I mean go over your forms, drills, just quickly. At the back of the office, out the back of the shop, wherever you can. Work it into your day, get it so drilled in, it’s impossible to forget.

You’ll be amazed how the techniques will start coming out in other aspects of you martial art, sparring, mass attacks, stuff you’ve never used will seem so natural. I guess that’s why forms exist in the first place, right?

4. When most people are preparing for a black belt grading they start making a real effort to up their general fitness. Great idea, you don’t want to ‘gas out’ half way through. The most common thing to do is go for a run on non-training days. Wrong!

Well, not wrong if the grading includes a 4 mile run in it, which most don’t. Why train at running when the grading is most likely going to want you to have fast anaerobic fitness, not slow aerobic fitness. Get down to your local park, car park, anywhere and start getting on with burpees, sprints, hill sprints, squat thrusts, push ups (with sprints), sit ups (with sprints). Set a goal for each circuit, as you’ll want to quit half way through guaranteed. If not, your circuit isn’t hard enough. Your anaerobic fitness will go through the roof and the grading will be a doddle compared. While all your grading buddies are dead on their feet., you’ll be feeling fit as a daisy and ready for more. You’ll stand out, a sure fire way to pass. An amazin fitness programme full of explosive fitness is the insanity workout. Try it out here Insanity: The Ultimate Cardio Workout and Fitness DVD Programme.

5. Whatever you will be doing in your grading drills, forms, patterns, partner work, sparring. Film it, as much as you can. This i s great technique when preparing for a black belt grading. Look at it, critique it, show it to your mates, your instructor and get feedback. It may be hard to swallow, but it’s such a good way to sort out those issues you never knew were there. Or more likely, you’ve been told are there and never really understood what your instructor was talking about.

6. The day before your grading you’ll think to yourself, just one more session before the big day” Wrong again! You’ve done everything you can do, now it is time to rest. Let you body relax, eat good food, go to bed early. Then you’ve got the best chance of passing the next day, fresh and ready, full of energy. You’ve done the hard work now, all you have to do is show the panel that you’ve done that hard work.

7. Zanshin can be used anytime but is brilliant when preparing for a black belt grading. is the art of visualizing your set pieces, even your sparring. Sit quietly where you won’t be disturbed and mentally go through all your forms, drills, patterns, even the kicking drills. It’s a great way to get everything into your head so on the day you don’t have to think. Need more information this there is a great book written by P. Morris on this exact subject Zanshin: Meditation and the Mind in Modern Martial Arts

Well, that’s my 7 top tips when preparing for a black belt grading.

I hope it’s been useful and good luck.

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