One of the common events at Martial Arts school’s is to promote the student through the Color Belts by the use of Promotion Tests. On the surface the Promotion Test appears to be similar to a recital or a graduation ceremony, where friends and family gather to celebrate the achievement of the student. Well, in some respects that is true, but, more importantly, the Promotion Test is part of the students training. It is a very important part of training for several reasons.
MUSCLE MEMORY: The self-defense techniques that are learned and practiced at each belt level, are embedded into muscle memory. This means that even when the mind is under stress, the muscle memory of the body will still perform the techniques just as they have done repeatedly in practice. The environment of the test, including the audience and judge(s) is a stressful environment. Performing in this environment clearly illustrates how well the body has absorbed the moves into muscle memory.
YOUR ALREADY THERE: The test does not magically move a person from one belt to the next. When a student enters the Dojang on the day of the test, that student’s abilities should already be at the level of the next belt. Here is a short story to illustrate this point. A red belt who had been training hard for a long time felt that her abilities were better than the other red belts. So, she approached the Master Instructor and asked if she could test for Black Belt. The Master asked her this question; ‘Are you Blackbelt?’ She responded, “No sir, not yet. But I would like to test for Black Belt.” The Master repeated, “But, are you Black Belt?” She repeated, “No sir, not yet… ” The master said “When you are Black Belt, then you can test for Black Belt.” So, it is important for the mindset of the student walking into the promotion test to be that of the belt that he/she is testing for.
MENTALLY PREPARE: There are two basic ways to mentally approach a Promotion test. One is wrong. One is right. The first way is with an attitude of HOPE. When asked if they are ready, they say “Gosh, I hope so”. In other words, the student comes to the test with the thoughts similar to this. “Oh gosh, I hope I remember the moves.”; “Gee, I hope I remember to ki-hap.”; “I hope they don’t notice if I forget a movement.” These are thoughts of defeat. They, themselves will hinder the success of the test. Alternatively, the student enters the test with thoughts of confidence. When asked if they are ready, they respond “YES, SIR/MA’AM !!” They feel they have abilities and want to show them to the judges and the audience.
DEMONSTRATES THE TENETS: The test challenges several aspects of the Tae Kwon Do Tenets. It demonstrates Courtesy, in terms of the level of respect given to to the process and Dojang. It demonstrates Integrity. If mistakes are made, the student should stop and admit the mistake and ask permission to continue. It demonstrates Perseverance if the student makes a mistake, does the student get up and try again? It demonstrates Self-Control. If/when mistakes are made, can the student maintain emotional self-control and mental focus? If not, then focus will be lost and the rest of the test will be less that it should be. Finally, the bravery of the student to stand before the judge(s) and an audience demonstrates Indomitable Spirit.
WIN-WIN: Pass or Fail, completing the test is SUCCESS. At the completion of the test, the student has an increased sense of accomplishment, and confidence along with a sense of relief. The lessons learned from participating in the test are just as valuable (if not more) than a training session.
So, is it just a test? No… it is an important part of training in a realistic environment.